This five-bedroom family home in Blackrock is on the market for €1,325,000
This five-bedroom family home in Blackrock is on the market for €1,325,000

Sarah Finnan

Influencer-washing in Dubai: How human rights violations hide behind glamorous influencers
Influencer-washing in Dubai: How human rights violations hide behind glamorous influencers

Roe McDermott

The step-by-step guide to laying a chic summer tablescape
The step-by-step guide to laying a chic summer tablescape

Holly O'Neill

Social Pictures: The Irish premiere of Twisters
Social Pictures: The Irish premiere of Twisters

IMAGE

Inside interior designer Stephanie O’Sullivan’s concrete Dublin 7 home
Inside interior designer Stephanie O’Sullivan’s concrete Dublin 7 home

Amanda Kavanagh

‘Self-care’ is not a buzzword, for young women – it’s essential
‘Self-care’ is not a buzzword, for young women – it’s essential

Edaein OConnell

Head Chef at Dela Shannon Di Cola Schiano on her life in food
Head Chef at Dela Shannon Di Cola Schiano on her life in food

Sarah Gill

Women in Sport: Cork gaelic and camogie star Hannah Looney
Women in Sport: Cork gaelic and camogie star Hannah Looney

Sarah Gill

This modern Dublin home with incredible views is on the market for €1.95 million
This modern Dublin home with incredible views is on the market for €1.95 million

Sarah Finnan

The vintage shops to know, according to the Irish style set
The vintage shops to know, according to the Irish style set

Sarah Gill

Image / Style / Irish Design

Magee 1866: The Donegal brand top of Sarah Jessica Parker’s wishlist


By Charlotte Temple
20th Aug 2023
Magee 1866: The Donegal brand top of Sarah Jessica Parker’s wishlist

A family-run lifestyle brand based in Donegal, Magee 1866 recently made waves after Sarah Jessica Parker called in on her last visit to Ireland. In fact, she loved her new pink tweed jacket so much that she actually wore it out of the shop! Here creative director Charlotte Temple tells us more about the company’s ethos.

Tell us about you and your brand
Magee 1866 is a family lifestyle brand – my sister, brother and I are fifth generation. We have three stores in Ireland, a wholesale business and an online business too. We are unique in that we design and weave a lot of our own fabric in Donegal. This fabric is used through our own lifestyle collections for men, women and home. It’s also used by international designers. Our DNA is focused on luxury natural fibre fabrics such as wool, alpaca, cashmere, linen and silk.

I am the creative director and have been in the business for over 12 years, following four years in the army, based in the Curragh. I have three children and am passionate about the mountains and the outdoors in general!

What is your mission?
When I started, we were a tailoring brand, specialising mainly in suits and jackets for men. My aim then was to create a beautiful, wearable lifestyle brand and use our incredible fabrics across a multitude of products. We focused on menswear first and now our women’s collections are finally coming together.

We are a ‘slow fashion’ brand by default. We create timeless designs across our fabrics and ready-to-wear collections. Being such an old brand (we’re nearly 160 years old) has huge benefits and we have real heritage, but it can be hard to shake off the stigma of what people perceive you to do – the number of people who still say to us, ‘Oh, are you the suit brand?’ or ‘My father wore Magee’. We do so much more than that now – from luxury coats to knitwear to tops and dresses!

 There is so much fashion being produced globally and so much wastage, each piece we produce must be considered, made to last and work year after year.

Our mission is to grow the Magee 1866 lifestyle brand on an international level, while still retaining our roots – the ‘slow fashion’ elements, our heritage, our family, our luxurious quality and capturing the raw, rugged beauty of Donegal in our collections.

Did you always know you wanted to be a designer?
No! I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. After leaving school, I did a cadetship in the Curragh followed by six months in Liberia. I then left the army and went to London as a personal trainer. I spent many hours there in stores from Bond Street to Carnaby Street to Notting Hill. Seeing what brands at all levels do made me realise that we had something really special back in Donegal, something I had grown up with. 

Dad was running the business at the time and as mentioned above, it was focused on pretty drab men’s suits and our mill was exporting most of the fabric globally. I decided to come back to Ireland and started in the business – selling at first, which I hated and was hopeless at, and then slowly worked my way across to the creative side. I think I have finally found my niche and I am so lucky to find something that I love doing!

Grace Tweed Coat in Houndstooth, €350

What kind of items do you stock?
At the moment, we produce two men’s and women’s collections a year – Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter. We also have a collection of home interiors – throws and cushions – all made in Ireland. We stock everything from suits to blazers, coats, knitwear, tops, dresses and shirts.

What new brands or items are on your radar?
I spend a lot of time looking at various brands. I love the lifestyle captured by brands like Ralph Lauren, the timeless simplicity of Italian brands like Lora Piana. The heritage yet quirky approach by a brand like Hermes, contemporary yet timeless styling from Celine. Recent brands on my radar are Reformation and Sezane. Massimo Dutti is always a good one for basics.

Best business advice you’ve gotten
Be focused, work hard. Building a good team is key to any successful business.  

Favourite fashion/design accounts you follow
The classics like Celine, Hermes and Lora Piana which always inspire me. 

Jane Merino Crew Neck Jumper in Pink, €115

Best fashion purchase
I have a wax Celine coat lined with a soft wool tweed – I love its simplicity. It’s a piece that my husband gave me three years ago and I will still be wearing it hopefully when I am 80+!

Other Irish brands you love
There are some amazing Irish brands and businesses popping up at the moment, I feel it’s an exciting time! In our store in Donegal, we are focused on creating a destination for Irish brands around wellness, food, lifestyle, and home – brands that complement our own. Currently, those brands include Ground, Dublin Herbalist, Handmade Soap Company,  Sheridan’s Cheese, Shines Tuna, John Ryan Pottery and Kevin Callaghan Pottery.

Most useful learning since setting up a business
Building a team around us, with everyone focusing on the same end goal.

Proudest moment so far
Launching our most recent Autumn Winter collection. It has taken us time to flatten what we are about and who we are… with so much history, it has been hard at times to define the future! I feel finally that we are making inroads toward creating a really unique and special brand. We shot the collection in Donegal in May in the most incredible location along the coast. Styling and working with the finished pieces and seeing the results made me incredibly happy.

Susie Shirt Dress in Lavender Liberty Print, €199

I want my brand to be remembered for… being Irish, our family, our story, our colourful and luxurious fabrics and that buy now and wear for the future.

Imagery provided by Magee 1866. Feature image via @sarahjessicaparker