Did someone say the C-word already? Here are some gift ideas for the gent in your life, each piece masterminded by independent Irish companies
Ilk meaning community and kinship, this Dundalk-based boutique brand is all about smart-casual utilitarian design elevated by quality fabrics and fine details, for a capsule collection of sorts, of mix’n’match shirts, sweaters, trousers and T-shirts. And dare I say the word “shacket”? The Jocelyn (€210), below, is a multi-layering marvel for all seasons in Ilk’s signature shades of sage green, midnight blue and sand. A bit cheaper is the Miwa shirt (€195) – named after a supplier in Japan, her name translating into English as “beautiful harmony” – which has the added bonus of being made from a water-repellent blend of cotton, linen and wool. Ilk may have launched during unlucky 2020, however we expect great things to come out of this indie design trio of Siranee Caulfield-Srikland, Killian Walsh and Jamie Clarke.
Sea and sky greys, stormy blues and lobster oranges are among the natural colours reflected in the woollen sweaters of Inis Meáin Knitting Co. The Aran island’s DNA is in every stitch and cable thanks to its owners, Tarlach de Blácam and Áine Ní Chonghaile, a husband and wife team who have been reinterpreting traditional island garments since 1976. Vintage photographs of Inis Meáin’s fisherman and farmers have provided as much inspiration on designs as the surrounding land and skyscape, while luxury imported yarns – cashmere, alpaca, silk – complement their own homespun wools and linen. There’s their own take on the iconic Aran jumper, as well as womenswear, each piece providing “warmth from the edge of the world,” says their tagline beautifully. Sweaters from €350.
Co Kildare is horse country and where Garvan de Bruir lives and breathes the quintessential equestrian material: leather. Formerly a furniture maker, de Bruir turned his crafty hands to the hardworking textile of horse saddles and bridles, transforming leather into something at once durable and luxurious. Quilted jackets, hoodies, gilets, bags and wallets are real heirloom pieces, as leather can last a lifetime if you treat it with care. And, over time, it softens with age (a bit like all of us, right? Ahem).
Stacey McNutt, of McNutt of Donegal fame, launched Weaver & Wilde in 2018, drawing on the expertise of her grandfather’s weaving legacy for an own-brand of men’s scarves in 100 per cent Merino wool and cashmere, two of the toastiest (and softest) textiles. There are patterns and colour ways aplenty, for every taste and occasion, including classic herringbone, stripes, checks and two-colour reversible options, in sizes from standard to extra long. Scarves €64.95.
Time has become somewhat abstract this year, with lockdown weeks and months seemingly blurring into one long groundhog day. A wristwatch might help. And, besides, Ansley timepieces will long outlast C-19, making them an enduring investment. Designed and assembled in Malahide, North Dublin, these block-rocking clocks are modern classics, with understated faces in white, black and a very fetching sapphire, and various strap options, from tan leather to canvas and metal (extra straps can also be ordered, for chop and change variety). Watches from €125.
Stable’s boutique beside Dublin’s Westbury Hotel is a den of tactility, which makes it extra tough not to be able to run one’s (sanitised) hands over its many hats, blankets, scarves, snoods, jumpers, kimonos and bags during this pandemic year. But rest assured that if anything catches your eye at its website, it’ll be of top-notch quality and exquisite softness, having been crafted by one of at least 30 small-scale Irish weavers and knitters under the tutelage of boutique owners and design collaborators Sonia Reynolds and Francie Duff. Much of Stable’s output is unisex, with wool, alpaca and cashmere scarves in a kaleidoscope of colours, yarns and weaves being of equal interest to gents at this time of year, as well as gorgeous knitted sweaters. A big high five though to the, er, High Five Scarves (€130, below, with unisex Aran jumper €195). Not only are they made from single-layer Irish linen handsomely trimmed with navy, ten per cent of sales go towards the November campaign. from €80.
Some people call 2020 the Year of Coronavirus. Some say the Year of Connell’s Chain. Which is why Edge Only’s Heavy Curb Chain (60cm) will likely fly off shelves more than ever. Its maker Jenny Huston is the daughter of a gemologist and goldsmith, which means expert craftsmanship from flat chain to lobster clasp, with the sterling silver version costing €179 and 18ct gold vermeil (sterling silver fully plated in gold) priced at €220. Moreover: Edge Only is the recent recipient of an Institute of Irish Designers award for a collaboration with hipster knitsters Electronic Sheep. Connell Waldron would surely (quietly, nonchalently) approve.
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