11 May, 2023 | Posted by Jenny Smith

How Does the Fashion Industry Work in Ireland?

How Does the Fashion Industry Work in Ireland?

The fashion industry in Ireland operates similarly to fashion industries in other developed countries. It is a diverse and competitive industry that encompasses various aspects of fashion design, production, marketing, and sales. 

Ireland has a growing fashion industry with several internationally recognised designers and brands such as Simone Rocha, Paul Costelloe, and Orla Kiely.

The industry is centred in Dublin, where there are several fashion schools, showrooms, and boutiques. However, there are also emerging fashion scenes in other cities like Cork and Galway. 

Fashion designers in Ireland typically work independently or as part of a design team. They create new designs, source fabrics, and oversee the production of their collections.

Some designers also produce bespoke pieces for individual clients. Many designers showcase their collections at events like Dublin Fashion Festival.

There is much more to the fashion industry in Ireland than just designers and events. In this article, we will explore

  • Clothes manufacturing in Ireland 
  • Sustainability in the fashion industry in Ireland 
  • The role of fashion buyers
  • Where do the clothes sold in Ireland come from?
  • Who decides what clothes are sold in Ireland?
  • Is there a circular economy in Ireland?
  • Who or what influences the fashion industry in Ireland?

Clothes Manufacturing in Ireland 

The manufacturing of clothing in Ireland has declined over the years due to competition from lower-cost countries, but there are still some small-scale manufacturers and textile companies in the country. 

In terms of retail, Ireland has a mix of both independent boutiques and large chain stores. Fashion retailers in Ireland operate both online and in physical stores, and many offer international shipping. 

One area where Irish clothing manufacturers still excel is in the production of traditional knitwear, such as Aran jumpers or sweaters, which are made from wool and are known for their intricate cable patterns.

Many of these knitwear manufacturers are based in rural areas of Ireland and produce high-quality, handmade items that are popular with locals and tourists. 

There are also some small-scale clothing manufacturers in Ireland that produce a range of other clothing items, such as t-shirts, dresses, and jackets.

Some of these companies specialise in sustainable or ethical production methods, using organic or recycled materials and ensuring fair wages and working conditions for their workers. 

There are several textile companies in Ireland that produce fabrics and other materials for use in clothing and other industries. For example, the Irish linen industry has a long history.

The fashion industry in Ireland is dynamic and constantly evolving.

Sustainability in the Fashion Industry in Ireland  

Sustainability in the fashion industry is becoming increasingly important in Ireland, as it is in many other countries.

Consumers are increasingly aware of the environmental and social impacts of the fashion industry and are demanding more sustainable and ethical products. 

Many Irish fashion brands and designers are taking steps to reduce their environmental impact and promote sustainability.

For example, some are using sustainable materials such as organic cotton, linen, and bamboo, and incorporating recycled materials into their designs. Some brands are also using eco-friendly dyes and reducing water usage in production. 

Many Irish fashion brands are also promoting ethical working conditions and fair wages for workers in their supply chains. This includes working with certified factories and suppliers and implementing transparent supply chains. 

There are also a number of initiatives and organisations in Ireland that are focused on promoting sustainability in the fashion industry.

For example, the Rediscovery Centre in Dublin offers courses and workshops on sustainable fashion and upcycling, while the Circular Fashion Ireland network brings together designers, businesses, and organisations to promote circularity in the industry.

Despite these positive steps, there is still a long way to go to make the Irish fashion industry fully sustainable.

The industry is still grappling with issues such as overproduction, waste, and the fast fashion model, which can be difficult to reconcile with sustainability goals.

However, there is growing awareness and momentum behind sustainable fashion in Ireland, and many industry players are working to drive positive change. 

The Role of Fashion Buyers in Ireland 

Fashion buyers in Ireland are responsible for selecting and purchasing the products that will be sold in retail stores or online.

They play a critical role in the fashion industry, as they are responsible for making decisions that can impact the success of a business.

In Ireland, fashion buyers may work for retailers, fashion brands, or e-commerce companies.

They typically work in teams with other buyers and merchandisers, and they collaborate closely with other departments such as marketing and operations to ensure that their buying decisions align with the overall goals of the business. 

Where Do the Clothes Sold in Ireland Come From? 

The clothes sold in Ireland come from a wide range of sources, including domestic manufacturers, as well as from other countries around the world. 

Most clothing sold in Ireland is imported from other countries, with the largest suppliers being China, Bangladesh, and Vietnam. These countries have lower labour costs and are able to produce clothing at a lower price point than domestic manufacturers. 

In addition to these major clothing exporters, Ireland also imports clothing from other European countries such as Spain, Portugal, and Italy.

These countries are known for their high-quality fashion and luxury brands, and their products are often sold in higher-end boutiques and department stores. 

Irish retailers also source clothing from the United States, with popular brands such as Nike, Levi's, and Tommy Hilfiger being widely available in the country. 

While most clothing sold in Ireland is imported, there are some domestic manufacturers and designers who produce clothing in the country. These typically produce higher-end, handmade items that are sold in boutique shops and online. 

Who Decides What Clothes Are Sold in Ireland? 

The decision of what clothes are sold in Ireland is primarily made by retailers and fashion buyers.

Retailers in Ireland include department stores, independent boutiques, and online retailers. They are responsible for selecting the clothing and other products that will be sold in their stores or on their websites. 

Retailers typically have a team of fashion buyers who are responsible for selecting the products that will be sold. These buyers attend trade shows, meet with suppliers and designers, and review sales data to determine which products will appeal to their target customers. They consider factors such as quality, style, price, and trends to make their buying decisions. 

In addition to the decisions made by retailers and fashion buyers, the Irish government also has some influence on what clothes are sold in the country. The government sets standards and regulations for the clothing industry, such as requirements for labelling and safety testing, which can impact the types of products that are available for sale. 

Overall, the decisions about what clothes are sold in Ireland are made by a combination of retailers, fashion buyers, and government regulations.

These decisions are influenced by a variety of factors, including consumer preferences, trends, and the availability of products from domestic and international suppliers. 

Is There a Circular Economy for Clothing in Ireland? 

There is a growing circular economy for clothing in Ireland, with a number of initiatives aimed at reducing waste and promoting more sustainable practices in the fashion industry. 

One example of this is the development of clothing rental services in Ireland. These services allow customers to rent clothing items for a period of time, rather than purchasing them outright.

This helps to reduce the amount of clothing waste generated by consumers and promotes a more sustainable approach to fashion consumption. 

There are also a number of clothing donation and recycling programs in Ireland, aimed at keeping clothing out of landfills and promoting the reuse of textiles.

Many charities, such as Oxfam and the Irish Cancer Society, operate second-hand clothing stores where donated clothing is sold to raise funds for their programs. 

In addition to these initiatives, there are a growing number of sustainable fashion brands and designers in Ireland who prioritise ethical and environmentally friendly production methods.

These brands often use organic or recycled materials and implement practices such as zero-waste pattern cutting and closed-loop production processes. 

Overall, while the circular economy for clothing is still in its early stages in Ireland, there are a growing number of initiatives and programs aimed at reducing waste and promoting more sustainable practices in the fashion industry. 

Who or What Influences the Fashion Industry in Ireland? 

The fashion in Ireland is influenced by a variety of factors, including global fashion trends, local culture and traditions, and individual style preferences. 

One of the primary influencers of fashion in Ireland is global fashion trends, with many Irish consumers looking to fashion capitals such as Paris, Milan, and New York for inspiration.

Social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok have also become increasingly influential in shaping fashion trends, with influencers and celebrities often setting the tone for what is considered stylish and fashionable. 

In addition to these global influences, local culture and traditions also play a role in shaping fashion in Ireland. Irish knitwear, for example, has a long history and remains popular today, with Aran sweaters and other traditional knitwear items being worn by both locals and tourists. 

Individual style preferences also play a role in shaping fashion in Ireland, with many consumers placing a high value on personal expression and individuality.

This has led to the growth of the sustainable and ethical fashion movements, as more consumers seek out clothing that reflects their values and beliefs. 

Overall, fashion in Ireland is influenced by a variety of factors, including global trends, local culture and traditions, and individual style preferences. These factors come together to create a diverse and dynamic fashion scene, with something to suit every taste and style. 

Find Out More

At Portobello Institute we have a number of business of fashion undergraduate degrees that can help you or your son or daughter to follow their passion with career success in mind. To find out more about these courses and the careers and programmes they progress on to, visit our business of fashion department page here.

If you are interested in any of our business of fashion courses or have any questions you can book a consultation call with our expert fashion advisor Sarah Coyne here email sarah.coyne@portobelloinstitute.com or call 01 892 0041.

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