Monday 27 March 2017

Names you should know, now: 6 Irish guys making waves in menswear

(L to R) Adam Gaffey, Darren Feeney and Chun Soot
(L to R) Adam Gaffey, Darren Feeney and Chun Soot
Darren Feeney, Brown Thomas Group Stylist
Olen Bajarius, stylist
Brian Teeling, co-founder of Nowhere
Chun Soot, model at Distinct Model Management
Adam Gaffey, Editor at MFI Magazine. Picture: Patrick Quinn Byrne
Manny Aivo, student and model with NotAnother agency

Sophie Donaldson

Since fashion was brought to the masses, men’s and womenswear have existed in decidedly different spheres.

Where women’s abounds with commercial and creative backing, men’s has often struggled to receive the recognition and support it needs. Change however, that harbinger of shifts and turns that drives the seasonal fancies of the industry, is in the air. Perhaps driven in part by fashion’s current preoccupation with gender neutral dressing, the gap between the two grows ever closer as the potential of this untapped market is explored. Alongside perennial favourites like Burberry and McQueen, J.W. Anderson and Sibling are amongst the young labels breathing new life into menswear and forcing the fashion pack to sit up and take notice. On home soil, there’s also a new generation of fashionable young things paving the way for men in fashion whose names you best become acquainted with before the industry gets there first.

Adam Gaffey, Editor MFI Magazine


Picture: Patrick Quinn Byrne

When it comes to fashion glossies, women are undoubtedly spoilt for choice but it’s a different story altogether for the guys. With a smattering of menswear tomes and the occasional ‘menswear special’, publications dedicated to men’s fashion are few and far between. Cue MFI (Mens Fashion Ireland), a publication that differs thematically each quarter but consistently offers a choice compilation of fashion, editorial, lifestyle, art and grooming. At the helm of the magazine, Editor Adam Gaffey has curated a talented troupe of photographers, stylists and writers to create the original, compelling content and cooler-than-thou editorial work within each volume.

In late 2013 Adam launched MFI as a social media platform, producing and directing editorial and video work. The project soon blossomed into a printed publication, with Issue 1 launching in March 2014. Fast forward 24 months and issue 13 has just sold out.

Who is your favourite menswear designer?

At the moment, it’s Nasir Mazhar. I’m a big fan of street/sportswear and the AW16 show in London was amazing. Plus I have a soft spot for head wear.

Favourite retail spots in Dublin?

Nowhere on Aungier Street is my favourite shop right now. They stock Craig Green, Raf Simons, Christopher Shannon and other exclusive brands which is great to have right on our doorstep. I’ll be scouting out some new vintage stores soon too.

What do you love about the Irish fashion scene, and what change would you like to see?

I love that most of the creatives in the industry are continuing to challenge the Irish market in different ways. The menswear market in particular has a long journey to go and its potential is massive. I would like to see it get the recognition and support it deserves and for young Irish designers and entrepreneurs to receive more financial backing to create their businesses.

Darren Feeney, Brown Thomas Group Stylist


Whether he is traversing the footpaths outside London Fashion Week or styling campaign shoots for luxury powerhouse Brown Thomas, Darren Feeney continually cuts an immaculate figure on the fashion circuit. Having worked in various departments of the lauded fashion emporium, including sales in menswear, visual merchandising and now a group stylist, his insight into high fashion informs his own impeccable wardrobe choices.

With a garment collection that transcends gender to be coveted by both male and female fashion plates, he lists Acne as a seasonal staple and opts for Lanvin for statement making apparel. A self-professed creature of habit, his fall back staples nevertheless consist of Prada shoes, boxy t-shirts and short shorts. Ladies and gentlemen, do take note.

Who is your favourite menswear designer?

Jonathan Anderson is my favourite menswear designer . I love what he does at both his own label and as creative director at Loewe. I feel very comfortable in his clothes which is key. They are a very modern interpretation of the balance between masculinity & femininity. I look forward to going to his show each season in London.

Favourite item in your wardrobe?

My Loewe Fisherman Jean. I managed to get my hands on a pair from Jonathan's debut season at Loewe. They have since become a classic for the brand which they repeat each season. I love the oversize turn ups and have worn them lots either with my Loewe Meccano shoes (from the same season) or classic Adidas Stan Smith trainers and a grey knit or tee.

What do you love about the Irish fashion scene, and what change would you like to see?

I love how much young Irish talent there is at the moment, from designers to photographers and of course models. I really look forward to working on CREATE at Brown Thomas each year, a fantastic initiative which was created by our Fashion Director Shelly Corkery five years ago. It's a great platform for young designers to showcase their collections in a retail space and helps nurture their talent & success.

Chun Soot, Model


With his cut glass cheekbones, pillowy pout and superfine buzz cut, Chun Soot is a fast rising face in fashion. Looking more at home in an ID editorial than scuppering along the streets of Dublin, that’s exactly where you’ll find him when he’s not travelling abroad for work. Signed with model mecca Distinct at home, internationally he’s been scooped up by Trend in Barcelona, AMCK in London, PMA in Germany and Other Mgt in Paris.

Slick personal style and a social media following is now as important as said cut glass cheekbones for a model, and Chun has both in spades. Favouring skinny leather separates and sporting a louche single crucifix earring, he can be found scouting high street emporiums Zara and Bershka for his seasonal staples. His career was kick-started by his renowned make-up artist uncle Roy Wong who introduced him to Anne Morgan at Distinct, launching him into the international fashion scene.

What are the key trends for you this season?

I’m really loving the street wear that’s going on at the moment. As I spend a lot of my time running between castings, my working model uniform of jeans and a plain tee layered with a trench or a bomber will be my staple outfit for this season.

Who is your favourite menswear designer?

Joshua Kane , Tom Ford and Christopher Bailey at Burberry are some of the top menswear designers in my opinion.

Favourite item in your wardrobe?

My new Leather jacket from Zara that I picked up working in Madrid. I’m getting a lot of wear out of it!

Brian Teeling, co-founder Nowhere


Anyone who has ambled down the gastronome’s delight that is Camden onto Aungier Street is sure to have stalled a minute or two outside of Nowhere. A menswear boutique nestled insouciantly between chic eateries and sleek cocktails bars, the brilliantly curated stock from brands such as Marni and Christopher Raeburn beckon from behind the gleaming glass facade. Launched in 2014 by Brian Teeling and David Erixon, the store has fearlessly injected the Irish menswear scene with individualism and oomph, garnering itself a loyal client base and becoming one of the country’s foremost retail destinations for the boys.

Having cut his teeth with notable menswear retailers like Topman, The Kooples, Brown Thomas and Indigo & Cloth Brian brings with him a wealth of experience and a finely tuned personal aesthetic. Not content with just putting menswear quite literally on the map, his repertoire extends to styling, photography, creative consulting and most recently, writing for Franc and Law Magazine.

What’s your go-to label?

I have four at the moment. Matthew Miller, Our Legacy, Marni and Craig Green.

Favourite retail spots in Dublin?

Gunn's Cameras on Wexford Street, Sasha House Petite on Drury Street, Brother Hubbard on Capel Street, The Garden in The Powerscourt Centre.

What’s your favourite item in your wardrobe?

A denim jacket that I bought for myself with my first pay-packet from Topman when I was seventeen. It still fits.

Manny Aivo, Student and Model


Sartorially studious, Manny Aivo’s eye for sharp tailoring and dexterously chosen accessories are showcased both in the halls of Trinity college and across Instagram to his 12, ooo+ plus followers. Growing up in Eastern Europe where men’s fashion is decidedly more conservative, he cites the move to Ireland as instigating a foray into fashion that resonated with him as ‘a tool for self expression’.

A champion of vintage clothing, the one off pieces he comes across are deftly put together and uploaded to his Instagram that could easily pass as an apirational life style campaign. His moody mop of dark hair and fine features lend themselves perfectly to his carefully curated ensembles,  all culminating in a modelling contract with NotAnother agency that he balances alongside his studies.

What are the key trends for you this season?

When it comes to Ireland I find it’s quite difficult to keep up with certain fashion trends due to our unpredictable weather. However from seeing the SS16 collections this year I feel like bomber jackets are perfectly suited for our climate whilst allowing us to be trendy.

Favourite retail spots in Dublin?

One thing I think Dublin really has to offer in terms of fashion is an amazing selection of vintage stores. I’ve noticed vintage clothing is something people have really started getting into and I can certainly say I’m one of them.

What’s your favourite item in your wardrobe?

I recently bought this amazing, dark brown suede jacket in the vintage shop in George’s street arcade (I’d highly recommend having a look there) and I have to say I’m absolutely in love with it.

Olen Bajarias, Stylist


With a pared back personal aesthetic that is echoed in his editorial work, Olen Bajarias is one to watch in the styling stakes. Celine, Wales Bonner and Lemaire top his designer wishlist, whilst his favourite shopping circuit is both the fifteen-minute stretch of charity shops from George’s Street to Camden Street and online marketplace Ebay.

Former fashion editor for Trinity College magazine TN2, his ability to pair the unexpected and create something superb can be seen in his current project for Hunt and Gather. Solely using clothing from charity shops, this latest styling project would sit comfortably within the pages of a visionary fashion publication. Simultaneously casting away any residual taboo around second-hand garb whilst creating a brilliant editorial in its own right, the first instalment of this series of photo shoots is testament to his talent as a stylist, and an intriguing indicator of what’s next for this young talent.

What are the key trends for you this season?

Plaid, stripes, and recycled bits of old Margiela like oversized and mock-DIY clothes.

What’s your favourite item in your wardrobe?

A base layer from Life Style Sports that I wear when it's chilly outside!

What do you love about the Irish fashion scene, and what change would you like to see?

I wouldn't say that I know much about the Irish fashion scene, but my impression is that it's quite small and everyone seems to know one another -- which might be a good or bad thing. It would be interesting to see gutsy experimentation. Blurring the distinction between men and womenswear feels modern to me.

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