Central Saint Martins graduate Honor Fitzsimons creates ethically produced luxury knitwear that has received numerous accolades, winning the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland’s Future Maker Award for Innovation in 2015 and the Emerging Maker Award for Constructed Textiles at the National Craft Awards. Building on traditional techniques, her elegant yet wearable brand has featured in many Irish fashion publications. Inspiration for her SS16 collection – entitled That Which Carries, That Which Pulls – came from Paleo-Eskimo cultures and their powerful connection with the natural world.
Tipperary-born Tim Ryan studied sculpture before teaching himself to create handmade, limited edition knitwear. His innovative sell-out garments tend to employ bright, rich hues and dramatic fringing. Currently based in London, his signature style unites the realms of the unreservedly bohemian and the boldly glamourous. Heavily influenced by the liberated fashion of the 1970s, he produces lighter, more free-flowing pieces than those of other knitwear designers. As a result, he has been credited with making knitwear sexy.
Created in 1998 by two Dublin-born designers, cult knitwear label Electronic Sheep blends their individual fields of expertise. Brenda Aherne and Helen Delany grew up as next door neighbours, and both graduated from the National College of Art and Design (NCAD) in Dublin city centre. Capitalising on Brenda’s understanding of knitwear technology and Helen’s background in art direction for publications like The Sunday Times Magazine and the V&A Museum, Electronic Sheep produce the coolest knitwear known to man – their designs even featured in a Kate Nash video.
One of 19 makers highlighted as part of this year’s CREATE Showcase at the Brown Thomas department store, Fintan Mulholland designs sculptural knitwear using tactile natural fibres such as lambswool, alpaca, merino and cashmere. Progressive in his style, the Belfast-based designer states his intention as being to explore new forms in order to take his chosen medium to its limits. Many of his designs are unisex, or at least begin without a predetermination of the gender they are intended for.
Another alumna of NCAD, Aisling Duff is a contender for this year’s Dublin Fashion Festival Young Designer of the Year, to be awarded at a catwalk show on September 7th. It’s not hard to see why she has caught the eye of the discerning panel – her merino-wool ‘jumbo’ knits come in refreshingly youthful shades of bubblegum pink, yellow and orange. Her novel designs also play with ideas about femininity and formality and include detachable pieces like cowls and muffs.
Ireland’s Eye Knitwear
This family-run knitwear business has been in Dublin for over 40 years, with their clothing now sold in more than 20 countries around the world. Based near the historic fishing village of Howth and named after the island visible from its harbour, their more recent collections blend traditional chunky knits with modern silhouettes and styling, giving the Aran jumper fresh appeal. They also produce scarves, poncho wraps and throws.
Claire Anne O’Brien
Claire Anne O’Brien from Cork also graduated from Central Saint Martins in London, where she now works as a textile designer and lecturer. Although not technically producing knitwear – specialising instead in knitted fabrics for interiors and especially wool furniture – she has designed a range of ‘chairwear’, or jumpers for chairs – cuffs, buttonholes and all. She has won the prestigious Cockpit Arts Haberdashers’ Award, as well as the Kay Cosserat Award for Knitting.