WearingIrish Margaret Molloy interview: I love to be the girl in the Irish outfit

By Ellen Carroll at Well Fashioned

WearingIrish, of course, Margaret Molloy joined me to chat about her love of Irish makers and her journey to create a WearingIrish movement. Admitting that she’s getting into trouble with her kids for working long into the night to add Irish fashion designers onto her directory and gift guides – this woman isn’t on a one-woman WearingIrish mission – she wants us all to join in and support Irish industry.

Brand Ireland has found itself a grand ambassador in Margaret Molloy and it was a joy to speak to her.

We chatted for ages, discovering that she grew up only miles away from where my mum and dad were born and how impressed she was by the sense of style and individuality she saw on a recent visit back to Ireland after 20 years of being stateside.

So in preparation for the WearingIrish month of March and indeed an all-year-round celebration of Irish talent – come join the WearingIrish community and welcome Margaret Molloy in telling her WearingIrish story in my first Well Fashioned interview.

I love to be the girl in the Irish outfit

Where did your interest in fashion come from?

I’m not a designer, but I recognise the importance of the maker movement. As a marketing executive and analyst, I’m out there and I’m looking at trends. I see the maker movement and I see that we’re living in a very visual world. I see Instagram’s influence, not just in fashion but how it changes our model of communication. I see designers contributing to companies beyond the traditional design skillset.

The Irish are great storytellers, but this story is untold

Ireland has done a fabulous job of telling some great stories

Our hospitality industry and our tourism industry tell a great story about how welcoming we are. We do a great job of telling a story about our tech-savvy. But I believe we need to tell a story about our makers and our creativity in its physicality. My view is that the benefit is much bigger than supporting individual designers. It’s an economic development story. If we as a country want to attract and create high-value jobs, we need to talk about makers more. Of course, we need to support them too.

How did you start the WearingIrish Campaign?

I live in New York and I get to a lot of events in March. Because I’m active on social media, and because of my profile, I get in a lot of photos. Invariably this means I like to have new styles and outfits to hand.

After twenty years of living in America, and as someone who enjoys fashion, I didn’t

have a stitch of Irish clothing in my closet. As a result, I said, “Wait a second. Why not buy some Irish designs. I just had that notion of running an experiment to see what I would learn and how people would react, “why not?” I began that journey, and I soon discovered the creativity and range of product that was available in Ireland.

As a marketing person, I realised this is an untold story. I want to tell this story.  

I have a platform, I host events, I’m a guest at many events, and I’m on social media. So I asked myself why don’t I personally take it upon myself to tell the story of Irish fashion design by not just using words, but visually as well.

And, as I said to my friends, I am not a fashion model, I respect the professionals who do that, but I can be a role model. A lot of people can relate to me, an ambitious, busy professional woman in her 40s who likes beautiful things. Of course, I recognise that there is vulnerability in posting pictures oneself on social media; not being the perfect body type, or not being a certain age profile, but I also believe that many people now find that attractive because it’s authentic.

What in particular do you love about Irish Fashion?

I appreciate the plurality of Irish fashion. There is such a range. It allows us to invoke different aspects of our personality on a whim because there is such diversity of aesthetic available. My personal style is very eclectic. I appreciate different things. And I can fulfil all my design sensibilities from Ireland across the designer spectrum of different brands.

I have corporate meetings, I go to black tie galas, and I have two kids so I have mom duties. I have all these different dimensions to my life, and I’ve found within the Irish design community there is such variety that I can find something for every occasion.

I also like the element of quirkiness of Irish fashion. That is very attractive, and it allows individuals to map items to their own personality. The use of colour is also very compelling. I love colour.

I love to be the girl in the Irish outfit

Irish designers are confident in their use of colour, and they’re unapologetic about using colour, which appeals to my sensibility. Look, I’m in marketing so, in New York, you want to stand out. Irish items have a story to them, and you can still respect your style aesthetic but without trying too hard. As a professional, you need to wear the clothing, the clothes don’t wear you.

What has the reaction been to the WearingIrish campaign?

It’s been overwhelming. Many designers in Ireland have embraced it. Simple things like they use hashtag #wearingirish too. I’ve had lovely letters and emails from designers saying, “We can’t believe this lady in New York actually cares and appreciates our product…this ladywho can buy at every shop that‘s in New York actually cares enough to go out of her way to support Irish designers.”

And people, like yourself, in the community really embraced it in a very magnanimous, supportive way too. A lot of the community here in New York, think,

“Good for you. You’re doing something to help others, and maybe putting yourself out a little bit and going out on a limb.” There’s some risk with that. Every outfit I wear won’t be a winner. You have to have the confidence to not be perceived as frivolous. That’s important to me. I worried about that in the beginning. But my professional contacts have actually applauded my passion and desire to give back.

They look at it as someone who’s really getting their fingers into marketing, personally doing the tweets and Instagram and not delegating it to team members.

This is not one lady’s WearingIrish thing. I’m trying to create a movement.

I’ve had tremendous support. Frankly, people coming to me with ideas that are even beyond my ambition for WearingIrish. It’s not just Margaret putting up pictures WearingIrish, but people like yourself and others across the world. Success will happen when people don’t even know Margaret Molloy; they know WearingIrish is something that’s out there.

How can people get involved in WearingIrish?

Use the #wearingirish hashtag. Consider Irish designers for your next fashion buy. I’ve posted a directory. When you purchase something, why not put a picture of yourself wearing it and use the hashtag.  I’ve been publishing a few gift guides, so explore the gift guides too.

I also recognise not everyone is comfortable posting pictures of themselves. However, if everyone were to go and follow me on Instagram (@wearingirish), and make the occasional comment, like a picturethat would be powerful. Follow #wearingirish too and like others’ posts as well. The idea is to drive momentum and contribute to the movement.


You were in Ireland recently, did you get round to see many of the designers?

I certainly love meeting the designers. I love hearing their personal stories, and hearing about their experiences, and getting ideas from them. As a marketing person, I look for inspiration from people who are different from me. I think I continue to be inspired by their commitment to their brands, their creativity, and many of them by their grace, in how appreciative they are of WearingIrish.

And finally…what does Well Fashioned mean to you?

Well Fashioned means being true to yourself, having a point of view, and living your own brand in everything you do.

And ssshh saving the last bits till last

There are big plans underway for something unique in NYC come May 2018. That’s all I can say for now.

BREAKING NEWS: Margaret has just announced the launch of #WearingIrish NYC 2018, a competition to find eight of Ireland’s best fashion/accessories designers and bring them to New York for a showcase with the city’s movers and shakers in May.

On a personal note, I would love to help fly the WearingIrish flag here in the UK more – so expect more news and collaboration to come and get in touch if you’re a Made in Ireland maker of womenswear or accessories as I would love to add you to the Well Fashioned Made in Ireland directory and feature you here on the Well Fashioned blog.

The future of WearingIrish is certainly bright and so is Ireland’s creativity.


To find out more about WearingIrish, follow @MargaretMolloy on Twitter and @wearingirish on Instagram and check out her WearingIrish directory. Use the #wearingirish hashtag, like, comment, share and blog away to champion WearingIrish before, during March 2018 and beyond.

Burns night is on the 25th January, time to whip out the kilts and celebrate Scottish culture.


Haggis not your cup of tea? Need an excuse to treat yourself after the Christmas period? Think about celebrating Scottish heritage on Burns Night by having a look at some of my favourite Made in Scotland womenswear and accessories brands.

Godiva Boutique, Edinburgh

Godiva Boutique stock some great Made in Scotland clothes in the centre of Edinburgh, including Rowan Joy. In the area? Why not pop over to see just how great the quality of Made in Scotland womenswear collections and accessories are or shop online.

Begg & Co: Ayr, Ayrshire. @BeggandCompany

With 150 years of experience in shawl making but unafraid to champion innovative design, the brand provides a scarf to match any outfit. My favourite piece in their current collections is the LEIBOVITZ
Lambswool Angora Oversized Scarf Black
. And what’s more, it’s reduced by £85 in the winter sale!

Cioch: Struan, Isle of Skye, Invernessshire.

Embracing Scottish culture this Burns night might mean embracing the rain. Based on the Isle of Skye, Cioch aims to provide outdoor clothing with the ‘Perfect Fit’ with garments tailor-made to your measurements and in your colour combination of choice.

Harley of Scotland: Peterhead, Aberdeenshire. @harleyofscotlnd

Harley of Scotland use only yarn milled in North East Scotland in the production of their timeless classic sweaters. They are attending Scotland’s Trade Fair in Glasgow in the week of Burns Night, from the 21st-23rd January on stand F42, click here for more information.

Love Cashmere: Highwick, Scottish Borders. @LoveCashmer

Using the best of Scottish yarn from Loro Piana and Todd & Duncan, Love Cashmere simple but stylish cashmere accessories. My favourite new winter arrival is the lace cashmere snood!

Mcrostie Scotland: Howword, Renfrewshire. @McRostieLeather

All Mcrostie leather accessories are handcrafted in their Scottish workshop using the finest of British materials, truly representing the great quality of UK manufacturing. If you are looking for something extra special, Mcrostie’s offer a personalisation service.

Skye Weavers: Glendale, Isle of Skye. @SkyeWeavers

Harking back to the days of traditional Scottish woollen manufacturing, Skye Weavers create beautiful scarves and accessories on a pedal-powered loom. Skye Weavers even invite people to come see their pedal-powered loom in action from 11am-3pm, Tuesday to Thursday.

& Daughter: Hawick, Scottish Borders @AndDaughterUK

& Daughter produces their items in Hawick in the Borders of Scotland as well as Donegal in Ireland, combining the style and expertise of British and Irish design. Passing from father to daughter, the brand creates simple and elegant knitwear, often using cashmere for the softest feel.

Elizabeth Martin: Lanark, Lanarkshire @elizharristweed

All Elizabeth Martin Tweed products are designed by founder, Elizabeth Martin and hand-made by local staff in Scotland using Harris Tweed, Egyptian Cotton, Satin and Silk.

Rowan Joy: Edinburgh. @rowanjoy

The label originally started as a vintage reworking project which then evolved into Rowan taking inspiration from vintage pieces and creating her own one-off designs. Rowan Joy also offers a bridal-wear range.

Rowan Joy Bridal: Edinburgh.

As the sister-label of ‘Rowan Joy’, Rowan Joy Bridal mirrors the vintage styles and inspirations of Rowan Joy but combines them with bridal elegance and glamour. The beautiful dress pictured above is available here

Stewart Christie & Co: Edinburgh @SCBespoke

Stewart Christie & Co have a long history of holding both estate and family tweeds and tartans. Both a made to measure and bespoke tailoring service is offered, bespoke orders being made on site in their Edinburgh workroom.

Johnstons of Elgin: Elgin & Hawick @Johnstons_Elgin

They have 200 years of experience in the textile industry. The result? Beautiful cashmere and wool collections. Johnstons of Elgin offers tours of both their sites. Elgin Mill Tours are available 10am- 3pm Monday- Thursday, 10am- 12 noon Friday. Hawick Mill Tours are available 10:30am-1:30pm Monday to Thursday, 10am on Friday.

Well Fashioned Credits: 

The packed high streets of the boxing day sales may be behind us but luckily for Well Fashioned wearers the winter sales are still on and gems can still be found. I have been searching through our Well Fashioned Made in Britain & UK directory to see what winter wardrobe essentials you could still get your hands on at a fraction of the full price.

Above are some of my favourite finds: Ally Bee Jumper (was £209, now £169) / Bridds Hat  (was £22.50, now £17.50) / Begg & Co Scarf (was £90, now £45) /  Brora Coat (was £525, now £325) / Cocoon Trench Coat (was £370, now £270) / Yull Boots (was £115, now £80) / Dents Leather Gloves (were £65, now £26) / Celtic & Co Gloves (were £19, now £12.35).
Shop our Well Fashioned Made in Britain fashion directory.  

I love a great factory tour, don’t you?  Factory tours are a great way to spend a morning or afternoon, finding out exactly #whomademyclothes and discovering the craftsmanship that goes into making them.

Unfortunately although we come across more great factory shops every week, factory tours are proving much harder to come by. As there seems to be only a small number of factories in the UK that throw open doors open to the public, it’s becomes even more important to celebrate the ones that do.

We have located a number of great UK Well Fashioned factories who offer tours around their premises:

David Nieper, Womenswear

  • Tour its Derbyshire factory and design studios, and treat yourself to a homemade cream tea in the staff cafe!
  • Nottingham Road, Alfreton, Derbyshire, DE55 7LE
  • Call 01773 522 662 to join a factory tour in the summer months.

Johnstons of Elgin, Knitwear

  • Elgin Mill Tours are available 10am- 3pm Monday- Thursday, 10am- 12 noon Friday.
    • JOHNSTONS OF ELGIN CASHMERE, Heritage Centre, Newmill, Elgin, Moray, IV30 4AF
  • Hawick Mill Tours are available 10:30am-1:30pm Monday to Thursday, 10am on Friday.
    • JOHNSTONS OF ELGIN CASHMERE, Visitor Centre, Eastfield Mills, Mansfield Road, Hawick, TD9 8AA
  • The factories are occasionally closed for maintenance. To avoid disappointment call in advance on 01343 554088 (Elgin) or 01450 360549 (Hawick)

Tusting, Womenswear

  • Tours of the workshop available on request from 10am-4pm Monday to Friday
  • The Tannery Warehouse, 29 Olney Road, Lavendon, Olney, Buckinghamshire, MK46 4EU
  • Call 01234 712266 or email info@tusting.co.uk for more information.

Private White V.C., Menswear, and selected womenswear

  • 10am & 2pm Monday-Thursday, 10am Friday
  • A small fee may apply to parties of more than five
  • Cottenham House, 1 Cottenham Ln, Salford M3 7LJ
  • Complete a Tour Enquiry Form in order to visit.

Van Dal, Footwear

  • 10.30am & 1.30pm Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
  • Groups between 10-30 people
  • Dibden Road, Norwich, Norfolk, NR3 4RR
  • Pre book on 01603 493116 or email consumer.sales@floridagroup.co.uk

Chapman Bags, Accessories

  • Max group size 15-20 people
  • John Chapman Limited, Gallery House, Tannery Road, Harraby Green Business Part, Carlisle CA1 2SS
  • Call 01228 514514 to book a tour.

Owen Barry, Accessories

  • 11am & 2pm Monday- Friday
  • Groups of 8+ people
  • Owen Barry Ltd, Number 3, The Tanyard, Leigh Road, Street, Somerset, BA16 0HD
  • Call 01458 442858 or email info@owenbarry.com for more information.

Fashion Enter

  • Tours of the factory producing garments for a large variety of brands including ASOS and M&S available for students only
  • The Factory, Unit 14, Crusader Estate, 167 Hermitage Road, London, N4 1LZ
  • Email education@fashioncapital.co.uk for tour enquiries

NPS Shoes

  • 10am-4pm Monday-Saturday and 11am-4pm Sunday. Occasionally they are not open on weekends, so double check before you visit.
  • 2 Holyoake Rd, Wollaston, Northamptonshire, NN29 7RZ
  • Fill out the registration form to book a private tour or call 01933 664 207  for more information

We will keep adding to this list of Made in UK Factory Tours with every Well Fashioned factory tour we find. If you know of any great tours in the UK please email ellen@wellfashioned.co.uk or tweet us @wellfashioneduk to share your fantastic finds.   

Want to discover UK Well Fashioned factory shops? Have a look at our factory shop list to grab yourself a bargain…happy shopping!

Well Fashioned Credits: Images courtesy of Chapman Bags. The photographs were taken in their Carlisle factory.

Bridd’s Hats Made in Devon

Every week I discover more brilliant brands, manufactured in locations from the Scottish Highlands to Mumbai, the range of brands championing a Well Fashioned ethos never fails to surprise me.

This week, however, my Friday Find is much closer to home. Bridd’s make all their high quality crocheted hats in our home of Devon.

Ruth Briddon, the founder of Bridd’s, started crocheting as a hobby just over two years ago. Alongside her growing love for the craft, her belief and support for UK talent encouraged Ruth to establish a UK-made brand and provide her customers with a slice of Devon.

With this idea in mind, alongside the frustration of slow shipping and poor customer service, Ruth decided to ditch the materials she once sourced online from China and switched to sourcing from the UK. After bracing herself for a rise in price, she was surprised that her assumption wasn’t true. Everything Bridd’s use in manufacturing, from faux fur to hooks and packaging, is now sourced in the UK with no extra costs to pass on to customers. The wool used in Bridd’s hats is a soft acrylic and merino mix, and although Bridd’s haven’t found their perfect partner yet they hope to source their wool locally from Devon soon.

‘Why blend in when you can stand out?’ Bridd’s makes a range of hats in various colours – from stand-out pom-poms or stylish beanies.  They also work with other UK businesses to gift you a little extra something with every order, helping to create a UK manufacturing community.

Ruth has said that her biggest challenge as a new business is getting shops to take a chance on her product. As the majority of items sold in shops are machine made they can be produced quickly and cheaply but Bridd’s is determined to hand make their hats to ensure the highest quality. e.

Check out Ruth’s designs here, and buy directly from her to help support a company which champions a love for Devon and the UK, in its design, sourcing, and manufacturing. What a better way to beat those summer blues that updating your winter wardrobe and also keeping your head warm.