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Charlotte

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My early memories of Magee as a child were built around what Dad wore as he left for the office at exactly 0750 every morning – namely a navy suit with a brightly coloured tie. (While Dad has never worked directly in our design departments, he has always had a natural flare for colour and styling!) The upstairs wardrobe was full of soft earthy brown and green houndstooth jackets with the odd thornproof suit in a moss green with a fine red thread running through (great for dressing up in as a child!). My brother and I also acquired a bright green linen/silk bolt that we used for ‘tent’s and ‘hide-outs’ in the woods at home. Probably not the final end use desired by the Weaving designer at the time but perfect for us – 65m went a long way for these structures.

Our fabrics and garments have evolved over the years, but the core message of quality and producing a timeless product has always been at the heart of what we do. We focus on natural fibres – wool, alpaca, cashmere, linen and silk. Traditionally Magee 1866 concentrated on jacket and suits, I joined the business in 2012 and while I have no formal training in design, I have been steeped in our brand since a child and love and believe in the the idea of taking a clothing brand and building a lifestyle around it. This is what we are striving to do and use our amazing fabrics as much as possible in these collections.

The Magee 1866 fabrics would have been originally all handwoven and their function was not fashion but utility. In the 1960’s two leading Irish designers – Sybill Connelly and Irene Gilbert started to use our Donegal tweed in the women’s collection. We have always been renowned for our brightly coloured and intricately designed apparel fabrics. In 2018 we launched our first interiors collection.

While we do buy from other mills, particularly in suiting – the UK and Italy, this vertical approach from mill to finished garment allows us to develop truly unique fabrics for our product collections.

Each season we are working to subtly push the boundaries, combining the best of Donegal cloths with contemporary styling – AW19 the Duffle and Alexa coat, while still retaining our more classic pieces. A tricky balance! The Autumn Winter season is so strong for us, colours are rich with earthy tones and our natural cloths really come into their own.

Trends are evolving all the time and the casual direction the world is moving is very prevalent – I still believe there will always be room for a smartly tailored suit, so much so we have just launched an extensive made to measure service!

Spring Summer is a little more difficult, but we are looking to develop the Irish linen story across a number of products and use a more softer colour base across our lightweight wools. For us the ideal spring piece is something that can transcend seasons, particularly in Ireland where our weather is so unpredictable.

A sneak preview to SS20 and our Irish linen suit in an olive green Glencheck (also available in navy) is a wardrobe must – the great thing about this suit is how you can mix up the styling – the checked jacket with plain linen trousers and a t-shirt or the trousers with one of our Irish linen grandfather shirts (an exclusive made in Ireland product). Embracing the casual trends we are introducing a casual lux collection.

I have been working with our team to review how we can use our beautiful Donegal tweeds and linens in some timeless and the more quirky accessories, e.g. our Donegal tweed teddy bear (Made in the UK) and our throws – made in Donegal by us. This is an exciting area for development – watch this space!

Magee 1866 have been specialising in tailoring and luxury fabrics for over 150 years. We have always been renowned for our durable, hard-wearing suits – namely the original thorn-proof. This heavy, worsted woollen suit, made in the Convoy woollen mills in Donegal, simply didn’t wear out – the story goes that you could push a pencil through the cloth and then give the cloth a quick rub and one would never have known a pencil or said pencil hole had been there.

Fast forward to today and we are still producing sophisticated and beautifully tailored suits. Fabrics have developed over the years and have become much more lightweight and functional for today’s needs. The world is becoming a more casual place, but we strongly believe there will always be a place for a well-cut suit.

Here are a few of my favourite looks and outfits for the 9 – 5 week day wardrobe that work within the hectic lifestyle we all juggle today.

The Donegal tweed suit – drawing on our heritage we have adapted the original, rustic, (and a little bit rough) Donegal tweed and developed a fine, lambswool quality with the distinctive salt & pepper fleck. This season you can purchase this unique suit as a Mix & Match – i.e the jacket, trouser and waistcoat separately – this works really well if you are a. not a standard 6-inch drop (all our ‘nested suits’ are designed with a 6-inch drop – i.e. the difference between the jacket and trousers, e.g. a size 40R jacket will carry a 34R trouser) and b. you might not want the waistcoat but it does make for a lovely option on it’s own without a jacket, in case you are tempted! Here are four ways to wear your Donegal suit.

The classic pure new wool ‘business’ suit – new for this season, a luxury fine worsted wool featuring a subtle check with blue and on-trend brown. This luxurious fabric is designed and woven in England by Alfred Brown. Style with one of our luxury cotton white twill shirts and knit tie.

The Travel suit – this lightweight, stretch suit does exactly what is says on the tin – a durable, functional and yet very smart wool blend suit is a must for your work wardrobe. The fabric is designed to wear exceptionally well; travel – cars, trains and planes, it withstands long days in the office and it looks pretty good out of a suitcase. The added stretch makes this a really comfy suit. We do offer a waistcoat in this style but we also recommend the Kilgole knit waistcoat – a slightly more casual alternative to the classic suit waistcoat. This suit is available in black, navy or grey – and in two fits – classic & tailored.

Dress down options – while there will always be a place for a beautiful suit, we know there is an increasing need for a casual office look. Think comfortable chinos, (ours have 2% stretch = added comfort), a casual check shirt and cotton knitwear. If you need to dress it up a little, try one of our lightweight wool jackets – a great early fall/mid-season jacket.

The City Coat – all our coats are designed to wear over a suit jacket or standard blazer. This Autumn Winter the collection includes functional, shower-proof, lightweight Macs, cashmere blend classic wool car coats and my favourite – the Erne, a Donegal tweed raglan sleeve mid-length overcoat. (Available end September)

Finishing touches

We have a unique collection of luxury accessories – English bridle leather belts – made in the UK, tweed and leather bags – the tweed is designed and woven by us in Donegal, Ireland. We also have a beautiful collection of ties and pocket hankies.

The Magee Made to Measure service is also worth remembering if you are looking for a suit for the office that fits you perfectly and features design details that you have chosen from our extensive collection – e.g. buttons, linings, collar meltons, piping and perhaps you initials embroidered on the inside left or under the collar.

Find out more – Made to Measure – own stores and selected stockists in the UK and Ireland.

Planning for Autumn Winter 2020 started at the end of May, with an initial concept and style meeting. It is always a little hard thinking about a season a year away, before the current Fall season has even landed and while in the middle of finishing up for Spring Summer 2020!

I would describe our small luxury brand as ‘slow fashion’, a more sustainable approach to fashion, which we believe very strongly in. Our collections are designed to stand the test of time and while we are reactive and very receptive to trends we are not entirely driven by the latest ‘must-have’ fad. This is a relief when looking a year down the line as we know we have a great core range of products to work from and are not reinventing the wheel every season. We have classic blocks and styles that we run year on year, we tweak where required and develop some key new styles to enhance the collection.

Our fabric selection does change from season to season and we are looking to push the boundaries here, particularly in our women’s collection. Traditionally we would have played it quite safe with colourful, yet classic checks and herringbones. Now we are embracing what our own Weaving mill does best on the international market – bold, intricate and colourful fabrics. These stand-out pieces are really quite special and balanced with timeless designs – e.g. herringbones and plains.

While a large focus of the Magee 1866 collections is around our own fabrics – we work with a number of other mills namely in the UK, Italy and Portugal. These mills bring something different – a worsted suiting, a luxury silk print, cottons for trousers, shirting fabrics and an increasing number of technical fabrics for outerwear.

Liberty of London silk print and Italian silks.

Two days in Milan (where our own Weaving also showcase the next season) covers the majority of these mills. This time is spent going from mill to mill, viewing their collections and sampling. I love it – exhausting but exciting to see what other mills are working at and over the course of the show next Autumn’s collection really starts to take shape.

Luxury natural fibre yarns

There is an increasing drive across fashion for brands and consumers to adopt a more sustainable approach to fashion.

Trend inspiration for Autumn Winter 2020.

A snapshot of our own Weaving stand at Milan – showcasing what we do best – luxury and natural fabrics. Cashmeres, wools and alpacas.

So who are we? What do we do?

We are a 5th generation Irish family business and lifestyle brand, based in Donegal, Ireland. There are four family members working actively in Magee today, alongside a dedicated team, some of whom have over 40 years experience.

The family – Lynn, chairman who started in 1974 – an avid cyclist who pedals in and out to work every day – rain, hail or shine! Paddy, CEO of the Weaving, an engineer by training and a lover of the sea. Paddy joined in 2012. Rosy, who started last year following a sabbatical for a few months in Chile, cycling north from the Cape for 2000km. Rosy manages marketing and wholesale sales. I (Charlotte) head up our design team and web sales. Following a short stint in the Irish army and two years in London, I joined the business in 2008.

Weaving – designing and weaving are at the heart of what we do. We have a dedicated design team who create beautifully intricate and colourful fabrics, that are then woven and finished in our mill in Donegal. Originally in 1866 our great-grandfather’s cousin, John Magee, established his business buying and selling handwoven Donegal tweed. We still hand-weave today but 90% of the fabric is power woven.

Clothing – traditionally we focused on tailored men’s jackets and suits, (since the 1860’s) but as trends have evolved, so have we and our product range has expanded across both tailored and casual. We are also now focusing on creating a unique capsule collection for women – beautiful wardrobe pieces that work across all aspects of modern day life from weekday to weekend.

We have three stores in Ireland and selected stockists throughout the EU. Our fabrics are sent all over the world and used by luxury designers. These unique cloths are focused around noble natural yarns – wool, cashmere, alpaca, linen and silk. We also offer a Made to Measure Service in our own stores and selected stockists. A collection of over 300 cloths – from Donegal tweed to fine Italian suiting.

Our ethos as a family brand is to ensure we capture and retain our unique heritage, with this in mind we work towards creating collections that are contemporary yet timeless. We use luxury materials and pay special attention to the fit, quality, make and detail of each piece. Our Irish roots are very important to us and we are taking an increasingly sustainable approach to the business.

We aim to create a lifestyle brand that is evolving with what we believe in and wear as a family – weekday to weekend.

This blog is written by us and hopefully gives you a more personal glimpse into what life is like in a brand that is over 150 years old – the passion, the dedication, the knowledge and of course add little bit of fun!

Find out more about us or shop online

The planning for the Spring Summer photoshoot starts in December when the initial concepts are played out for the season. Spring is the perfect season to showcase the best of Donegal, our home and the place where much of our inspiration stems for the collections.

Inspirational mood boards for SS20

The process evolves at Milan in February, our main textile show, when choosing fabrics for the collection. At times it can be hard getting excited about linens and the beach as the snow falls in Europe in the middle of winter, but the fashion world is always two seasons ahead.

Selecting fabrics at Milan

A photoshoot has a glamorous ring to it, but involves rather mundane planning and logistics, in particular chasing samples around the world to make sure they arrive on time. However it does have its exciting elements – pulling together the long-planned outfits and creating a story around the collection, we finally see those initial concepts coming to life.

The day arrives and with it, the hope it will be dry, we don’t mind if it is cloudy (better for the photographer) or windy but horizontal rain, so often found in Donegal creates a problem. We have managed over the years to combat all weathers – from snow, to gales and torrential rain. This year we chose Murvagh to shoot – a long sandy beach banked with Maran grass and dunes. Perfect for this year’s theme – a Sea Safari.

We have a brilliant team – Alex our photographer who we have used for the last few years – he has the ability to give Magee, a brand steeped in heritage, a cool and contemporary edge. We pull video into the day as well – a vital medium for the digital age we live in, Ciaran quietly works around Alex and brings the day to life with his engaging behind the scenes and collection videos. Add makeup, hair, models and our own patient, hardworking and enthusiastic team.

This season for men’s we are using Roelof, a fun and classically good looking South African model who we shot a few seasons ago. (The key is ensuring our models work with our brand profile and fit our clothes – we have had a few disasters over the years, with wooden models and those that simply do not fit our garments, despite their profile size and reassurance from the agency…)

The day usually starts with makeup and hair around 0700. By the time Roelof arrives we are ready to shoot the first shot at about 0900. This year we started with our capsule collection of casual lux – a contemporary, branded range of Irish Linen shirts, pants, sweats, polos and tees – a very new look for us! We try to get the bulk of the shots in before lunchtime – about 1400 and tend to work through about 12 – 14 shots a day, with casual clothing it is easy, but suits create require more tweaking to ensure they look sharp.

My aim is to ensure the shots look great but also that the day is relaxed and fun. If everyone is happy the shots and videos are so much better. The results below speak for themselves, a sneak preview into our SS20 collection – launching January 2020.

An Irish Linen suit designed and woven by us styled with an Irish Linen grandfather shirt. Suit available from February 2020

We are renowned for our men’s sophisticated tailoring and have been perfecting the art of the ‘work wear’ wardrobe for men for over 100 years. Styling has without doubt evolved over this time, however the classic suit is still a staple.

In the 1960’s we started designing and weaving colourful, intricate tweeds which opened the door for us into the women’s market on fabric. For the last few years we have been focusing our efforts on a women’s ready-to-wear collection. This capsule wardrobe captures the 9 – 5 look perfectly for women. Fabric and garment design are at the core of what we do, as a result each piece is comfortable, smart, unique and above all made to last.

Our Moyne boyfriend style blazer is an office must – an easy fit and really comfortable jacket. Style with the Chloe knit – a lux cashmere blend jumper with a Liberty of London silk panel.

The Mona double breasted Mac is an essential piece for the Irish and British summer forecast – featuring a unique Donegal tweed trim on the under collar, this smart coat works across the 9 – 5 look to weeknights out perfectly. Style with our stretch wool cigarette pants.

My own personal work-travel essential is one of our luxury cashmere blend pashminas, this oversized scarf is ideal for hopping in and out of planes and taxis. Complete the 9 – 5 look with one of our tweed and leather laptop bags.

Father’s Day is just around the corner and we have selected a few very special gifts to mark this day, (this selection is made with our own Dad in mind) and more importantly, some thoughts on why Father’s Day is a perfect excuse to thank our own father for all that he does for us.

My brother Paddy, sister Rosy and I all work with our father so the relationship swings between Dad and chairman of our company. Working within a family business is very special and despite the understandable and numerous family ‘debates’, having the ongoing support and guidance from our father is something we all value highly.

My earliest memories of Dad revolve around cycling, mountains, boats, swimming and chocolate, the latter used to help us get through many mini expeditions around the hills and seas in Donegal! We grew up beside the coast in an idyllic setting for any child and Dad ensured we made the most out of it.

This high level of physical activity as children thankfully didn’t put us off exercise for the rest of our lives and we all still love our sport and challenges, often with Dad in tow – from cycling through Chile, (Rosy!) 24 hour mountain bike races, rowing, numerous marathons and one ironman.

If I was to sum up Dad in a few words – energetic, enthusiastic, positive and very much the life and soul of any party! Here is to you and all the other Dad’s on this Father’s Day and to many more of them!

Shop our Father’s Day collection

Dad and Rosy on Sandpiper, a traditional wooden Galway hooker.

June is here and with it we hope some sunny, warm weather, although in Ireland today it is blowing a strong wind, accompanied by heavy showers and very intermittent glimpses of blue sky! With this unpredictable weather pattern we have selected a capsule 9 – 5 wardrobe which should hopefully cover all eventualities.

Blue is the perfect 9 – 5 colour that transcends all seasons and weather!

A key piece this summer for us is the Banagher Reversible Mac, featuring a navy-blue puppy-tooth summer weight cotton blend fabric (designed and woven by us in Donegal) and a showerproof navy on the reverse. Style with a grey structure knit and chinos for a casual look or dress up with our navy travel suit (the perfect wool blend suit for any business travel – this suit is renowned for its durability and ability to remain relatively crease-free even after hours in a plane or car). Complete the look with a crisp white cotton shirt, cotton knit waistcoat (a comfortable, yet smart alternative to the traditional suit waistcoat) and silk knit tie.

For the casual Friday look check our shirt collection – the Drumbar denim shirt is a wardrobe staple for work or weekend. Shop Shirts.

The Throw – our luxurious throws are designed and woven in our mill in Donegal, Ireland. We use the finest of natural yarns – lambswool, alpaca and cashmere. They are available in two sizes – 220cm x 142cm and 150cm x 142cm. Explore throws.

Patterns feature classic herringbones, hopsack, colourful patchworks and oversized checks.

Colours are inspired by Donegal – sea blues, sky greys, grass greens, oats, soft pinks and creams.

The candle – a staple for any home and a beautiful gift. These natural wax candles are made in Ireland by Brooke & Shoals for Magee. We have four distinctive scents – lavender & coastal heathers, orange blossom and summer herbs, a sweet grapefruit and lemon zest and winter berries, cinnamon and nutmeg. These carefully chosen scents are inspired by scents we love – the sea, fresh oranges, zesty lemon and Christmas. Shop candles and diffusers.

Whether you are a passionate gardener or a philistine towards the art of horticulture, it is hard not to be inspired by the magical miniature worlds and oceans of colour that can be found The RHS Chelsea Flower Show, which was established in 1913.

The Yorkshire Garden – Mark Gregory

I do not profess to be a gardener, but my Mum is and when we were very small she started to create a paradise at home in Donegal. Enclosed within the walls of an old kitchen garden, this vivid creation has evolved over time into a sea of vibrant colour, vegetable ridges, secret paths and quiet corners. As children it was an idyllic space to explore and play. Many happy hours spent finding bugs and cultivating our own, albeit rather unsuccessful, little garden plots.

A glimpse of the garden at home. Explore Salthill Gardens.

For my own part I love spending time in gardens, they are a place of beauty, inspiration and calm. Every spring summer floral prints feature in our collection, paying homage to the wonders of nature.

Shop floral prints

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