Voting for our inaugural Boutique Awards is well underway. The task of compiling worthy contendents was no easy feat, but having an arsenal of savvy, in-the-know judges – each of whom are thought-leaders in their own right – made the task easy and enjoyable.
Before finalising the list of winners in this year's awards, each judge will be explaining why she shops locally and telling us about her favourite boutique buy. Annmarie O'Connor is an author, fashion journalist, stylist, wardrobe wellness coach... the list goes on. Raised in Galway, Annmarie currently lives in Dublin and is an enthusiastic vintage shopper. Book tours for The Happy Closet and The Happy Medium have taken her all over the country, so she is in a position to offer a wonderfully broad perspective on retailers across Ireland.
For me, The Boutique Awards are an exercise in passion. Passion is what inspires action, creates momentum and gets things done. This is why I am so excited to celebrate the bounty of independent fashion retailers on the Irish shopping circuit. It’s a privilege to shine a light on those who feel so deeply about what they do and do so well. If they feel it, we feel it and their customers (who are voting in their droves) are certainly feeling it! Passion is viral, so let’s spread the word.
Why do I shop in boutiques? There’s something quite edifying about boutique shopping, especially when you find ‘the one’. The relaxed atmosphere, personal attention and made-for-you edit all combine to create retail magic – the ineffable alchemy that makes a loyal customer out of a casual browser. It’s this shared passion between shopper and shop owner that transcends commerce when shopping becomes the therapeutic experience it was meant to be. My favourite boutique buy has left a lasting impression on me: I bought a full-length pink and gold brocade coat and a floral lurex maxi dress by Adele Simpson at Miss Daisy Blue. This boutique is Cork’s worst kept secret and with good reason as owner Breda Casey has one of the best eyes for vintage in the business. The outfit gives me goosebumps each time I wear it.
Supporting independent retailers means more than just shopping locally; it means investing in the lifeblood and character of an area. From Galway’s bohemian brio to Cork’s reputation for glad rags, buying your swag on home turf means futureproofing its unique fashion identity. Shopping without indies? It’s a bit like wearing beige while eating tofu on a Tuesday – simply bland. With that, I urge you to support your local (or national!) boutique and vote for your favourite in the IMAGE Boutique Awards.