Sustainable Style Spotlight: Aoife McNamara

Tell us about you and your business
I’m the founder and designer behind Aoife McNamara, a luxury sustainable fashion brand that creates unique garments inspired by nature, to protect nature. I founded Aoife McNamara in 2019 with a vision to reimagine the future of sustainable design by reconnecting the fashion industry to the natural world. The brand values creativity and beauty, people and planet, and quality over quantity. It aims to create beauty, not destroy it.

Did you always want to work in fashion?
I have always had a passion for being outdoors and immersing myself in nature. After securing an honours degree in Fashion Design from Limerick School of Art & Design, I became increasingly aware of the impact that the fashion industry and our consumption are having on our planet. It became clear to me that as a fashion designer, my purpose needed to focus on making positive change. I travelled abroad, gaining industry experience in Paris and New York, and once I returned home in 2019, I was determined to create unique Irish garments that were at peace with the planet. From there, it all happened organically, and Aoife McNamara was born.

What kind of items do you stock?
Our signature Aoife McNamara pieces embody different moods and feelings. Our Irish wool power suits with oversized shoulder pads and tailored waistlines empower women to make a change in the world, while our flowing white organic pea silk dresses are designed for when you’re ready to let go and dance the night away. For those day-to-day moments in between, we offer t-shirts, trousers and sweaters made with recycled, organic and woven fibres.

What new brands or items are on your radar?
I am a big fan of Maggie Marlyn, a fashion designer from New Zealand. She shares the same values as me; believing that the future of fashion is one rooted in transparency, circularity, regeneration and inclusion and committed to building an industry where clothing can be traced from farm to finished garment, where workers are treated with dignity and respect, and consumers understand the true cost and value of their clothing.

Was money/funding a concern when starting out?
Of course, like any business starting out! I found my local enterprise office of great support to me when starting. I would advise anyone starting out in business to chat with your local enterprise office. There is lots of help and advice out there.

Best business advice you’ve gotten
You have to believe in your own ability, because no one else will believe in you unless you do first! This was from my father when I was doubting myself as a creative and it has stuck with me since.

Favourite sustainable style accounts to follow online
Rozanna Purcell, Amber Shrestha, Amanda Djerf.

Best fashion purchase
Most recently, organic cotton leopard print Ganni jeans. I am the type of person who will have a piece in my basket for a few months. When I reach a goal or save up, it’s my little gift to me, from me. Ganni is a global sustainable brand I really admire.

Most useful learning since setting up a business
Patience. Don’t try to build the house without putting in a stable foundation.

Proudest moment so far
Showcasing at Paris Fashion week this year in The Ritz Hotel with my parents in the front row.

I want my brand to be remembered for… quality, transparency, community and embracing Irish raw materials, Irish beauty and everything we have to offer on our island.

If I could dress anyone it would be… the stylist Emili Sindlev.
At the minute I’m working on… growing my beautiful AMN community with lots of exciting events coming up over the next few months in our cottage – from educational workshops on natural dying to mindfulness mornings, we have so many exciting things planned, so keep an eye on our Instagram page for announcements and our website to snap up tickets. We are also focusing on growing internationally to the USA… New York is the big dream!

Inspired by the Burren’s colours, textures and the hope it holds for nature’s ability to restore itself, Aoife’s latest collection, Rewilding, is handmade with sustainable production methods and materials – including Irish wool, cruelty-free silk and SeaCell, a fibre made from seaweed. The 11-piece collection is now available exclusively online and at the Aoife Mc Namara Cottage in Adare, Co. Limerick.

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