Bernard Brogan on his fashion career: 'A lot of my clothes are influenced by Keira - I have a really strong advocate beside me'
It can be jarring to describe someone as a "legend" in their field when they're only 34, but Bernard Brogan, might be the exception to the rule.
After more than 10 years as one of Dublin's top gaelic footballers, he's earned this status and has the four All Star medals and five All-Irelands to prove it. But at the core of Brogan's successful branding is a natural aptitude for business - he's a modern day renaissance man whose CV features Legacy Consultants, a sports consultancy agency, Pep Talk, which focuses on corporate workplace wellbeing, as well as co-owning the Pillo Hotel in Co Meath; he is the director of no less than 10 businesses -not to mention his eponymous clothing line with Littlewoods Ireland.
When we spoke on the phone last week, he expressed his excitement at becoming a first-time father with wife of one year, Keira Doyle, a PR executive. The couple chose not to announce her pregnancy until she was in her third trimester and he has nothing but praise for his wife, and her unwavering support beside him both personally and professionally.
"I’m really, really excited starting a family. I got married at Christmas a year ago and I'm in a new stage of life. Sport has been such an important part of my life for a long time, it's given me a new perspective. It's a really nice time for us," he told Independent.ie Style.
It's clear Bernard's adoration for his wife has only grown with time and he credits her influence with helping him nail his signature style and making his debut clothing line last year a success.
"Like any fashionable man, it's a good woman's eye behind it," he says.
"A lot of my clothes are influenced by Keira's eye - she gives me very honest feedback! She likes to push the boat out and she's always looking for cool, new ideas. She's definitely ahead of the curve in terms of what's coming next. She trained my eye into figuring out what I like and what looks well," he says.
"I have a really strong advocate beside me, I run a lot of it by her, I really trust her."
Bernard is unashamedly ambitious and similar to Tommy Bowe's XV Kings clothing collection and Paul Galvin's range with Dunnes Stores, is entering a unique market for fashionable sportsmen who are planning their follow-up careers with precision.
In comparison to last year's arguably safer presentation, which consisted largely of wardrobe staples like relaxed denim and activewear, he says he "pushed the boat out" this time around with a newfound confidence: the 50-piece range features skinny suits, skinny joggers and printed shirts galore.
"It has a nice, summery feel and it will definitely get people talking," he expalins.
"With the first one, I went safe with it, I actually thought I'd get a lot of abuse in the dressing room because it's all these macho men, but all men's mindsets are changing towards fashion and grooming. They are more welcome to it.
"I expected more abuse than I got. It looked really well and this time, I pushed the boat out a bit and incorporated some new age festival looks and some conversation starters."
After praise for last year's collection, he is optimistic for similarly positive feedback now, saying: "Once you're happy it, you can stand over it."
As the Bernard Brogan brand continues to grow, so has his drive and he hopes to become more hands-on with the design process over time.
"It's still early days with Littlewoods Ireland, but it's something I'm really passionate about. It's one that can transcend my sporting career. I'm a spokesperson in essence, but a business person as well. There are few things I'm passionate about and fashion is one of them," he says.
"In the future, I hope to get more involved and potentially design and conceptualise from the early stages - that's an ambition of mine - if they are open to it.
"If people react well to it, I'm hoping I can start picking some designs, that's a way you can really get your personality across. I'd love get my teeth into design. I know what I like and I know what I feel good in. The V by Very team are excellent at what they do, I'd never question their skills, and I'm not massively artistic but I always think, 'What would I be comfortable in?' and I know there are a lot of like minded people out there."
You can shop the collection, here: https://www.littlewoodsireland.ie/men/v-by-very/e/b/1977,4294878032.end?tab=2