Magee 1866: A heritage brand with its eyes on the future

Magee 1866 is one of Ireland’s most recognisable brands. Deeply rooted in the landscape of Donegal and a fifth  generation family business, Magee is a brand with a rich heritage on the one hand and a firm grasp of the future in the other.  Synonymous with quality of both fabric and design, this is one Irish business with its heart in the past and its head in the future as it deftly weaves a balance between heritage and contemporary tastes.The Magee 1866 brand is probably best known for the company’s wonderful fabrics which have been manufactured in the north west of Ireland for over 150 years. There are currently four designers who specifically design custom fabrics for Magee which are then produced by the 50 skilled staff in the company’s mill. These fabrics are then used to create Magee’s own range of clothing for men and women and are also sold to high-end luxury fashion companies primarily in the United States and in Europe.

Susie Page is a Weaving Designer at Magee. “Every season our team works to bring a whole range of fresh designs to the fore. We have a rich heritage behind the mill which gives us a starting point in the design process,” explains Susie. “We then create our moodboards which take a look at current trends - particularly around colour, textures and fabrics. We love the combination of both our history and our design focus which results in our unique luxury fabrics.”

Rosy Temple is one of the fifth generation of the family responsible for Magee and has just joined the company as Head of Marketing and PR where she will divide her time between Magee’s Donegal HQ and the brand’s flagship store in Dublin. Rosy believes that it is vital that the Magee brand remain loyal to its history but that it is also contemporary in design in order to remain relevant and to thrive in such a competitive industry.  “While we pay close attention to trends, our designers are really interested in bringing something unique to the market,” says Rosy. “Our retailers do not expect us to be a high street brand - we have our own position within the market which pays a nod to current trends but which retains its own unique personality.”

Rosy’s sister Charlotte Temple is Design Director of Magee 1866 and says that the clothing design team at Magee also seeks to balance the heritage of the company with a modern take on design. “We always make sure that at the heart of what we do is our emphasis on luxury, finely-woven fabric tailored to perfection. We are of course, keen observers of current trends and we may incorporate aspects of those into our seasonal collections,” says Charlotte. “At the end of the day though, we are sure of our own path and always look to bring you that distinctive Magee look which goes beyond high street fashion cycles.’’

Rosy says that Magee’s wholesale customers expect a wide ranging collection, from jackets to knitwear. “The main ‘character’ of our collection is that we use our renowned fabrics, which then leads to strong brand awareness in the UK and Ireland.” “Magee 1866 has been in business for over 150 years, so our independent retailers know to expect finely tailored clothing made with beautiful fabrics. They trust that our lifestyle collections, which encompass tailored wear and casual wear, reach a wide customer profile who recognise the unique qualities of the Magee 1866 brand.” In the past, the Magee brand has perhaps been associated with a slightly older customer profile, yet, while Rosy says that the brand still respects and values their existing customers, they seem also to have attracted a younger customer - one seeking, perhaps, a more tailored silhouette or a more complete wardrobe of Magee clothing.  

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