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Design

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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.

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

Magee 1866 Men's collection SS19 featuring a Donegal silk & cotton blazer.
Atlantic Adventure SS19 – Men

This timeless nautical theme inspired by summer escapes has been given an sophisticated update for SS19.
Whilst texture is still present through the melange yarns and geometric weaves, the fabrics are sleeker and silhouettes are slimmer and more structured. The colours and fabric designs are more defined, reflecting the force of the ocean and the vividness created by the summer sun.
Key colours include turquoise, true raspberry, ice-cream white, pewter, ocean blue, air-force and deep navy, with a pop of chartreuse found within casual pieces.
The hero pieces include Donegal silk cotton blazers, graphic herringbone knits, geometric and bold pattern printed shirts; a modern, water-resistant quilted jacket and a reversible mac.





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