A union of two giants within Irish design and sustainability; one a well-established household name and another that’s soon to be. Not only is this collaboration an exciting moment for creatives, but our heritage as a people, too. We’re quick to condemn our island’s past as “conservative” and “traditional”, putting a restless emphasis on reinventing our nation. However, reflecting on and appreciating the generational talent that’s flowed through our country for centuries, and continues to do so, is just as necessary. Even better, we can do both at once – just as this collaboration illustrates.
With roots dating back to 1723, who better represents our inherited talents of creativity and perseverance than Avoca?
First, rearing its head as a mill for corn and wool along the banks of the Avoca river, after which it’s named, it operated as a cooperative facility for local farmers to use. It’s astounding to think that the label has become internationally acclaimed for precisely what they began doing 300 years ago, during a time when resources were few and far between; weaving woollen yarn.
You can’t mention Avoca without instantly thinking of throws, tailoring and knitwear. In terms of sustainability, wool is one of the most sustainable natural materials in existence. Firstly, it’s renewable – thanks to the lovely sheep who grow it. It’s a natural fibre, so it naturally biodegrades. Plus, when harvested ethically, it causes no harm to its woolly growers and usually needs to be sheared ahead of warmer months / to maintain proper grooming.
With origins in sustainable production since its inception, Avoca is a prime example of a successful and circular, ethical business – but that’s not all the company does for the environment. Again focusing on Irish craft and artisan, they have stocked a variety of own-brand foods, spreads, and baked goods made on-site or by independent producers since 1985. From a modest mill to an internationally recognised retailer, the company has gone from success to success.
Now re-focusing on following the organic and ethical principles on which they were founded, veering away from international manufacturing and reinstating quality, design and circularity as primary concerns, we are excited to see what’s on the horizon.
The first of which is the luxury circular brand aoife ®.
Catching the eye of the Irish retailer by way of the independent label’s re-silk collection, the pair began their conversations of a partnership. The silk collection featured in the British VOGUE is, in fact, not silk- it’s better. That’s not a biased standpoint; the unique fabric is not only an innovative replacement but is also restorative to nature. As well as that, it’s made with all the things we love about natural fibres in mind; its lustrous appearance, smooth texture and feather-light weight, along with a host of other beneficial characteristics introduced by a regenerative nylon, a hard-wearing, long-lasting, waterproof, anti-stain, and scratch-proof material. The brand designs circular products from reclaimed, regenerated and recycled fabric. An ethical design process designed to be kind by helping to sustain, restore and replenish our natural world while cleaning it, and creating something new from something old.
Similarly to Avoca, you can’t mention aoife ® without mentioning leather goods – or cactus leather goods, we should say (not that you’d notice the difference other than the beautiful smell of plant-based goodness). aoife ® uses biodegradable cactus leather to craft their line-up of streamlined silhouettes, alongside their signature, in-house manufactured fabrics from regenerated Econyl® yarn; another circular material that adopts all the characteristics we desire from leather, without harm to animals or the environment. The label is truly setting the bar for textile innovation; this combination of buttery-soft and luxurious, glossy fabrics swathe the brands of mini rolls, totes, duffles, backpacks, cross-body bags and more.
An exciting collaboration for Irish creatives, the fusion celebrates the heritage of the old and the innovation of the new whilst looking to both the past and future for inspiration.
I’m sure if you told the milliners back in 1723 that they were at the beginnings of a retail giant and would stock award-winning internationally renowned regenerative and reclaimed bags in years to come that were helping to restore our natural world, they wouldn’t believe you! If this union shows us anything, it’s that everything is possible. We can move forward and reinvent ourselves whilst protecting the planet we love -without forgetting who we are and where we come from.
Be sure to visit Avoca Rathcoole, South County Dublin and Kilmacanoge, Wicklow and see this beautiful award-winning luxury circular brand aoife® on display.
Sincere thanks to our guest writer Victoria G. L. Brunton, who wrote this blog; a talented Journalist and Editor who writes about fashion; and is a big advocate of sustainability. She has a wealth of experience in the fashion industry, is a writer for the beautiful magazine “Utopia The Edit“, and is a contributing writer to many well-known, established Irish publications.
Thank you, and best wishes, Victoria.