The European Commission are proposing a framework to protect the intellectual property for craft and industrial products including Donegal Tweed.
At Magee 1866, we are delighted to see the announcement from the EU Commission on the preliminary steps towards providing geographical protection for “craft and industrial products that rely on the originality and authenticity of traditional practices from their regions”. This framework will cover Donegal Tweed as well as products like Murano Glass and Porcelaine de Limoges and is similar to the protection offered to Champagne, Feta cheese and the Waterford Blaa under their “Protected Geographical indication” (PGI) status.
Patrick Temple, 5th generation family member and CEO of Magee Weaving, has been active in this campaign, starting with initial submissions to the EU a decade ago. Since then, Patrick has been working closely with other weavers in Co. Donegal, with vital support from the Design & Crafts Council Irelandand marketing and business consultant Muiris Kennedy, to champion this cause. This will be of huge benefit to weavers in Co. Donegal and to the long-term brand protection of Donegal Tweed.
“Europe has an exceptional legacy of world-renown crafts and industrial products. It is time that these producers benefit from a new intellectual property right, like food and wine producers, that will increase trust and visibility for their products, guaranteeing authenticity and reputation. Today’s initiative will contribute to the creation of skilled jobs especially for SMEs and to the development of tourism also in the more rural or economically weak areas.”
Donegal Tweed is an iconic part of the counties’ centuries old weaving tradition and is unique as a woven fabric due to the contrasting colourful neps/bur spun into the yarn which is then woven in a plain or twill weave, otherwise known as Salt & Pepper or Herringbone, respectfully. Rooted in the land and seascapes of Donegal, the colours were historically drawn from our surroundings and the unique Herringbone pattern is inspired by the fish caught in the Atlantic Ocean or patterns in the sand after the tide goes out. The Salt & Pepper design is inspired by the speckled landscape of the countryside.
Today, Donegal Tweed, as a vibrant, natural fibre and sustainable fabric, continues to form a principal part of our Magee 1866 collections. Our weaving mill in Donegal Town, on the banks of the River Eske, is still the beating heart of everything we do at Magee 1866. We are proud to support a tradition of weaving and manufacturing textiles in the northwest of Ireland, bringing a contemporary edge to an age-old craft.
Green is the colour perhaps most synonymous with Ireland – our fields and hedgerows, leafy green trees and mossy banks. It’s these unique landscapes that inspire our designers when creating our fabrics and collections.
To mark St. Patrick’s Day, we’ve collected some of our favourite green pieces.
Handwoven Salt & Pepper Donegal Tweed Jacket
A true Donegal Tweed, the salt & pepper weave is rich in colourful flecks, inspired by the flora and fauna found in the Northwest of Ireland. Handwoven in Donegal, this timeless green jacket is part of a long history of handweaving in Ireland, the foundation of our fifth-generation family business and a traditional and skilled craft we are proud to support.
The colour green is really versatile, you only need to look at a bunch of flowers to see that there is barely a shade it doesn’t compliment! Our Lunnaigh Lambswool V-Neck Jumper will integrate seamlessly into your wardrobe.
These books are Made in Ireland with tweed designed and woven at our mill, this capsule collection of tweed notebooks speak to Ireland’s long literary tradition. Who knows, a future great novel or poem might be being penned in one as we speak!
The vibrant green of this Wigwam Throw, designed and woven at our mill on the banks of the River Eske, brings this intricate geometric pattern to life. Dappled with colourful Donegal flecks, this throw will add a touch of spring to your interiors.
Casual Luxe by Magee 1866 is a response to the needs and lifestyle changes of modern-day life. This capsule collection, influenced by weekends on the West Coast of Ireland, is made up of high-quality jersey basics and designed to be worn on their own or layered.
With a colour palette taken directly from the Magee 1866 brand, these pieces are adaptable for lots of weekend activities; from walking on the beach to long, lazy brunches with friends. Key finishing touches include fabrics woven by us in Donegal in our unique 1866 branding, making it a truly original collection.
These on-trend pieces are a seamless blend of luxury and casual, low maintenance and comfort, sophistication and simplicity. Our sustainable message is continued through the use of organic cottons and locally sourced linens. This is a collection to enjoy life’s simple pleasures and each piece is designed with longevity in mind.
One of our favourite pieces in the collection is the Navy Malin 1866 Full Zip Sweat featuring a relaxed fit and contemporary Donegal Tweed herringbone ‘1866’ applique. Mix and match with other pieces in the collection and style with casual chinos for the ultimate weekend look.
The use of houndstooth’s baby brother ‘puppytooth’ is a nod to our weaving heritage. The navy and grey micro pattern of the Puppytooth Malin Full Zip Sweat and Seahill Crew Neck Jumper, adds a twist to classic styles. Both pieces are designed to be layered over a t-shirt from the collection or a casual linen shirt for off-duty comfort without compromising on style.
The colour pink can be romantic and beautiful but also bright and vivacious. Its adaptability is just one of the reasons we love to incorporate pink into our cloths and collections.
This season we celebrate the full spectrum of the colour – from the hot and brave pinks with riotous colour bursts reminiscent of the joyful Holi Festival of Colour (and the addictive Candy Crush game), to the relaxed and delicate blush tones that evoke a tranquil vibe powerfully rooted in the authenticity and assurance of nature.
The Subtle Pink Twist
The Grace coat has returned with a luxury multicoloured twist. The exaggerated cotton, wool and silk blend sharkskin weave, features dusky pinks, aqua and sea blues and off-white chunky yarns, interwoven with contemporary gold and silver lurex for a little bit of dazzle!
The Hot Pink
Our hot pink Lily Donegal Tweed jacket provides a luxurious burst of colour to any outfit. The lightweight tweed, designed and woven at our mill by our skilled weavers, is dappled with flecks of teal and purple. The jacket’s princess seams, peak lapel and a cut-away front give it a flattering, feminine appearance without sacrificing on comfort.
Soft pastel colours of violet, ochre and aqua are contrasted against a soft pink base in a wonderfully ornate Liberty Kew garden’s floral print on our Tracy tailored fit shirt. Designed and drawn in the Liberty of London Fabrics studio in a fine line style, this print offers a dreamy and delicate interpretation of Kew Gardens’ tropical flora. Liberty of London Tana Lawn Cotton’s distinctive hand-feel and translucent softness make it a versatile favourite.
Picks for Him
A summery blend of cotton, silk and linen perfectly showcase the dusky pink check in this classic fit Liffey jacket. Designed and woven in Ireland, this opulent fabric blend is light and airy. Styled with a crisp white Irish linen shirt and chinos, this jacket is an ideal way to introduce some colour into your summer wardrobe.
If you’re still a little shy of colour, a great way to dip your toe in, is with knitwear. Styled under jackets or over shirts, a pop of pink, like our Carn Cotton ¼ Zip Jumper, elevates an outfit while keeping you comfortable and warm.
Pink in our Home and Accessory Collections
Another reason we love pink is because it reminds us of home. This time of year, the roses in Salthill’s garden (Mum’s) are in full bloom and provide endless inspiration for our accessory collection.
Pale pink checks and herringbones in the softest blends of wool, cashmere and alpaca, woven in Donegal by us bring a touch of luxury to your interiors.
Colour is at the heart of what we do at Magee 1866, in the 1960’s our mill started to focus on more colourful fabrics, moving away from the functional, hardwearing tweeds which sometimes lacked colour into more design lead cloths, inspired by our surrounding land and seascape. The ‘true Donegal tweed’ is a salt and pepper which is speckled with bright colours – gorse yellows, sea blues, sky greys, mossy greens, fuchsia pinks and leafy reds and oranges.
Blue is one of my favourite colours and a seasonal classic – summer or winter and a colour that works across men’s, women’s and home accessories. We take much of our inspiration from nature and in Donegal we are surrounded by blues – the sea, the sky (albeit often grey!), flowers and our landscape. The mountains near Donegal town are aptly named the Bluestack mountains.
We use blue across many pieces from the more formal to casual. It is an easy colour to wear and has such an amazing colour palette from classic navies to mid-denim to pale blues. I love this herringbone mid-blue Emma coat – with a soft creamy white contrast.
Blue is a beautiful colour to incorporate into your home, on its own in varying shades or mixed with oats, greys or creams.
When it comes to braving winter weather, your favourite coat – the one you’ll be reaching for, year after year – needs to check some essential boxes: beautiful quality that wears well with age, it needs to be warm, and the silhouette should withstand the test of time, from the workday commute to weekend adventures.
For us, there’s no better answer than a Donegal Tweed coat. Donegal Tweed is designed to keep you warm, and at our weaving mill, we have spent years experimenting and designing to create tweeds that are luxuriously warm, timeless and made with natural fibres. For a behind-the-scenes look at our weaving mill, look no further…
This Autumn Winter 2019, we have launched some new shapes and styles of coats for men and women, in Donegal Tweeds designed and woven at our mill in Donegal.
All new this season, the Alexa is designed to make a statement. Mid-length, with raglan shoulders and deep hand-warmer pockets, this coat is meant to be worn over anything, to anything, whether it’s work or play.
The fabric is an over-sized red and white check, inspired by the Irish Brigid’s Cross. It’s designed and woven at our weaving mill; take a look at its journey through our weaving mill, from warping to mending and final examinations above.
“This is one of my favourite Magee women’s coats, we have a similar men’s raglan sleeve coat – the Corrib which we have run in our collections for years and people often asked me can you do a women’s version! Here it is – the Alexa is a timeless coat that can be worn year after year. I just love this oversized fabric design, which showcases what our mill do best – intricate designs in beautiful natural fibres.” Charlotte Temple – Creative Director
It’s no secret thatthe Emma coat is one of our favourites. It’s easily styled for day or night, and can be worn over trousers and a blouse, or a dress with heels. Worn unbuttoned, the coat has a bit of movement to it that we love.
This season, the Emma coat comes in two Donegal Tweed colourways: a classic black and white herringbone, and a herringbone in mulberry and camel.
For occasions and outfits that call for a polished look, the Linsford is the perfect option. Princess seams help the Linsford sit close to the body, giving a fitted silhouette. The Nehru collar can be worn standing up, or folded down to reveal a pop of velvet in the lining.
There’s no doubt that men’s style this decade has taken a lot of inspiration from BBC’s Peaky Blinders, and the Corrib coat is the perfect answer to it. A long silhouette and raglan sleeves make it the perfect winter overcoat, from workdays to casual weekends.
There are few looks as timeless as the peacoat. It’s been a staple look for men since the 1800s, bringing a nautical element to the winter wardrobe along with a sharp, tailored silhouette. Our Fintra peacoat comes in a navy herringbone Donegal Tweed, designed and woven at our mill.
Sustainability is very
much part of our family values and what we do at Magee 1866. We recognise that it is a not a
straightforward concept with easy solutions. Yet, as a family we are on board to drive a philosophy which respects
our environment and how we do business in it.
We have grown up in in the wilds of Donegal with the Atlantic on our doorstep for swimming and the Bluestacks Mountains just up the road for exploring. Mum and Dad have always encouraged a deep respect for this magic landscape at home and to tread with care. This culture of care for the landscape around us means putting time and effort into make sustainable choices from planting belts of mixed forestry to eating organically, growing vegetables and cycling in and out to work. This sustainable set of lifestyle values as a family translates to what we do at work. We don’t leave them at home!
When it comes to work, for over 150 years sustainability has been inherent in our DNA. We focus on using natural fibres like wool which is renewable and biodegradable by default. Natrual fibres create fabric and clothing which is of a high quality, a far cry from the ‘throw away’ culture of fast fashion. Today, we look to harness this sustainable core and to bring its essence through our collections. When you invest in a coat like the Emma (below), you are buying a piece which is made of wool, it is made to last and to be enjoyed season after season. As a 5th generation family business, we are not here today and gone tomorrow and neither is our clothing.
It is so encouraging to see that sustainability is now part of a more mainstream conversation around the world. I am currently in Tokyo with work and also to commiserate with Irish fans over our world cup loss…! Yesterday, I took part in the ‘Tweed Run Tokyo’.
The event was to highlight the versatility of the fabric, its sustainable virtues and to celebrate this with an emissions free pedal about the vast city. What an experience and a vibrant ensemble of bold style and panache!
I talked to the team from the beautiful United Arrows clothing store. They shared with me the Japanese concept of Mottainai which is a Japanese term to convey a ‘sense of regret concerning waste’ and a request to ‘not waste anything worthy’ from food to object. It was fascinating to hear of this old proverb, now being applied to today’s emphasis on moving away from a throw-away culture.
On my return from this provoking event, I bought a single banana…which was completely wrapped in plastic. As a world of consumers, living sustainably is undeniably complex but we hope that the spirit of Mottaninai will start to prevail! At Magee 1866, we hope that you will join us on the journey to create and wear clothing which pays heed to the sensitivities of the environment.
We talk to Patrick Temple, CEO of Magee Weaving and Susie Page, Magee Textile Designer about what brought them to work in one of Ireland’s oldest weaving mills and where mill’s direction is for the future.
As one of the 5th generation behind Magee 1866 and as an engineer by training, Patrick has a real affinity with the Mill. Patrick shares with us what drew him to this specific area of Magee 1866 from a young age:
‘’When I was a child, Dad and I would often call in with hand-weavers around rural Donegal, some of the weavers lived miles away and it was always a great expedition to find our way up narrow side roads in the mountainous valleys. I loved being allowed into the ‘weaver’s shed’ where the loom sat with its well-worn seat. I was always asking dozens of questions about how the loom worked and how all of those of yarns came together to form ‘Donegal Tweed’, a fabric that has been part of the local heritage in the northwest of Ireland for centuries. Donegal Tweed is a woollen fabric, distinctive in its flecks of colour and ‘salt and pepper’ or ‘herringbone’ patterns. Donegal Tweed is what our ancestor, John Magee, started buying back in the 1860s and that heritage remains very much part of who we are today.
I was also in and out of the Mill all the time, running about the warping machines and looms…health and safety wasn’t quite so rigorous in the early 1990s! As you might have guessed, I was the child with a lot of Lego and Meccano sets, so the literal nuts and bolts of weaving naturally appealed. Although, I didn’t go straight into the Weaving after school as Dad always encouraged us to go off and do our own thing before getting involved, so I trained as an Engineer in Trinity College, Dublin. This led to work in London, Sydney and then Scotland where my main project involved developing wave energy as a sustainable and renewable resource. In my late twenties, I was then ready to come back to the Weaving Mill. I was immediately involved in all of the complex areas around production, working through the logistics and operations of turning tonnes of yarn into thousands of meters of fabric each season. I work with highly skilled teams from the textile designers to warpers, weavers, finishers and menders on the mill floor. I feel privileged to work with people who have been connected to weaving and Magee for generations. Today, we work to bring all of this knowledge into our fabric and work with our designers to bring a contemporary edge to this wealth of heritage.’’
This means that an emphasis on design and creativity is key to us today and for our future. Susie Page, one of our lead fabric designers, came to us from Scotland, which also has a rich heritage in textile design and manufacturing.
“I wanted to do something connected with fabric design, so I came to Donegal, which is really renowned for its tweed and craft history. Donegal is such a lovely place to live and work, but due to the variety of customers we work with, we also have the opportunity to travel throughout the world. We get inspiration from what we see in shops and exhibitions in key cities such as London and New York, but here in Donegal, we also get the peace we need for design inspiration. It’s good to have that balance.”
When designing fabric, our design team consider both our rich heritage taken from our beautifularchive, in balance with new trends that we see coming through within the fashion world.
“We’re always trying to do something new and innovative”, Susie says, “while covering our classics as well. Each season we include new creative patterns and colour combinations. When working with customers, we sometimes get new ideas from them as well; they might request a colour combination that we haven’t thought of, and in exchange we often surprise our customers with traditional patterns used in different ways, in new colour palettes, which is exciting for them, too.”
For our fabric designers, the process begins with creating mood boards and deciding on the qualities of fabrics they want to develop that season, and the stories they want to tell through that fabric. Whether it’s a traditional Irish linen or a rich Donegal Tweed.
They then design the yarn that will make up the fabric. Working closely with our spinners in developing our own colours, our designers will select the finer details down to for example the nepps of colour that come through in our Donegal Tweeds.
Our designers then create ‘blankets’, which showcase different colour combinations, woven together in one fabric. Sometimes unexpected colour combinations can inspire a new direction for their collection, but usually they have planned the exact end result they would like to achieve.
The finalised designs then go into production within our weaving mill, where the fabric is warped, woven and finished by our expert team, ready to be shipped off into the world. This fabric is used then by our own Magee 1866 clothing collections, as well as also being exported internationally to other clothing brands, tailors, and more.
And finally, an all-important word on sustainability. Patrick’s experience in work with renewable energy together with the family’s inherent interest and respect for the environment means that sustainability has always been relevant to the Mill. Today, it is really front of mind. For Patrick, it is essential to continue working with natural, biodegradable and renewable fibres like wool, cashmere, and flax. These fibres weave together to make fabric which stands the test of time.
“Magee Weaving brings you a unique fabric which is deeply imbued with the knowledge of generations of weavers, brought to life by the vibrancy of our design and by its very nature, a sustainable choice.”
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!
There’s no doubt that the iconic Peaky Blinders series from BBC One, and especially Cillian Murphy’s performance of 20th-century ganglord, Tommy Shelby, has had a huge influence on men’s style everywhere. We can see its influence all over the streets of Ireland and the UK, from men’s haircuts to the rising popularity of the baker cap.
Magee 1866 has over 150 years of history, designing, weaving and tailoring, so of course, Peaky Blinders ticks all the boxes for us. We wouldn’t recommend rocking up to work on Monday in a full three-piece tweed suit with a baker’s cap on top (unless you really want to?) but with a bit of modern sense, you can achieve the Tommy Shelby look for any occasion.
1 | The Suit
For the role of Tommy Shelby, costume designer Stephanie Collie had several suits made by London-based tailor Keith Watson.
Having a suit that fits well is essential; it will give you that Tommy Shelby swagger without all the criminal activity. Fitted, tapered trousers will give any man more height, and give a modern look. The trousers mightn’t be entirely historically accurate in Peaky Blinders (apparently bell-bottoms were the look of choice) but the tailored trouser is definitely sharp looking, and we would recommend going the same way.
Among the Shelby clan, tweed rules the day, with grey herringbone and dark checks coming through. This look is reminiscent of another era, while still being entirely comfortable, modern and wearable. If you’re going all-out, definitely include the waistcoat (and a pocket watch!) but for an updated look, you can make it more casual by leaving the waistcoat at home. It’s good to have options.
2 | Outerwear
The Baker’s cap is potentially the most essential part of this look, dare we say it. It’s different to a flat cap, as it has a more structured design and a button on top. These caps were a popular choice in the early 20th century.
And then, of course, there’s the coat. Cillian Murphy’s character is seen in a long wool coat with a prominent lapel. His coat is slightly oversized (probably for gun-slinging purposes) but it makes an attractive silhouette, and is easy to wear over a suit.
Other essential details include black gloves, sturdy boots, and a pocket watch, at your discretion.
3 | The Shirt
Especially in the first season, Tommy Shelby is seen pretty much exclusively in a penny-collar shirt, sans tie. Difficult enough to find today, the grandfather collar shirt is a suitable substitute, with the same rounded collar and button-up neck. Style it with a crisp white linen for the Tommy Shelby look, or a striped cotton flannel for added warmth.
4 | The Dinner Suit
For a man whose idea of ‘business casual’ is a three-piece suit and pocketwatch, it’s no surprise that Cillian Murphy’s character goes all-out for formal wear. The black dinner suit has a timeless, cinematic elegance, and it’s making a comeback.
The dinner suit is usually worn as a two-piece – jacket and trousers – with a crisp white formal shirt and a black bowtie, just like Tommy Shelby above.