Irish creatives show off colourful creations at record-breaking craft event
Competition in the craft sector is tough and Brexit is throwing a lengthening shadow of uncertainty, but Ireland's creatives put on an impressive show yesterday for foreign buyers in search of something new and wow.
The middle weekend in January is always a trade fair battleground with Maison & Objet wooing from Paris and the Scots holding their first gift fair of the year. However, there was good news for Showcase, Ireland's annual creative expo which opened at the RDS yesterday, with buyers from 26 countries.
Now in its 43rd year, the show has become an important trade fair here and this year it welcomes 2,580 retailers from Ireland, the UK, US, Europe and the Far East. Last year, buyers placed sales orders of €23.9m over the four days - an increase of 12.7pc on the previous year, equating to annual revenues of €152.5m for exhibitors.
Karen Hennessy, chief executive of the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland, which organises the event, is optimistic that sales will increase this year. Over 400 designers, manufacturers and craftspeople are pitching for orders and there was an optimistic whiff in the air yesterday with 60 companies exhibiting at the event for the first time.
The opening day saw the première of 'Fí', a fashion film containing the work of a number of established and emerging fashion and accessories designers. They included Katie Hanlan, a textiles and knitwear design consultant who formerly worked with John Rocha and who has a great gift at manipulating yarns into colourful, textural pieces (above, left).
Meanwhile, Richard Malone collaborated with Emblem Weavers, from his native Co Wexford, on a striking orange suit (pictured above).