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Growing up with the family business, taking two very different paths, and finding themselves drawn back home to work alongside their father and brother at the helm of Magee 1866, wcaught up with Charlotte and Rosy Temple on sustainabilityslow fashion and siblings. 

As the fourth and fifth-generations behind Magee, since being founded by John Magee over 150 years ago, the business is literally in the family’s DNA with Charlotte as Design Director, Rosy as CEO of Magee Clothing & Retail, brother Patrick as CEO of Magee Weaving and their father Lynn Temple as Chairman. 

Everyone brings their individual talents to the table “Dad had never put any pressure on either myself or my two siblings to join Magee 1866, we all went off in different directions and in time all then felt the atavistic pull to come back! For me it took working in different environments to truly appreciate how fortunate I was to have a family business and one with an exciting future.” says Rosy. 

Although their mother Elizabeth has never worked in the business, “she is a solid sounding board for us all and has been for years” noted Charlotte. Both sisters praise the family home as a haven, with Elizabeth’s Salthill Gardens – a walled-in acre of secret paths and little follies, vegetables, trees, shrubs and flowers – the backdrop to many photoshoots, and a source of inspiration over the years. 

Temple siblings Patrick, Rosy and Charlotte.

Charlotte and Rosy have very different personalities but share a similar appreciation for the outdoors. “We have grown up in in the wilds of Donegal with the Atlantic Ocean and the Bluestack mountains on our doorstep – many happy hours spent swimming, sailing, running, riding, cycling and rowing to name just a few of our activities. Our home is surrounded by woodland providing endless adventures for us as children. Mum and Dad always encouraged a deep respect for where we grew up – surrounded by the sea and a magical landscape and to tread with care. We now really appreciate how lucky we are and how much we need to do to protect our natural environment. Sustainability is very much part of our family values and what we do at Magee 1866.” 

“We have always been about ‘slow fashion’, the finest of natural fibre yarns like wool and linen, which are biodegradable and renewable, are used to produce our sustainable fabrics and garments.” explains Rosy. “We want to create styles that will endure for years, pieces that will always have a home in your wardrobe.” adds Charlotte. “We’re particularly proud of our newly launched 1866 CLASSICS collection. This collection has been refined over the years and is made up of staples that are inspired by our heritage, designed for everyday and with longevity in mind.”  

On Charlotte’s visions for the future – “when I first started at Magee, we specialised in good quality men’s suits and jackets. Today, while we have some way to go, we are starting to capture the essence of an Irish family lifestyle brand across our home, men and women collections. The focus is luxury fabrics (many which are still woven by us in Donegal) and design, steeped in our heritage with contemporary styling.” 

Acknowledging the unprecedented year have found ourselves in, Rosy states that “It has been an incredibly challenging and difficult few months with the situation surrounding COVID-19 and not to mention the uncertainties of Brexit. While we are still very much in the middle of both these external and uncontrollable factors, we have a very clear vision for our future and look forward to the next 150 years!” 

What’s your favourite Magee piece in your wardrobe?  

Rosy: The beige Ards Biker jacket – the fabric was designed and made by us. It looks cool with dresses or jeans.  

Charlotte: The Camel & Oat cashmere blend pashmina – made in Donegal. I have always loved these pashminas and always have one with me – summer or winter. 

What new arrivals are you most looking forward to this season?  

Rosy: The Donegal tweed salt & pepper Georgie gilet.  

Charlotte: The Clooney coat – in a soft grey and white cashmere houndstooth.

 

Grey and white houndstooth

What’s a piece of advice that you’ve carried with you and who is it from?  

Rosy:  Mum has always told each of us since we were little to ‘be true to yourself’ and ‘to follow your own path’. Sometimes this might mean going against the grain, I’ve had a fairly un-conventional career from working at Christie’s Auction House to a food start up to cycling solo in Patagonia but it’s always worth daring to explore and to return all the better for the experience gained. And as siblings now working together, we all respect our very ‘individual’ characters!  

Charlotte: Rosy has always been black and white and takes emotion out of a situation. I have a lot to learn in this area, I am very like Dad in that I can get pretty passionate about getting my point of view across. I am trying to take a ‘calm’ leaf out of Rosy’s book with mixed results!   

What excites you about the future? / What are you passionate about?  

Rosy: I’m so glad to see that amidst the real challenges of Covid-19, sustainability is becoming an urgent conversation. I am hopeful that conversations will translate to much needed action around improving how we treat the planet. At Magee, we are set on building on our heritage of slow fashion and to make sure we leave a brand fit for the next generation.  

Charlotte: For the last few months we have been firefighting with COVID-19 but I am lucky now to be fully immersed in the creative and direction of the brand, which is a welcome distraction. I am really excited about our collections evolving into something that we as a family love to wear and use and cannot wait to share this. 

Cheeky last question – What’s it really like working with your siblings? 

Charlotte: We try to keep emotion to a minimum with business but it creeps in on occasion! However siblings are always there – day or night to talk through both the good and bad, this is very reassuring and invaluable for me, especially on the more challenging issues we might face.

As 2020 continues with all of its challenges, we’d thought we’d take a moment to share some of the ways we have been spending our time when not working at the kitchen table!

What are we reading right now?

Dad is an adventure fan and is enjoying Michael Palin’s Erebus which is about the story of the 19th century ship which met a tragic and mysterious end on Captain Franklin’s fateful expedition to find the ‘North West Passage’ in the Artic. Palin charts the ship’s arduous journeys and the host of characters on board who braved un-chartered waters. Paddy, the history man, is reading an early account of the life of Michael Collins. The book was written in the 1930s by Frank O’Connor and has plenty of colourful anecdotes and memories from Collin’s contemporaries. Rosy was lucky enough to go an amazing trip to Colombia in February, cycling from Bogota to the coast. Everywhere she went, people recommended checking out the Colombian author, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. On returning to home, she has been immersed in Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. “It’s an intense read that brings you into a vividly imagined world filled with all manner of human vices and virtues.” Rosy has always been the more intellectual sibling and is also working through a copy of Kahil Gibran’s The Prophet and she has taken to looking at this thought provoking collection of poems and even writing a few of the lines down. 

I am reading reading Dictatorland – the men who stole Africa by Paul Kenyon. A fascinating yet disturbing book about life after the colonies – the corruption, greed and global players mixed in with Africa. I have also started Time and how to spend it by James Wallman – in an attempt to get some guidance on how to capture that elusive work/life balance for evermore!

What have we been doing outside work? 

Each of us have always loved the outdoors and now is a time more than ever, to take a few minutes every day in any of the green spaces around us. We count ourselves very fortunate to live in rural areas and have all been watching the arrival of spring with new beech leaves appearing and yellow gorse in full bloom. Mum and Dad go down to the local pier for a morning swim and are always joined by the aquatic Labrador, Riley! Paddy keeps some Aberdeen Angus cows and has spent a lot of weekends mending fences! Rosy has managed to avoid the fencing and on weekends takes to the side roads on her bike, with her sketchbook to hand for a real sense of escape. I have been going for long walks and enjoying the luxury of spending more time with my children and husband. (Although I sadly do not think I am cut out for homeschooling – apart from nature walks and the lifecycle of frogs – tadpoles are everywhere!)

What have we been cooking?

Rosy has very questionable cooking skills but has taken to foraging for wild garlic to make pesto which looks impressive…but is very straightforward! Paddy is probably an even more questionable cook than Rosy but does in fairness make a decent loaf of brown bread. Dad is most proud of his barbecuing efforts this spring and has been experimenting with everything from home-made pizza’s to lamb. I love to cook and have been trying different risotto’s recently from pea & parmesan with some bacon lardons or tomato and fresh prawns! 

What is our favourite piece from Spring 2020?

As the old saying goes ‘never cast a clout till May be out’! With this in mind, Dad’s go to is of course the Cavan Gilet, a perfect source of warmth for the temperamental Donegal Spring! Paddy never feels the cold, so he is already pre-empting hot summer days in our Irish linen shirts. Like a lot of us, Rosy has been working from home and has been living in the comfy Willow linen trousers. I have a soft spot for the Emma coat – a summer or winter piece, oversized with patch pockets. We first launched it with a classic black & white herringbone, this Spring we have it in pale pink & cream cashmere blend and blue & white wool.

Explore our Spring 2020 collection for men and women.

Riley – an enthusiastic swimmer all year round!

With Mother’s Day (UK & Ireland) on Sunday we thought it would be a lovely opportunity to note how much our Mum means to us as a family. While Mum has never worked in our family business she is a solid sounding board for us all and has been for years – from business decisions, fielding heated family debates, (we try to keep emotion to a minimum with business but it creeps in on occasion!) to ideas on the seasonal collection of both fabrics and garments.

While not managing her expanding family with the three of us and grandchildren, (not to mention managing Dad!) Mum devotes much of her time to her garden – a walled-in acre of secret paths and little follies, vegetables, trees, shrubs and flowers.

It has been the backdrop to many of our summer photoshoots and it also provides inspiration behind specific design themes. As a child I have so many happy memories of playing for hours in this garden, catching bugs, hide & seek, creating obstacle courses with flower pots and canes and even attempts at my own horticultural creations – with mixed results. Today this garden is a playground for my own children when we visit the ‘Donegal grandparents’ and a calm space for me.

Salthill Gardens

I never quite appreciated how much our mothers do for us, that is until I had my own children – life is now a juggling act and multitasking is to the extreme – but very rewarding!

Thank you Mum for everything – for the early years – life lessons and watching us grow and develop, the trying teenage years – for your calmness and patience and for now – for your listening ear and grand-mum duties!

Mums’ favourite pieces this Spring Summer 2020 – The Emma coat, in a soft cashmere/wool blend pink and white herringbone Donegal tweed and a bright pink, blue and white patchwork scarf, designed and made in our mill in Donegal.

Explore our gift guide for Mother’s Day – there is something for all the wonderful mums out there!

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

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.

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