Emily Maree talks eponymous labels, Alexander McQueen, the National Tailoring Academy and style influences with designer and National Tailoring Academy course director Sinead Doyle
When did you first decide you wanted to get into fashion design?
I’m a movie buff and was always fascinated with costume. This led me to think about what clothes say about a person and how we use them to portray ourselves. I was always very creative so this led to me wanting to work in fashion.
When did you move onto creating your own eponymous label?
I had worked in London for a while, then Italy to get experience and my choices came down to working for a supplier ‘designing’ catwalk ripoffs and doing very uncreative work or working somewhere creative with a great name and getting great experience to eventually lead to a good job – but not get paid for it. I didn’t want the former and couldn’t afford the latter so in 2008 I moved back to Ireland to start my own label (terrible timing!).
What institutions and designers did you study with?
I got my degree in Limerick School of Art and Design, I’m from Dublin but moving away from home was a huge part of the college experience for me. It was a fantastic place and I won a few awards in my time there which always helps! After that I worked for a now defunct denim company in Dublin and then went on to London College of Fashion for an MA in menswear.
In the meantime I interned with designers like Michelle Lowe-Holder, Siv Stoldal and Preen. My biggest regret is having the opportunity to intern at Alexander McQueen back in 2005 but I couldn’t afford more unpaid work as I had to work in retail evenings and weekends during my MA – London is not a cheap city!
How did you get involved in the faculty of the National Tailoring Academy?
I met some of the team when I was interviewed as part of the initial research project for the academy. Since I had previous lecturing and course-leading experience and industry experience, when I heard about the Course Director position, I put myself forward. Fortunately it all worked out.
How has being the course director there affected your own work?
I’ve taken a break for the moment from selling my own work but I’m using the time to do a lot of researching and experimenting. With the Irish economy being how is has been for the last few years, trying to get paid and dealing with last-minute order cancellations had taken over my life. Design and research had taken a back seat so it’s great now to take a breather, have a job I love and spend time back in the area of design I enjoy.
Who would you most love to see wearing your designs?
I love when I occasionally see women on the street or going about their daily lives wearing pieces I’ve designed. It means more to me to see someone who has gone into a shop, had a choice about what to buy and what would fit their lives, and purchased something I’ve made with their hard-earned money than to have a more well-known person wear it who has blagged it for free and probably only wearing it for that reason!
Who are your main style influences? What national/international designers do you look up to?
I love Rick Owens, Thom Browne, Raf Simons – people who play with silhouette and make you think about clothing.
Who is the Sinead Doyle woman? Who is your brand’s target market?
It’s always been about career women, the professional and someone who wants nice clothing in their daily lives, not just for weddings.
What are your thoughts on the current rise of Irish fashion designers?
It’s great, I just hope it’s sustainable. I see some Irish designers making it in London at the moment and that’s fabulous. There isn’t really a viable market in ireland outside wedding guest/mother of the bride so if you’re doing something different, you really need to go abroad.
What has been your career-defining moment so far?
It seems like there’s a new career-defining moment every year. It feels right now that the fashion show last week for the National Tailoring Academy was a big thing. My work here as Course Director is something I’m very passionate about and seeing our first group of graduates with their fabulous work and knowing our small team had pulled it off felt like a great achievement.
What does the future hold for you and the Sinead Doyle brand?
I’m very happy at the moment so I would really like to continue working in the education end of the garment industry. There’s so much more potential within the Academy and so much to do that I’ll be kept busy for a while. I plan to do a lot more research and go back into the academic side of fashion, which I really enjoyed and was good at back in college. I’d like to do a PHD part-time in the future and keep designing and making pieces too but under my terms.