We Are Islanders
An art project and contemporary fashion house based in Dublin, Ireland, We Are Islanders designs and creates contemporary womenswear fashion and lifestyle products utilising luxury fabrics from Ireland and around the world
What made you want to become a fashion designer?
Realising that style is a truly independent and powerful way of expressing yourself, your aesthetic and is also a reaction to the time you are living in.
We Are Islanders are said to fuse fashion and art together as one. What do you find most difficult about fusing the two creative mediums together?
The craft of printing has allowed us fuse art and fashion. Through the use of free-hand painting techniques we produce fabric lengths in limited edition runs that are completely unique – inspired by the hand rather than a computer programme or digital machine. The main difficulty is positioning this model of rare one of pieces in the current fashion system.
How do you create the themes for your collections?
The themes develop from the research process which starts with stories or narratives collected from cultural references, art work and galleries, museums and books.
What is the biggest inspiration behind We Are Islanders?
We’ve always believed that a fashion house can be a project bigger than the clothing it produces and communicate beyond just style and aesthetic. Clothing is the fabric of the day to day and a powerful tool for communicating stories – this has always been the inspiration.
How important is the process of creating your collections using both locally and ethically sourced fabrics and labour work?
It is very important; we believe the backbone of a sustainable business model includes a commitment to better practice. For us that means supporting local production and understanding the supply chain of all materials we use.
What has been your favourite collection to date and why?
S/S 16 because nearly all the pieces produced are one off and hand painted. This took hours in the print studio and is a very physical process but watching 18 mounts of white silk become an array of handmade and coloured marks over a day is hugely rewarding.
What would you say separates We Are Islanders from other successful brands in the Irish fashion scene?
A merging of heritage and craft with new technologies and innovative fabric use.
What advice would you give to someone who would like to pursue a career in fashion design?
Manage your expectations so that every challenge can be turned into opportunities.
What is ahead for We Are Islanders in the future?
We are just home from Paris, so we are looking to expand our stockists and entering new markets with A/W 16, we are also looking for new collaborations and new adventures.
Words – Cornelia O’Riordan
Image – Tarmo Tulit
Photographer – Tarmo Tulit
Clothing – We Are Islanders
Stylist – Michelle Costello
Make Up Artist – Annette Smyth
Hair – Rachel Flannagan
Assistants – Katie O’Brien & Cornelia O’Riordan
Models – Shauna Lindsay & Yesunia Appiakorang