Irish fashion designer Orla Kiely has announced she is closing her online and retail business with immediate effect.
The news comes as a huge shock to consumers and the fashion industry alike, as Orla has often been described as one of Ireland’s most successful designers. The London Fashion and Textile Museum debuted an exhibition of her work just two months ago, and one of her dresses sold out in minutes after Kate Middleton was photographed wearing it.
Related: Orla Kiely's biggest inspirations and favourite spaces
In a surprise statement shared on her company website, customers were told, “Kiely Rowan plc, the retail and wholesale fashion business of Orla Kiely, has ceased trading as of Monday 17 September 2018. This means our retail stores in London and Kildare and our online business has closed.” It goes on to say, “Thank you for embracing our brand and designs throughout the years, and for your ongoing support. Orla, Dermott and the team.”
Photo: Kate Middleton wearing pink Orla Kiely dress
The statement does not shed any light on the reasons behind the closure, though a subsequent note to the Irish Times reads, “Having carefully considered the options, the directors of Kiely Rowan Plc have concluded that the business should enter voluntary liquidation following various challenges that have faced the company over the past few years, both in the UK and abroad.”
However, the designer’s Home and Design licensing business will not be impacted. Its much-loved range of homewares will continue to be sold through its distribution partners.
The public response
There has been an outpouring of messages for Orla Kiely since the news broke early this morning. “An iconic brand, Orla Kiely; a great woman and team behind her. All your fellow entrepreneurs are thinking of you during this difficult time,” one Twitter user said. "Really sad news about Orla Kiely: an iconic brand with an incredible community. A real loss for design," another said.
A third tweeted, “Got a present of one of her baby-changing bags back in the day, so fond associations. Very sad to see an iconic Irish designer go under. All good wishes.”
— Charlotte Prichard (@thargaretmatcha) September 19, 2018
Devastated to hear Orla Kiely @orlakiely has ceased trading. I have loved the brand for over 15 years, met Orla at her book signing in Dublin in June, your fab bags will be missed ?????
— deborah sheehan (@deborah84173099) September 18, 2018
We at IMAGE HQ wish Orla and her team all the best.