Inspired by the past, living in the present, Irish urban design firm Gonne Wilde offers limited editions of compelling Made in Ireland products – everything from from silk covered notebooks to womens knitwear to linen table top items. Recently, owner and designer Ruth MacGowan spoke with Celtic Life International.
What is your own background/ethnic heritage?
I’m originally from Dublin, Ireland where I was brought up, before travelling to the Uk at 17 to attend a BA Fashion Marketing Degree course There was no hanging around, straight into college, as I always wanted to be in ‘fashion’
How long have you been with the company, and what is your position there?
I have founded the company last year, dreamt up the name and concept. My main task is that of Creative Director. Prior to this I gained my experience designing within established well renowned companies such as Ralph Lauren in New York, Hackett in London and Faconnable in Nice.
What are the challenges of the profession?
So many challenges, knock offs of your designs that you can do nothing about, logistics and distribution. To work in fashion is a vocation, you have to love it. If I thought about the business I am pursuing, too much, I would give up now.
What are the rewards?
To have a job that is your passion. To be able to bring a picture in your head into reality is exciting. To feel you are in the right place doing the right thing at the right time – to fulfill your destiny…..
What is the company’s core mandate?
Irish design, inspired by the past , living the present ‘. We believe in surrounding ourselves with like minded progressive people to change the perception of Ireland, one jumper at a time. Gonne Wilde is all about a rose tinted view of Ireland’s past blended with a future standing alongside US, China and the UK, who are all currently wooing us. More than ever, it is cool to be Irish these days.
What are your key products?
It is the overall Head to Toe look that is Key, a fresh vision of Ireland. If you want a signature Gonne Wilde item at a keen price point, purchase our ‘Lady Lavery’ inspired t shirts. If you want a Key item that will last forever, purchase ‘The Player’ bespoke made to measure leather boots.
What is your marketplace?
Selling direct on line allows us to be more involved with our customers. We love to give style advice on how to incorporate a Gonne Wilde item into your wardrobe. Or help suggest gift ideas for a special occasion for a special person. We understand that a Gonne Wilde is an investment piece and plan to associate with independent boutiques who understand our customer ethos. We hope to increase our stockists , through presenting at this January’s Showcase at the beautiful Royal Dublin Society buildings in Dublin. This trade show comprises of over 400 Irish designers, presenting to 1000 plus International buyers, with an estimated value of €4million to the Irish fashion industry. Interesting this compares to the £25 million UK fashion Industry. I believe the Irish fashion industry has a lot of catching up to do to commercialize our talents in this area to equal our Food & drink industry exports. For me, Gonne Wilde has ambitions to be a brand which has potential on an international as well as domestic platform.
How do you differ from your competition?
We want to collaborate with our ‘competition’ rather than compete against it. Ireland is a small country with a few designers, it is better for us all to unite, agree strengths and weaknesses and build together an international presence.
What are your thoughts on the current state of the Irish economy?
We have been through the hardest part and things are already getting better.
Are we doing enough to preserve & promote Celtic culture generally?
We do have an Irish TV and radio channels which are excellent. I find and I could be wrong, that the younger generation is more open to looking at our culture in a new way, such as mixing slang with Gaeilge, our home language. Some of the older generations can have negative preconceptions regarding Irish imagery, such as the tri-colour flag waived during the troubles. Whereas now, I see the younger Irish girls painting their nails alternate white, green and red. I find this re invention of Irish imagery very refreshing and liberating.
What can we be doing better?
There is a drive to export which is great. However we need to approach the newer markets rather than looking to the same ‘Irish interest’ markets.
What’s next on the company agenda?
We are looking to align with larger Irish multi nationals to promote ‘Irish fashion: Gonne Wilde’ internationally.