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Tweed

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Every year in September we take time to celebrate our rich heritage and as a 5th generation family business first established in the 1800s, we have lots in the archives to reflect on. This year, we will be focusing on design and what has changed in over 150 years.  

In the 19th century, founder John Magee, a wholesale cloth merchant, would visit monthly tweed markets across South-West Donegal, trading directly with the weavers. The then hardwearing, coarse fabric was handwoven across Donegal in the homes of part-time fishermen and farmers as the perfect fabric for dissipating the damp and cold weather, so often found in the North-West of Ireland, a far cry from the luxurious cloths being produced today. 

Traditionally, there have always been two ‘true’ Donegal tweed patterns – Salt & Pepper and Herringbone (said to be inspired by fishbones), but that didn’t mean it was always the same, there was lots of opportunity to add colour and personality with the signature neps, the defining characteristic of Donegal Tweeds. The yarn was dyed with natural dyes made from lichen, flowers, berries, and other plants which reflected the natural beauty of the Donegal landscape, and these colourful flecks were created during the yarn spinning process. 

Robert Temple, John Magee’s apprentice and cousin took over the business in the early 1900s and made some revolutionary changes. Robert brought the handweavers in-house, opening a tweed factory where the design and quality could be more closely controlled, ensuring consistency across repeat fabrics. This move is seen by many as having saved handwoven Donegal Tweed from extinction. 

Moving forward to the middle of the century, and the next generation, we were still focused primarily on handweaving and handknitting, but fashions were changing. We started tailoring in the 1940’s with a focus on men’s jackets and suiting. Magee 1866 stood out from the many others producing dull, grey ‘de-mob’ suiting at the time with our unique and colourful fabrics.  

The Magee thronproof suit

We were then established in international fashion in the 1960s due to the relationship between Col. Bob Harris (brother-In-law of Howard Temple) and the Irish designers Sybil Connolly and Irene Gilbert. They began to use Donegal Tweed, which had previously been seen as a ‘functional, hard-wearing fabric,’ in their collections which appealed especially to the US market. This launched Donegal Tweed on the global fashion scene, and it has grown from there. 

Irene Gilbert designs in Magee Tweed. Photographer unknown.

Vintage Magee 1866 ads

As continental competition grew in the 70s and 80s, our weaving mill shifted gears and we became a more fashion orientated business. Power looms were introduced, allowing us to develop lighter, softer, more luxurious cloths in more intricate designs, paving the way for the introduction of our first women’s collections in the 1990s. 

The classic salt & pepper and herringbone designs are still very much part of our collections today, and we are always looking at ways to adapt these timeless designs into modern pieces. 

Our weaving mill in Donegal Town, on the banks of the River Eske, is still the beating heart of everything we do at Magee and we are proud to support a tradition of weaving and manufacturing textiles in the North-West of Ireland, bringing a contemporary edge to an age-old craft.   

The design process

There is much to consider when preparing a collection. Our designers in the mill work closely with our clothing designers, looking to our rich heritage, extensive archive, and the inspirational landscape of Donegal, this is balanced with new trends and the needs of our many customers.⁠ They plan what we would like to convey through the collection deciding on core fabrics to develop and the stories we wish to tell with each cloth, design and finished product.  

Mood boards are worked on – snippets from magazines, old photos, colours swatches, archive fabrics and yarns are collated. Then the technical aspect starts -the detailed fabric design and colour balance, the fit and styling details on a garment. Sampling starts both through our mill and with our garment suppliers. The mill tends to work over twelve months ahead of the next season, while our clothing collection are six to nine months ahead. ⁠ 

Magee 1866 Autumn Winter 2022 Collection

Since we started in the 1800s our focus has always been on slow fashion and natural fibre fabrics – wool, lambswool, alpaca, cashmere, and linen.  

Our fabric and clothing collections have certainly evolved over the years, the 1940s embraced the thorn proof suit, moving into the 70s/80s and bold checks took over. Today, we work towards creating lifestyle collections for both men and women – taking elements of the past and working them into a variety of products. The casual movement is global, and we are now making our incredible fabrics into unstructured, light, and beautiful crafted pieces. In the early 2000s we launched our throw and scarf collection; these luxurious products are extra special as they are 100% Irish made.  

In the beginning, our fabric was used locally and then sold into the UK, today, thousands of metres, designed and woven in Donegal, are used by international fashion brands, and shipped all over the world. With all this innovation, we are proud of the fact that we are also still handweaving in Donegal. 

We are passionate about the preservation of the heritage of weaving and design in Donegal. Trends evolve, but Donegal Tweed is timeless.  

Follow our journey throughout the month on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and #Magee1866Heritage and sign up to our mailing list to be the first to hear about new arrivals. 

Autumn Winter 2022 is designed to showcase the best of what we do, taking our unique fabrics and creating timeless pieces. 

We look to the past to inform our future, our ethos as a company has always been one of ‘slow fashion’, with high quality, natural fibre fabrics our focus. This season we dipped into our archives and revived some exciting patterns, adding a contemporary slant. 

Continuing on from our Spring Summer collection there is an emphasis on the more casual, comfortable pieces including fleece lined shirt jackets, Scottish knitwear, drawstring trousers, quilted jackets and of course, new styles in Donegal Tweeds.  

However, there is a time for dressing up and we love to dress up! Highlights in our men’s luxury tailored collection include Donegal Tweed suit and a blackwatch dinner jacket.  

We continue to draw inspiration from our surrounding land and seascapes. Each piece is carefully executed from concept to design to make, ensuring that these products stand the test of time and can be worn in conjunction with past and future collections. These are pieces to buy now and keep forever.  “  

 -Design Director, and 5th generation family member, Charlotte Temple.   

The collection is divided into colour stories, key base colours of blue, green, brown and grey are highlighted with seasonal pops of orange, yellow, plum and oat. We designed the versatile and adaptable pallet to be styled multiple ways and to integrate well into your existing winter wardrobe. As always, the fabric collection embraces natural fibres – wool, cotton, cashmere, linen and merino, much of which is designed and woven at our own mill in Donegal.  

WOMEN’S

The focus of the women’s outerwear range is timeless design but also function, with two notable new additions.

The Nessa quilted coat is a wardrobe staple, a relaxed fit finishing mid-thigh, this is the style to wear while running weekend errands over jeans, a luxurious piece of knitwear and trainers.

The Cara is a more put together take on the parka coat, a sophisticated silhouette featuring a wide, oversized collar, deep patch pockets in a wool blackwatch check, coated with Teflon for protection against the elements and a navy cotton twill.

These new styles join favourites such as the Jessica tweed coat in a bold twill and the popular Josie short coat, introduced last year, in a classic check. 

Lightweight and luxuriously soft, this season sees the introduction of a range of organic cotton and cashmere blend jumpers. Available in two styles – the Imogen and Eve – and a selection of capsule wardrobe-worthy colours. These styles are designed to pair perfectly with our Donegal Tweed jackets such as the Milly or Mourne

We are always developing new ways to incorporate our own fabrics in more casual styles, this season the Clodagh overshirt is a resounding success. Unstructured, simple with clean lines and patch pockets, this style is available in a modern blue check with pops of silver lurex and a luxurious baby alpaca and lambswool blend herringbone, a cloth which pays full homage to our heritage, Herringbone being one of the ‘true’ Donegal Tweed patterns. Here it is enlivened with colourful neps of gorse yellow, sky blue, burnt orange, moss green, lavender, and ruby red, offering endless opportunities for coordination. 

MEN’S

  

Alongside our classic coat styles in signature Donegal Tweeds, the men’s outerwear range is enhanced this season by two new casual styles. Ideal for seasonal transitions, the Sheelin quilted jacket is a short lightweight style available in two showerproof styles – faux suede and luxurious blackwatch wool check with Teflon.  

Heavily influenced by Chairman, and 4th generation family member, Lynn Temple’s love of the outdoors, the Melvin is a chunky shirt jacket in tweed, lined with a lofty fleece. A wardrobe workhorse, this style, in two rich winter checks, looks just as good in the great outdoors as it does on a city break.  

A heavier weight style for when the temperatures begin to dip, the Moross duffle coat is the ultimate winter coat in a navy and charcoal glencheck tweed. Featuring all the details synonymous with a duffle coat, this cosy style is a timeless investment piece. 

  

One of the key characteristics of Donegal Tweed is the colourful neps you find in the threads, originally made using natural-plant dyes found in the surrounding landscape, this season we have brought this ‘Donegal fleck’ through to our  knitwear. The Clifden turtleneck and Port fisherman rib cardigan both pay homage to Ireland’s long standing fishing traditions available in a seasonal mulberry red speckled with yellow and blue and timeless oat grey with navy and ochre flecks. The range of knitwear is designed to pair with the selection of chinos, cords and flannel shirts for a winter layering look.  

Forever styles, designed to last. Shop in store or online from August.

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At Magee 1866, we have been specialising in exquisite tailoring since the 1940’s. Our Made to Measure service combines our expert tailoring with our love of luxury fabrics.
Tailoring Then & Now 

A 5th generation Irish family business, Magee 1866 was founded on handwoven tweed over 150 years ago. The company started by sending fabric bunches to tailors throughout the UK and Ireland. In the mid-1940s Howard Temple (2nd generation) saw an increasing demand for ready-to-wear with a decline in the tailoring trade and started to manufacture tailored garments. 

Already known for our colourful Donegal Tweeds, moving to the finished garment was a natural progression. Our unique fabrics stood out from the industrial grey suiting that was the main product on the market. Magee 1866 thornproof suits and Donegal Tweed jackets stood the test of time and put us on the map for tailoring. The thornproof suit cost about 15 guineas, or £6 at the time. 

Building on this extensive history, tailoring is still at the heart of our business. Alongside this, and in line with how we dress today, we have expanded our offering and developed casual lifestyle collections. However, a beautifully tailored suit or jacket is still an essential piece for every wardrobe. 

Attention to detail – internally and externally – is key, with each component designed and made with care. Every piece plays a part. The elements you don’t see inside the garment are so important to how the jacket or trouser fits on the body and the linings, buttons, melton, piping, stitching, embroidery and of course, the main body fabric, bring the style together. 

The Made to Measure collection also offers a wide selection of design options – for example single or double-breasted jacket or waistcoat, the number and style of pockets and buttons, lapel width and design, single or double vent as well as side adjusters and hem details on trousers. 

Fabrics include our beautiful Donegal Tweeds – timeless Herringbones and Salt & Peppers, speckled with flecks of colour; classic pure new wool suiting in pinstripes, plains, checks and micro-designs; travel suiting with stretch and Irish Linens. 

Our design philosophy has always promoted the concept of ‘slow fashion’ through timeless collections, where pieces are designed to be worn time and time again. Sustainable fabric and high-quality, long-lasting products define our DNA.

The Process 

Our in store tailoring experts will take you through five short steps to help you find exactly what you’re looking for, be it for a wedding, special occasion, business suit or indeed a smart blazer. 

1. The Fit

Get the perfect fit. Your suit is made from scratch to your measurements, based on two tailoring blocks – classic or tailored. Our in store tailoring experts will work off the best block for you and make the necessary adjustments to ensure you have a perfectly fitting garment. 

2. The Cloth 

Select your fabric. Choose from dozens of fabrics, many of which are designed and woven at our mill in Donegal. 

3. The Details 

Select the finer details. Choose from our extensive collection of linings, buttons, threads, collars, meltons and piping. Select from a variety of styling details. This is the stage where you can really make your mark. 

4. Finishing Touches 

Personalise it. Add the finishing touches to your suit or jacket with personalised embroidery. 

5. Delivery 

Ready to wear. Your order will take six weeks to arrive from the date of order and can be collected from our stores or delivered direct to your door.  

Make an Appointment 

Our Made to Measure service is available from Magee of Donegal, Magee of South Anne Street and Magee at Arnotts (Dublin). In addition, the service is available across selected stockists in the UK and Ireland. 

In fashion, we are always looking to the future, collections are planned and prepared months in advance, with multiple teams involved. All of this hard work comes to fruition on photoshoot days and it is when the next stage of a collection’s journey begins… 

“Seeing designs go from sketches and swatches to real, wearable garments is always a thrill. On a photoshoot you get the opportunity to style and play and have fun with the collection, it’s certainly one of my favourite parts of the job!”  

Design Director, Charlotte Temple.

We have lots of exciting styles coming this Autumn Winter, it’s a collection we’re really proud of. Based on our roots and designed to showcase the best of what we do, taking our unique fabrics and creating timeless pieces. We can’t wait to share it with you, in the meantime, here’s a brief behind the scenes look at our recent shoot. A dreamy location and fantastic team, it doesn’t get much better.  

Models: Paul Kerr and Phoebe Tan of Morgan the Agency

Photography: Suzy McCanny 

Videography: The Focus Finders 

Hair: Carla Flannery

Hair: Carla Flannery

Make-up: Michelle Anderson Make-up  

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 Ireland and 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.” 

EU Commissioner for Internal Markets, Thierry Breton 

 
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. 

Introducing the Magee 1866 Spring/Summer 2022 Collection – COAST  

Inspired by over 1,000 kilometres of Donegal coastline, where we have been designing, weaving and tailoring luxurious fabrics for five generations. 

“Spring Summer 2022 was designed with hope in mind following the long months of a pandemic that has turned the world upside-down. While working on the collection we had taken time to watch spring slowly appearing following a winter of uncertainties. The idea of a fresh start and new life are the core elements in our colourful and optimistic collection for SS22.    

We have looked at how we have adapted over the last couple of years, especially what we are wearing. The emphasis on casual wear has accelerated and we have embraced this more relaxed, comfortable approach in this collection with Irish linen shirts and drawstring trousers, luxury cashmere jumpers, sweats and colourful cotton polos and t-shirts.  

However, we are looking forward to dressing up again! Our tailored collection includes classic lightweight tweeds and summer weight jackets, but with a focus on unstructured silk and linen blend jackets styled with lightweight cotton chinos and printed shirts.” 

Classic patterns sit beside bold and oversized checks in this collection with the colour pallet inspired by the sea and land. Sea blues, mossy greens, earthy oats, peaty browns are accented by the colours of local flora like gorse, fuchsia, blackberry, moss and montbretia that were historically used to create the colourful speckles synonymous with Donegal Tweeds. “

-Design Director, and 5th generation family member, Charlotte Temple reflects on the design process.  

Cheerful, bright colours of raspberry pink, sunset orange, naval and sea blues are contrasted in this collection with timeless, neutral shades of natural linen oat, sky grey, olive and forest greens. While the fabrics focus on natural fibres – silk, cotton, cashmere, linen, merino and lambswool, much of which is designed and woven at our mill in Donegal, Ireland.  

Women’s Collection

A new addition to the range of knitwear is a luxurious cotton cashmere blend in four styles This season sees a host of new additions to the women’s collection. The Aoife is a preppy, short unstructured jacket in a micro houndstooth silk and cotton blend tweed and is complemented by a beautiful range of luxurious lightweight cashmere knitwear. 

The Rebecca shirt dress is a standout piece, available in three colours ranging from calming pale blue Irish linen to a vibrant Liberty of London print. The Liberty of London pieces don’t end there, the new Patty top will add a burst of colour to your wardrobe and the easy to wear Tessa tunic will become your go-to top for trips to the beach. Women’s collection favourites like the Emma and Grace coats return in fresh, new lightweight tweeds, designed and woven at our mill. 

 

Men’s Collection

Ireland’s unpredictable weather is taken into account in the Men’s collection, the timeless Glenveigh quilted jacket is joined by a new style, the Dingle, a 4-pocket showerproof unstructured jacket, available in two colours.   

Familiar tailored styles like the Liffey Jacket are reimagined in a summery mix of linen and silk blends, woven in house, with a new addition, the Adare, a soft unstructured jacket that offers a comfortable, put together look. Making a triumphant return to the men’s collection after a long absence, men’s shorts, in cotton chino or linen, are accompanied by a selection of t-shirts, polos and the softest cotton sweatshirts.  

Irish Linen

Natural fibre fabrics are central to our collections and this season is no exception with Irish Linen making up a large part of Spring Summer for both men and women.

The ultimate versatile fabric, linen is synonymous with summer and perfect whether you’re relaxing on the beach or working in the city. Crafted in Irish Linen, woven and finished at the Magee weaving mill in Donegal, highlights include the Rowan overshirt for men, the Mourne boyfriend fit jacket for women, drawstring trousers for both and for the ultimate in summer chic, the Finn suit in a dark inky blue linen, perfect for a special occasion.  

This collection is designed to maximise your summer and as always, each quality piece is made with longevity in mind.  

Shop in store or online from February.

Photography: Suzy McCanny  

Videography: Ciarán Carty  

Share joy this Christmas, treat the ones you love to a gift from Magee 1866.   

Our gift guides have been carefully curated to bring together the best present ideas from across our collections. 

Whether you want to spread good cheer, say thanks or ‘I missed you’, you can be assured that each piece has been designed and made with longevity in mind and will be enjoyed and treasured for years to come. 

For that extra special someone, choose from our signature Donegal Tweed jackets and outerwear. Timeless styles that will wow and impress, featuring the exquisite finishing touches associated with Magee 1866. 

Nothing says Christmas like cosy knitwear. Our selection takes this to the next level with luxurious cashmere blends for him and her, these are pieces we would be thrilled to find under the tree. 

For homegrown gifting, look no further than our Made in Ireland guide showcasing our range scarves, pashminas and throws proudly designed and woven at our mill in Donegal, as well as pieces in collaboration with other Irish makers and mills, such as our hand poured candles.  

A really exciting addition to our Home Interiors collection, just in time for Christmas, the new Magee 1866 X Irish Wool throws are designed and woven at our mill using wool sourced from Irish farms and spun in Donegal. A continuation of our commitment to sustainability and developing Irish wool for use in our textiles. 

Look to our Donegal Tweed accessories for fantastic stocking fillers, from keyrings to purses to the classic flat cap. And if you are just not sure, you can’t go wrong with a Magee 1866 voucher.  

Join us in finding fun in the little moments, giving thanks and celebrating family. 

We hope you find inspiration and share joy this year.  

In a continuation of our commitment to developing Irish wool for use in our textiles, we are proud to present the latest additions to the Magee 1866 X Irish Wool collection.

At Magee 1866, we are part of a wider movement to develop and use Irish Wool in our textiles. We have been working with Donegal Yarns, a local yarn supplier just up the road in Kilcar on sourcing wool from Irish farms across the country.

Patrick Temple, CEO of Magee Weaving has also teamed up with sheep farmer James Lorinko to develop fine Irish Wool on the family farm at Rathforker, just outside Donegal Town and with fields overlooking the Atlantic.

The wool is then spun by Donegal Yarns and designed and woven into fabric at our Mill in Donegal Town. The tweed is washed in the peaty waters of the River Eske resulting in a beautifully soft finish.

This season sees three new styles in Irish Wool.

The Irish Wool Jessica is a classic swing coat in a bold, oversized charcoal, red and white check, the perfect style for winter race meets or days outdoors. 

The Irish Wool Milly is an unlined, unstructured blazer style jacket in a charcoal and red houndstooth Donegal Tweed. This easy to wear piece will quickly become your new go-to jacket.

The first men’s piece to launch in the Magee 1866 X Irish Wool Collection is the Erne. A bestselling style, this short, contemporary Donegal Tweed overcoat is woven in a rich red, green, grey and navy check and is perfect for layering over suits and jackets. Coming soon…

Shop Magee 1866 X Irish Wool

Introducing the Magee 1866 Autumn/Winter 2021 Collection – ‘Home’

The inspiration behind the Magee 1866 Autumn/Winter 2021 collection is ‘Home’ – home being Co. Donegal where we have been designing, weaving and tailoring luxurious fabrics for five generations. 

Design Director, and 5th generation family member, Charlotte Temple reflects.  

“Working on this collection in 2020, in the depths of a global pandemic, has made us appreciate where we live even more than ever. The various lockdowns, in a way, forced a new familiarity with our immediate surroundings and offered a new opportunity to observe and engage with the landscape. Details one would gloss over in the hustle and bustle of regular life came into sharp focus, the bright red autumn berry peeping through the hedgerows, the changing colour of bracken on the hills – summer greens to a burnt rust, the reflection of the sun on the sea in the early morning light.” 

“These are the same landscapes that have inspired our tweeds for decades. This collection embraces our own natural fibre fabrics, designed and woven at our mill in Donegal Town. We have delved into our archives and reinvigorated the classics. Herringbones – an age-old pattern inspired by fish bones and Salt & Pepper, a simple yet intricate pattern rich with colourful flecks – the true Donegal Tweed.” 

Classic patterns sit beside bold and oversized checks in this collection with the colour pallet inspired by the sea and land. Sea blues, mossy greens, earthy oats, peaty browns are accented by the colours of local flora like gorse, fuchsia, blackberry, moss and montbretia that were historically used to create the colourful speckles synonymous with Donegal Tweeds. 

The Men’s outerwear stands out as an exclusive selection of Donegal Tweed overcoats, classic wool city coats and quilted jackets, one of the highlights being the new Brosna coat, an oversized tweed belted overcoat in a statement plaid check. In a continuation of the commitment to developing Irish wool for use in their textiles – with wool sourced from Irish sheep and spun and woven in Donegal –  the latest addition to the Magee 1866 X Irish Wool collection is the Irish Wool Erne, a short, contemporary Donegal Tweed overcoat in a rich red, green, grey and navy check. 

   

A new addition to the range of knitwear is a luxurious cotton cashmere blend in four styles and four timeless colours. Lightweight and soft, these pieces pair beautifully with one of the Donegal Tweed jackets or Gilets in the collection. The Pettigo ribbed crew neck, a two-tone contemporary style, makes a statement.  

Casual styles like the Corlea grandfather collar shirt in the Liberty of London print “Ernest’s Adventure” sit alongside Handwoven Donegal Tweed jackets and our signature, sophisticated suits with a focus on fit and comfort. 

 

Two new styles join the women’s outerwear collection- “The Josie” is a contemporary short Donegal Tweed coat in a warm red herringbone, a bright and easy to wear number for your winter wardrobe.  

In a continuation of the commitment to developing Irish wool for use in our textiles – with wool sourced from Irish sheep and spun and woven in Donegal –  the second new style is the “Irish Wool Jessica”, a classic swing coat in a timeless red plaid, the perfect style for winter race meets or days outdoors. Classic styles like the Emma, Linsfort and Grace, a long, hacking style coat, return in new tweeds, designed and woven in Donegal. 

This season, preppy short tweed jackets and printed shirts are complemented by a beautiful knitwear collection featuring luxurious cashmere blends and chunky Donegal handknits. Cashmere/merino knits, made in Scotland, offer cloud-like softness in three different styles – crewneck, funnel neck and a casual Fair Isle. Light enough to style under a Donegal Tweed Jacket, these luxurious, versatile pieces are designed to seamlessly integrate into your wardrobe and keep you cozy on long country walks. 

Shop in store or online from August.

Irish sheep are synonymous with our landscape, but are not known for their soft wool. At Magee 1866 we are part of a wider movement to develop Irish Wool for use in fine textiles and have been working closely with our yarn supplier, Donegal Yarns, on an exciting journey to introduce Irish Wool into our collections. 

This all began in 2016 with Patrick Temple, CEO of Magee Weaving, having a conversation with Chris Weiner of Donegal Yarns. It was the 150th anniversary of the company, and Patrick had been reviewing the extensive weaving archives and noted that in the past, Irish wool had a strong presence in our collections.  

With that, the idea was born to work together to encourage Irish farmers to breed sheep for their wool.  

Wool as a natural fibre has been used in textiles for centuries. Magee was founded on handwoven tweed in the 1800’s. This hardwearing, coarse fabric was handwoven across Donegal by part-time fishermen and farmers as the perfect fabric for dissipating the damp and cold weather, so often found in North-west Ireland, a far cry from the luxurious cloths being produced today.  

Our ethos as a company has always been slow fashion and to use natural fibres, with the global drive towards a more sustainable future this has never been more relevant. Wool encompasses this aim perfectly – it is natural, biodegradable, recyclable and renewable. 

Due to our climate, wool from Irish sheep traditionally has a rougher handle (the fibres are shorter) than their southern hemisphere counterparts and is more often used in carpeting than in clothing, but unfortunately the demand in recent years for this product has been steadily declining.  

In Ireland sheep are bred for their milk and meat. There are over 2.5 million sheep here and their wool is currently classified as ‘waste’ with little to no value. Over the last year spinners, weavers and designers are looking to new ways to use this natural product and re-classify its use in order to give it value and properly develop the end use.  

Today, we are working closely with farmers and Donegal Yarns to source finer wool from Irish sheep to re-ignite positivity around this fantastic and ‘local’ raw material. The wool is sourced from across Ireland and spun in Kilcar, ready to be designed and woven into luxurious fabrics at our mill in Donegal Town. 

For Spring Summer 2021 the Emma Coat is our first piece to showcase Irish Wool. This contemporary, oversized coat with patch pockets is available in two soft, misty colours. Our design team have drawn inspiration from our natural surroundings in Donegal for this unique fabric – blue-grey skies, the sea, rocks and lichen. Launching in Spring (more associated with lighter-weight fabrics) we wanted to create colours and a piece that would work all year round in a wool – a soft grey & cream and blue & grey.  

We have been weaving for 5 generations, like us, Irish Wool is not here today and gone tomorrow. We are in this for the long haul, and look forward to making Irish Wool a part of our future across our collections.  

Shop Magee 1866 X Irish Wool.

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