Saturday, 1 September 2012

Project 51 Bad Girl T-Shirt

Last Winter I attended a great talk by Ruth Griffin titled “The Lost Fashion History of South William Street” which was held by Re-dress. By focusing on what was once the hub of Dublin's rag trade Ruth managed to paint a picture of not just the businesses once based on the street but of Ireland's once thriving fashion industry.

Ruth's talk focused heavily on Jack Clarke, a designer in the 1950s whose business exported internationally and once occupied two Georgian buildings on South William Street. A question was raised at the end of the talk, somebody asked if South William Street was likely to ever become a center for fashion production again. I was amused by their optimism. I guess the whole event left me feeling pretty positive about Dublin's fashion history but pretty negative about its future.

However I was pleasantly surprised the other night when I arrived at Project 51 on South William Street for the first time (which I'm a little embarrassed about as it's been there for a year). Just a few doors away from where Jack Clarke's business once stood, a collective of Irish designers have a workspace and showroom. I was there for the launch of a new t-shirt collection managed by and featuring a design from my friend Dearbhla O'Beirne.

Image by Kristina Collender
Dearbhla's design is an awesome screen-printed mugshot of a 1960s bad girl with big hair and eyeliner who, according to the t-shirt which I'm trying to read upside-down while I'm wearing it, was arrested for disorderly conduct. The t-shirts are ethically made from organic, fair trade cotton.

Potential customers should be aware that Project 51 is a luxury boutique and adjust their expectations accordingly. High-street shopping gives us warped ideas about the value of an item of clothing. I guess what I'm trying to say is don't expect that a limited edition, ethically manufactured, designer piece is going to be the same price as a mass-produced garment from the high-street.

It's really encouraging to see a collaboration like Project 51 emerge on South William Street and I wish the designers every success.

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