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Image / Style / Irish Design

Irish Design Spotlight: Jack Murphy


By Sarah Finnan
17th Dec 2023
Irish Design Spotlight: Jack Murphy

A family-run business designed in Dublin, Jack Murphy is a favourite with royals, celebrities and locals alike. Famous for its long-lasting quality and stylish pieces, the new vision for the brand is to champion women. Here, CEO Sarah Murphy, tells us more about the collection.

Tell us about you and your brand
Jack Murphy is a third-generation Irish family business. Jack Murphy was started by my grandad Jack just after the Second World War. His career began in corsetry, setting up a small niche business in Skerries, Co. Dublin. His expertise, commitment and passion remain in the brand’s DNA today. 

My dad, Michael, joined him years later and is the one who made Jack Murphy the brand it is today. Taking his father’s knowledge of corsetry to outwear garments, he created a tailored silhouette for functional garments – something that we continue to strive for. 

Our journey has evolved, but our roots remain the same. From Jack’s original focus on corsetry to Michael’s pivot into outerwear, we have consistently strived for innovation while respecting our heritage. Joining in 2018 was a big change for me and for the brand, and now five years later you can see contemporary elements coming through. 

I believe in the vision of our family brand, a modern take on Irish heritage. Each collection is characterised by quality, classic tailoring, and reliability. I’m really looking forward to the next five years to see the direction we go in and what the future holds for Jack Murphy.

What is your mission?
Our mission is to create beautiful, purposeful clothing that is made to last. At Jack Murphy, we pride ourselves on the quality and timelessness of our pieces. We embrace Irish heritage with a modern twist by paying attention to detail and focusing on the female form by using structure and tailoring in every piece. Traditionally, clothing was tailored, long-lasting, made from sustainable and durable fabrics. It was then passed down, mended, and embellished and we want our customers to continue experiencing that with Jack Murphy.

Did you always know you wanted to be a designer?
I have always loved clothes and the way they can make you feel; how mixing and matching can change a piece in your wardrobe and how an outfit that you feel comfortable in can give you the confidence to walk into any room. In saying all of that, I am not a designer, it is really my dad who is the designer. He has expert knowledge in garment structure, fabrics and ultimately the creation of a garment from start to finish. I am involved throughout the whole process, but it is his vision and understanding of creating clothing that has shaped Jack Murphy into the brand it is today. 

What kind of items do you stock?
We specialise in womenswear, with a smaller menswear offering. It is important to us when creating a style that it is not just functional but also beautiful. From the durability of tweed to modern waterproof styles, each product line reflects our commitment to quality, functionality, and timeless elegance. 

Our womenswear collections are created with the modern women in mind bringing versatile luxury pieces that can be styled in endless ways to suit any occasion. From horse riding to weekend brunch, the styles deliver comfort and style no matter the destination. 

Designed in Dublin, the rugged landscapes and changing weather of Ireland aren’t hurdles but inspiration. We are renowned for our attention to detail and tailoring; our range consists of 100% wool tweed coats and jackets and 100% waterproof raincoats and jackets. 

Every garment carries Jack’s personal signature of authentication, a seal of the high standards and quality craftsmanship that we vow to maintain. When you wear Jack Murphy, you don’t just wear a garment – you wear a story and a legacy. 

What new brands or items are on your radar?
I’m genuinely excited and deeply passionate about the ongoing transformation within the fashion industry, where all fashion brands are dedicated to producing clothing that is sustainable in every aspect. If we collectively pursue the goal of achieving full carbon neutrality, we can continually gain insights from one another. I’ve learnt that progress is a collaborative effort, and learning from our peers is crucial. For instance, there’s a fascinating innovation where waterproof jackets are being made from algae, Philip Lim even created a couture dress with algae sequins! 

All our tweed styles are made from 100% wool which comes from either Donegal or Yorkshire depending on the style. It’s very interesting to find these once-traditional fabrics becoming more mainstream, with younger people wanting a more sustainable wardrobe. 

Was money/funding a concern when starting out?
In this business, money is always a concern. We have very long lead times, which most people don’t understand. It is a very expensive process of creation – there are often more than three different pre-samples made for one style – which all take over six weeks to create. It is something you are always battling with and concerned over, but if you stick to the vision and the values of the business (quality being one of our top values), all the work and money spent will eventually pay off.

Best business advice you’ve gotten.
I have been given a lot of great advice over the years but one that has stuck with me is ‘always ask the question, the worst they can say is no’. I am also part of the Going for Growth community, which is an amazing network of female entrepreneurs and has been instrumental in my journey so far. It is a space to discuss, listen and learn with other women in business and I have got some amazing advice from them. What gets measured gets done. If you are living to work, you forget to make a life. Running a business can be all-consuming. So, it has been very important for me to have balance.

Favourite fashion/design accounts you follow
It may sound basic, but I love Ralph Lauren. Over the years they have remained true to their values, continuing to focus on classic, well-made, beautiful clothing. They haven’t needed to change to become the fashion house they are today. 

On the flip side, I love the glamour and boldness of Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney’s work on sustainability while remaining fashionable. Patagonia as well, even though they are considered an outerwear functional brand, they are worn fashionably. They have moved the clothing industry on massively when it comes to supply chain transparency. I could go on!

Best fashion purchase
It was years ago, I was travelling in South America and we were in Buenos Aires which is famous for its leather garments. I used all my savings to buy a beautiful black soft leather jacket, with particular attention paid to the feminine. Funnily enough, it is this element of our jackets, that I love too! It was unusual to me to find a leather jacket that had princess seams and stand-out hardware such as thick zips – I liked the mixture of both and I still wear it.

Other Irish brands you love
Una Burke – I am fascinated by what she constructs and am definitely saving up for a piece. I love how one piece can transform a whole outfit, and love the mix of feminine shapes with structural hardware. I also love Aoife McNamara’s designs; I really like how she incorporates so much thought into her pieces and it’s great to see her Bcorp accreditation. 

Most useful learning since setting up a business
Since joining the business five years ago, it has been a pretty steep learning curve with a lot of changes globally (Brexit, Covid, etc.). Having to navigate all these changes was new to me, and I spent a lot of time second-guessing myself. To be honest, it took me a long time to find my own confidence within the business. I have learnt that you have to trust your gut, trust the vision and be proud to stick with it. I have been lucky enough to have been given the opportunity and space to grow within the business. My dad has definitely helped in encouraging me to just go for it!

Proudest moment so far
I wouldn’t say a moment per se, but this year has been different in terms of the business and my approach. I am very proud of what my dad and my grandad have achieved, and believe me, I am still learning a lot! But this year, I feel like I have settled into my role, and have been able to develop my own creativity and confidence in taking the brand on. So, I guess I am proud of the journey so far!

I want my brand to be remembered for… I want Jack Murphy to be remembered for longevity, to me this epitomises our brand. Longevity is not just about the quality – although that is very important. For me, longevity is also about the long-lasting want and desire to keep a piece of clothing in your wardrobe. 

We have all bought something and loved it, only to discover a year later that you don’t like it, anymore. I hope that Jack Murphy is the opposite of that – a bit like my leather jacket, it gets better with age. I hope that our customers continue to pick their Jack Murphy pieces out of the wardrobe in ten years’ time, I know I will.

If I could have anyone wear my designs, it would be… Kate Middleton. She is the epitome of style. She always wears understated, classic, and beautifully tailored pieces that are also very wearable. I really like how her wardrobe has developed over the years, and to have her wear Jack Murphy would be incredible.

Imagery provided by Jack Murphy