The town & county crossover: Dubarry's utilitarian makeover gives it a new lease of life
When Kate Middleton was recently photographed wearing a Dubarry jacket, it put the spotlight back on the Irish brand which mixes up tweed and traditional country looks with utilitarian clothing - and it does it with flair and panache, writes our fashion editor
When Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, recently wore Dubarry of Ireland's best-selling jacket, the Bracken, bosses at the Irish brand were not exactly surprised.
"Apart from the fact that it was a perfectly natural fit for her inimitable crossover town and country styling, the extended British royal family have long been customers of Dubarry," explains Michael Walsh, marketing director.
Named after a French courtesan, Dubarry had humble beginnings, starting out as a co-operative company established in 1937 to provide employment in Ballinasloe.
The native county gave them the name for their signature 'Galway' leather and suede boot which is promoted at shows by staff standing in a large bucket of water to prove their waterproof credentials.
The utilitarian aspects of the country clothing brand with its attractive outdoorsy palette has crossed a major point of difference and has helped the Irish brand attract a growing number of urban customers - it rains in the city too! The Dubarry line-up of waxed jackets, Teflon-coated tweeds and GORE-TEX-treated waterproof boots and clothes has attracted a whole new tranche of faithful customers; from the girls wearing short tweed skirts with fitted jackets and leather boots, to the hardcore hunting 'n' shooting set, many of whom buy the Irish brand at its London store located on King's Road, in the heart of fashionable Chelsea.
Fans of the Galway boot (pictured above) include three generations of royals - Queen Elizabeth, her daughter Princess Anne and Anne's daughter Zara Phillips. A special orange-laced pair of Galways were made for Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, for her work with the National Osteoporosis Society.
The Irish company has achieved household name status among its target market by selling at the Cheltenham Races, Badminton horse trials, the Royal Windsor Show and Chelsea Flower Show. In a leap across the Atlantic, it picked up Bruce Springsteen and family as clients after showing at the Hampton Classic in New York. Bruce rocked his 'Galways' onto the main stage at Glastonbury a few months later.
The current collection plays to the strengths of firmly held principles: function and fashionable appareil.