Sustainable Style Spotlight: Aoife McNamara

Please tell us about yourself and your business
I’m the founder and designer behind Aoife McNamara, a luxury sustainable fashion brand that creates unique garments inspired by nature, to protect nature. Aoife McNamara was founded in 2019 by me with the vision of reimagining sustainable design and reconnecting fashion to the natural world. The brand values creativity and beauty as well as people and planet. It also emphasizes quality over quantity. It strives to create beauty and not destroy it.

Do you have a desire to work in fashion?
My passion has always been to be outdoors and enjoy being in the natural world. After securing an honours degree in Fashion Design from Limerick School of Art & Design, I became increasingly aware of the impact that the fashion industry and our consumption are having on our planet. I realized that fashion designers should be focused on positive change. After gaining industry experience in Paris, New York and Ireland, I decided to return home in 2019 and create unique Irish clothing that was in harmony with the environment. It all came together organically and Aoife McMamara was born.

What types of items do your stock?
The signature Aoife McNamara pieces are designed to express different emotions and moods. Our Irish wool power suits with oversized shoulder pads and tailored waistlines empower women to make a change in the world, while our flowing white organic pea silk dresses are designed for when you’re ready to let go and dance the night away. We offer t-shirts and trousers made from recycled, organic, and woven fibers for those everyday moments.

Are there any new brands or products that you are interested in?
Maggie Marlyn, a New Zealand-based fashion designer, is someone I admire greatly. She has the same values that I do. She believes in transparency, recycling, inclusion, and is committed to creating an industry where clothing can be tracked from farm to garment, workers are treated with dignity, and consumers know the true value and cost of their clothes.

When you started out, was money/funding an issue?
As with any business, it is important to get support when you start out. When I was starting my business, I found that my local enterprise office was an invaluable support. Anyone thinking of starting a business should speak with their local enterprise office. There is a lot of advice and help available.

Best business advice you’ve gotten
Because no one will believe in you until you do, you must believe in your own abilities. This advice was given to me by my father, when I was doubting my ability as a creator. It has stayed with me ever since.

Follow these sustainable style accounts online to find your favourites
Rozanna Purcell, Amber Shrestha, Amanda Djerf.

Fashion purchase of the year
Organic cotton leopard print Ganni jeans were my most recent purchase. I will keep a piece of everything in my basket for several months. When I reach a goal or save up, it’s my little gift to me, from me. Ganni is a sustainable global brand that I admire.

The most useful information for starting a business
Patience. Don’t try to build the house without putting in a stable foundation.

Proudest moment thus far
With my parents, I was in the front row at Paris Fashion Week this past year at The Ritz Hotel.

I want my brand to be remembered for… Quality, transparency, community, and accepting Irish raw materials, Irish beauty, and all that we have to offer our island.

If I could dress anyone it would be… Emili Sindlev, stylist
At the minute I’m working on… growing my beautiful AMN community with lots of exciting events coming up over the next few months in our cottage – from educational workshops on natural dying to mindfulness mornings, we have so many exciting things planned, so keep an eye on our Instagram page for announcements and our website to snap up tickets. We are also focusing on growing internationally to the USA… New York is the big dream!

Inspired by the Burren’s colours, textures and the hope it holds for nature’s ability to restore itself, Aoife’s latest collection, Rewilding, is handmade with sustainable production methods and materials – including Irish wool, cruelty-free silk and SeaCell, a fibre made from seaweed. The 11-piece collection will be available online only and at the Aoife McC Namara Cottage, Adare, Co. Limerick.