The brainchild of Triona Lillis and Aoibheann McNamara, the Tweed project, which operates from an atelier in Galway, creates handmade, one-off pieces which combine beautiful Irish fabrics with a modern sensibility.
The pair met in ‘mid-life’: Aoibheann had a background in restaurants while Triona was a theatre and costume designer who has been making clothes for the past 20 years.
“It was frustrating, we wanted to celebrate these gorgeous indigenous fabrics but in a contemporary way,” explains Aoibheann. “No one was doing that with tweed and linen. We have always been drawn to a utility aesthetic which is inspired by Japanese workwear, except we wanted it to be intrinsically Irish but with global attitudes.”
Their gamble paid off. The duo have even come to the attention of Hermès when they were asked by the event company Lens and Larder to create exclusive picnic blankets for a Hermès autumn picnic held at the picturesque Ballyfinn castle.
“Our fabrics have a very strong root in nature: you can literally see that the linen and tweed is part of the land,” says Triona. “The colours or flecks in the tweed are the colours of nature and reflect what is available such as gorse or blackberry. It is a very natural, organic process and is very much part of the ‘slow fashion’ movement.”
Nothing is mass produced and the pair have eliminated the middle man by working direct with suppliers, weavers such as Molloy & Sons as well as retailers. It can take approximately 6-8 weeks to make 38 blankets. Not that this pair will ever be resting on their laurels; next on the agenda are tweed tracksuit bottoms, developing a 100% linen indigo dye dress dress which resembles denim, and venturing further afield for new colours.
“Our fabrics have a very strong root in nature: you can literally see that the linen and tweed is part of the land.”