Going underground: Secret fashion in the city
If you are short of time and not prone to straying from the city's main retail thoroughfares, you'd be forgiven for thinking that all that is out there is trend-driven, generic clothing, as presented by the high-street stores.
But every city has its retail secrets, and in Dublin a network of streets behind Grafton Street holds ours: Exchequer Street, Castle Market, Drury Street and South William Street. Here's where some of the best stores are, almost hidden, nestling in basements and first-floor premises: they will revive your faith in the individuality of fashion.
Indigo & Cloth is located in the basement of 27 South William Street. A store for men and women, it has a strong style born of owner Garrett Pitcher's passion for independent fashion from New York, London and Scandinavia.
"Being in a basement suits the clothing," says Garrett. "It's a unique space, and people love to potter in it. It is the mindset of certain people, who might have travelled abroad and know that good shops can be found in indie places."
Garrett's background is fashion agencies and brand representation. He has worked with labels such as Tommy and Pepe. It was from this work that the idea for his store was born. "As an agent, I was running out of good shops to sell into. In fact, there were no shops to which I could sell the kind of the brands I was into," he explains. "I saw the opening here for the kind of shop that I liked seeing in London and New York."
Before opening Indigo & Cloth, Garrett took a year out to travel the world, developing an appreciation for, and knowledge of, world labels.
"We don't carry the brands that are in BT2, Brown Thomas or Arnotts. Most of our brands are quite young. We only buy about four pieces of a style so, generally, you are guaranteed to have an exclusive piece," Garrett says. " Womenswear is avant-garde. The menswear is not. Men want strong contemporary wear. A lot of our customers are professionals in creative industries -- they put in a hard day's work and then they like to go out from the office and look good."
Garrett has a keen eye for up-and-coming labels and he often pips Liberty of London, Dover Street Market and Barneys New York to the post in sourcing them. Labels include Fifth Avenue Shoe Repair, Dagmar, Rodebjer, cult Japanese denim brand Edwin, Lee, Folk, Our Legacy, Oliver Spencer, Universal Works, and men's footwear by Shofolk.
"We don't really know what commercial is," Garrett says. "Our more exciting pieces are the ones that sell first."