Monday 16 September 2019

The List: Ireland's 30 best independent boutiques

The top thirty independent boutiques in Ireland have been identified. Photo: Getty Images.
The top thirty independent boutiques in Ireland have been identified. Photo: Getty Images.
Emporium Kalu
Cari's Closet
Brocade and Lime
Gallery 9
Folkster, Kilkenny. Photo: Pól Ó Conghaile
Moda, Mallow

Claire O'Mahony

From the best of Irish design to the most covetable high-end labels, these stores have it all.

1. Moda, Mallow

Moda, Mallow

Where: 143 Bank Place, Mallow, Co Cork.

What: Former fashion design student Aoife Myler-Herlihy took over this small and perfectly formed boutique in 2011 and travels the world seeking out innovative designs each season. There's a huge emphasis on personalised customer care here, both in terms of getting to know a customer and in working towards achieving a certain look. The store stocks a pleasing range of Irish and international labels such as Maison Scotch, French Connection, Selected Femme and Avoca and now carries babywear as well.

Best for: Finding your own signature style.

Contact: (022) 42737;

2. Costume

Where: 10-12 Castle Market, Dublin 2.

What: As frequented by many of Dublin's best-dressed crew, luxury retail doesn't get much better than Costume on Dublin's Castle Market. Founded by the Tucker sisters, Tracy, Leigh and Anne and their mother Billie, it's become one of the city's fashion institutions with its skilful edit of high-end labels such as Isabel Marant, Roland Mouret, Cacharel, Thakoon Addition and Antonio Berardi. It's all very tempting and beautiful, so enter at your peril.

Best for: High-end labels for effortless chic

Contact: (01) 679 4188;

3. Om Diva

Where: 27 Drury Street, Dublin 1.

What: Three floors of eclectic and interesting fashion can be found at Om Diva, situated in Dublin's creative quarter. Mixing up contemporary, vintage and cutting edge Irish design - the floors are divided accordingly - this is a bright and inviting store that is very difficult to leave without picking up something, especially from the eye-catching costume jewellery selection. Owner Ruth Ní Loinsigh handpicks many of the store's offerings on her visits to Asia, and Irish designers stocked in the Atelier 27 area to note include knitwear queen Heather Finn and delicate costume jewellery range Aliquo.

Best for: Interesting Irish labels and easy-to-wear colourful pieces.

Contact: (01) 679 1211;

4. Emporium Kalu

Emporium Kalu

Where: 16 South Main St, Naas, Co Kildare.

What: For almost 20 years, Kalu's owners/managers, Kate O'Dwyer and Louise Flanagan, have been catering for discerning dressers who value excellent design. It boasts a broad spectrum of styles, from boho right the way through to classic, and the gorgeous environs combined with the super helpful staff makes shopping here a real joy. Labels to lust after include Halston Heritage, Vivienne Westwood Anglomania and Umit Kutluk, as well as footwear from Castana and Emma Hope, while jewellery lines stocked include Melissa Curry as well as Feather & Stone.

Best for: Crowd-pleasing (provided that crowd is super chic).

Contact: (045) 896 222;

5. Samui


Where: 17 Drawbridge Street, Cork.

What: A destination store in the middle of Cork city, near to shopping hotspot Opera Lane, Samui favours directional labels from both home and abroad - think Irish rising star Danielle Romeril, Alexander Wang, J Brand, MSGM and Peter Pilotto. The boutique's owner Clodagh Shoren has over 28 years' experience in the fashion industry and many of the brands stocked are not found anywhere else in the country. New to Samui this season is the dramatic but functional Belgian footwear label, VF Vandervorst, as well as Warm-Me, an Austrian label famed for its beanie hats, which are made from 100pc cashmere with a focus this season on camouflage prints and Swarovski crystals.

Best for: Getting a wealth of expertise to help inform your own fashion choices.

Contact: (021) 427 8080;

6. Olivia Danielle

Where: 19 Church St, Athlone, Co. Westmeath.

What: A loyal fan base travels from all over Ireland to the midlands for this boutique's really interesting stable of labels. Ones to look out for include Nissa, which boxes above its price bracket with versatile looks that aren't one day wonders. They excel at finding solutions for mothers-of-the-bride and wedding guests of all ages. Labels include Paule Ka, Sonia Pena and Heidi Higgins. You can explore three floors of fashion with solutions for the upcoming season of Confirmations and First Communions. Strong on head-to-toe dressing, Olivia Danielle has one one entire floor dedicated to shoes from Fitzpatricks of Grafton Street. It also has a strong ethos of supporting Irish designers and has appealing accessories from Suzie Mahony hats, Susannagh Grogan and Ciara Silke scarves and Pat Whyte jewellery.

Best for: Occasion wear that will have people coming up and asking you where you got your outfit.

Contact: (090) 647 2707;

7. Ruby Rouge

Where: The Dollshouse, Esmonde Street, Gorey, Co Wexford.

What: This very popular Gorey boutique, the brainchild of Niamh Byrne, puts a lot of fun into shopping - the shop is located in the Dollshouse and the staff are affectionately known as the Dolls after a regular customer's nickname stuck. It's got plenty of celeb endorsement too, with Laura Whitmore, Brendan Courtney and TV3's Aisling O'Loughlin all fans of the store. For more dressy wear they stock Fee G, Caroline Kilkenny, Forever Unique, Virgo's Lounge and Matilde Cano, while Hoss, Almost Famous and Darling are some of the slightly more casual labels stocked.

Best for: Feelgood and fun fashion.

Contact: (053) 948 4722;

8. Khan

Where: 15 Rock Hill, Main Street, Blackrock, Co Dublin.

What: Since school-going days, Deryn Mackay always wanted to own a boutique and she realised that dream in 1994, with the opening of Khan on Blackrock's Main Street. From the outset, Mackay wanted to stock the best of Irish and international designers, an ambition she's maintained, and brands available include Roisin Linnane, Rene Lazard, Pierre Balmain and Paul Smith. The store is strong on consultations too, whether that's special event styling or shopping cleanses. Khan sales are always worth checking out for some keen bargains.

Best for: High-end solutions to any fashion conundrums.

Contact: (01) 278-1646;

9. Divine

Where: Unit 3, Manor Mills Shopping Centre, Maynooth, Co Kildare.

What: With an emphasis on elegance and affordability - the ethos since 2005 when owner Mary Greene opened her Maynooth store - Divine has been making dressed-up look effortless and making casual cool and chic. There's a diverse range available including day, formal, evening and maternity wear and labels stocked include Traffic People, Diva, Almost Famous, Dr Denim and Chloe sunglasses. Divine has a speedy alteration service and the store also has a make-up applications and nail bar so that your emergence from the boutique as a goddess is assured.

Best for: An instant wardrobe glam update.

Contact: (01) 629 2550;

10. Don Racine

Where: Castle Street, Castlebar, Co Mayo.

What: This family-run boutique in Castlebar, the brainchild of Margaret Parsons, has been in business now for over 30 years and, with over three floors of fashion, it stocks a wide range from casual to occasionwear and boasts a wide customer base. Over 40 brands are stocked here, including Joseph Ribkoff, Tia, Kristin Krog, Robella, Rant & Rave and Diesel, and Don Racine prides itself on its personal service as well as the in-store alteration service, which is free of charge.

Best for: A personalised service for all styles and all women.

Contact: (094) 902-2115;

11. Place

Where: 5 John Street, Gorey, Wexford.

What: Style over fashion is the principle behind Place in Gorey, where the collections are edgy and wearable. Juliana Walters, who is behind the venture, has a background in fashion design, styling and contemporary art and previously worked as a senior fashion stylist in famous London department store Selfridges. She chooses pieces for the shop for their uniqueness and quality, stocking both Irish and international brands. The eclectic selection here caters for everything from casual to workwear as well as more formal occasions.

Best for: Interesting clothes for women who like to be individual.

Contact: (053) 948 1774;

12. Brocade and Lime

Brocade and Lime

Where: 4 Cornmarket Street, Cork.

What: Elle magazine dubbed vintage store Brocade and Lime one of the best independent boutiques in Ireland and the UK, right after it opened in 2012. Proprietor Emma Ahern stocks modern designers who reference the past, such as the '40s-influenced label Stop Staring, and a selective range of actual vintage pieces - the dresses are all enhanced with faux vintage corsets, petticoats and hosiery and you can complement them with a matching hat and lipstick. Brocade and Lime also encompasses a retro beauty parlour, in which to channel your favourite vintage icon. The boutique itself, set in an 1850s Victorian townhouse with '60s-style wallpaper and an art deco theatre desk from France, is a suitable setting for the glamorous wares here.

Best for: Lovers of the retro-chic look.

Contact: (021) 427 8882;

13. Havana

Where: 2 Anglesea House, Donnybrook, Dublin 4.

What: Exclusivity and strong contemporary design are the hallmarks of Havana Boutique, which Nicky Creedon opened 21 years ago. What you'll buy here are investment pieces, with labels to choose from including John Rocha, Simone Rocha, Junya Watanabe, Ann Demeulmeester, Rick Owens and Azzedine Alaia. New to Havana last season were Ukrainian label Paskal, which combines clear lines, delicate silhouettes and bright colours. Also worth checking out here are the ankleboots from Italian shoe label Marsèll.

Best for: Exclusive fashion.

Contact: (01) 260 2707;

14. The Wardrobe

Where: 37 Gladstone St, Clonmel, Co Tipperary.

What: The Wardrobe might have opened in the middle of the boom in 2005, but the boutique's owner and creator Anne Mordaunt always stayed focussed on individuality, as opposed to turnover. She stays true to that vision today, which is presumably why the shop has reached its 11th year. Anne and her team want customers to look and feel great and will therefore have no hesitations telling you if something doesn't suit you. Brands stocked include Darling, Millie Macintosh, Lavish Alice and Tempest.

Best for: An honest approach to help you find what suits you.

Contact: (052) 612 6922;

15. Macbees

Where: 26 New Street, Killarney, Co Kerry.

What: This contemporary, luxury boutique has been fusing innovative brands with classic Irish and international labels since 1984. Conscious that not all women are created equally, at least in terms of size, they stock sizes from 8-20 in a wide range of brands. Labels stocked include Tara Jarmon, Paula Ka, Joseph Ribkoff and Basler and MacBees has also been a long time champion of Irish designers, with Aideen Bodkin, Heidi Higgins, Lennon Courtney, Fee G and MoMuse all available here. It's also a popular bridal destination, housing a dedicated wedding boutique within the store.

Best for: Stylish garb to suit all lifestyles.

Contact: (064) 663 3622;

16. Pia

Where: 6-8 Middle Street, Galway.

What: Voted by RSVP magazine readers this year as Galway's best boutique, PIA's owner and in-store stylist Denise Manning originally opened her premises in Loughrea in 2006 before relocating to Galway City because of the growth in business. She sources her fashion, jewellery and accessories from Italy and all over Europe and if you're after something feminine and flattering, this is where to look. Notable labels include AQ/AQ, Summum and the curve-friendly Freddy WR:UP jeans collection. PIA is strong on accessories too, currently carrying some very on-trend waist-cinching Obi belts.

Best for: All-out glamour to feel great in.

Contact: (091) 539 697.

17. Redlane

Where: The Cross Tramore, Co Waterford.

What: At this Tramore store they confess to being slightly obsessed with all aspects of fashion and deliver a collection of boutique and high street brands to create a wearable wardrobe that doesn't necessitate taking out a second mortgage. Catherine Keighery first opened Redlane in 2005 and the last 10 years has seen it become a go-to shop for great party dresses, pretty heels and more casual wear - labels here include French Connection, Desigual, The Pretty Dress Company and Darling. Redlane was among the first Irish boutiques to go online in 2008 and last year it relaunched the website for an even easier online shopping experience.

Best for: A quirky and eclectic mix of high street and boutique brands.

Contact: (051) 395 395;

18. Cari's Closet

Cari's Closet

Where: 11 New Street, Malahide, Dublin.

What: For women who want to pull out all the stops for a special occasion, but who don't want to spend a fortune, Cari's Closet in Malahide is the obvious solution. Here you can hire designer dresses - labels include Self-Portrait, Jovani and Mischka Badgley but at a fraction of the usual retail price. It's not all about the renting as owner Lisa Duffy (the boutique is named for her daughter Cari) has more recently introduced more day-to-day fashion looks to buy. The shoe and boot collection here includes some great pieces.

Best for: Luxurious lends for big events.

Contact: (01) 845 7593;

19. Juju


Where: La Touche Place, Greystones, Co Wicklow

What: As well as being superbly picturesque, Greystones is also a mecca for thriving boutiques, of which JuJu is a popular one. There's a lot of focus on stylish daywear and owner Juliette Ledwidge carries some great jeans lines including James and Goldsign. There's also an emphasis on knitwear, including Sian Jacobs and Johnstons cashmere, while accessories include scarves from Susannah Grogan and jewellery from Melissa Curry. Brands new to JuJu in recent months are Italian label Mabrun, known for their duck-down filled coats, Transit, Vince and Yves Salomon accessories and coats.

Best for: Gracious, off-duty wardrobes.

Contact: (01) 201 6723;

20. Seagreen


Where: 6a Monkstown Crescent, Monkstown, Co Dublin.

What: Such is the success of the original Seagreen in Monkstown that a second sister store opened in Ranelagh in 2012. A go-to destination for fashion-forward labels and great off-duty wear, it's the only Irish stockist of several brands including Tibi, Chinti & Parker, Lionel & Lily and Rebecca Taylor. Other covetable labels available here are Bella Freud, Joseph, Paul and Joe, and Paige jeans, and it's also a great place to pick up gifts and cult beauty scents like Escentric Molecule. And while a lot of gym gear can be grim, the Bodyism range available here will inject an element of chic into your workout sessions.

Best for: Stylish attire for the way women really dress.

Contact: (01) 497 7937;

21. Isobel

Where: Main Street, Adare, Co Limerick.

What: When Catherine-Zeta Jones visited Adare Manor Hotel, she loved Isobel - which is located in a 1930s cottage on Adare's main street. It's the go-to shop for many mothers-of-the-bride and those looking for statement occasion wear because of its international collection, which includes pieces from Diane Von Furstenberg, Red Valentino, Joseph Ribkoff and Roberto Cavalli, as well as Irish designers such as Heidi Higgins and Niamh O'Neill. All the outfits are co-ordinated with headpieces by Galway milliner Suzie Mahony and Dyrberg/Kern jewellery, while staff are trained in Paris and London.

Best for: Being the best-dressed woman at whatever occasion you're gracing.

Contact: (061) 395 476;

22. Muse


Where: 92 The Quay, Waterford.

What: Since setting up shop in 2006, proprietors Clodagh Roche and Laura Gallagher say that Muse continues to evolve. It's a shop teeming with 'cool girl' labels from the boho glamour of Etoile Isabel Marant to everyone's favourite jeans label, J Brand, to the Scandi chic of By Malene Birger and cult LA T-shirt label Wildfox. Irish designers are represented by Lucy Nagle and jewellery brand Loulou Grenelle from New Zealand-born, Dublin-based designer Louise Grenelle.

Best for: On-trend labels you'll wear forever. Contact: (051) 854 448;

23. Nowhere

Where: 64-65 Aungier Street, Dublin 2.

What: The sole men's boutique entry in this list, Nowhere isn't just a store, but also a wider project about men and culture, with a podcast, A Nowhere Man; an exploration of masculinity through the eyes of academics, artists, designers and more. The store's concept is that the designer labels stocked are a new approach to the masculine aesthetic, being forward-looking, thoughtful and fun, and labels here include Marni, APC, Craig Green and Christopher Raeburn as well as exclusive footwear brands like Adidas Consortium and Eytys.

Best for: Men who want to step outside their comfort zone.

Contact: (01) 475 9519;

24. Wisteria

Where: 55 High Street, Killarney, Co Kerry.

What: Classic style at affordable prices is what this Killarney store is about, offering a range of designer and fashion styles for all ages and where the motto is 'Good quality, right price'. In business since 2013, it's a family-run affair owned by mother and daughter Yvonne and Maureen Aherne and managed by niece Shirley Mahony, all of whom have years of experience in the retail sector. The boutique prides itself on bringing something different to Killarney and brands stocked include Lila Calypso, Darcy, Traffic People, Darling, Fever, Rant & Rave and more. They also try to keep as many Irish brands in store as possible.

Best for: High impact clothes at a good price point.

Contact: 086 089 6415;

25. Gallery 9

Gallery 9

Where: 2 Poplar House, Sallins Road, Naas, Co Kildare.

What: This concept boutique, which was opened for business in 2013 by Niamh McCoy, has rapidly established a name for itself as a purveyor of edgy and interesting labels. These include Italian designer Stella Jean, La Petite Robe's flattering dress collection, Paper London, the statement pieces of Dice Kayek and the sumptuous shearling stoles of Gushlow and Cole. Gallery 9 is also the only Irish stockist of the Austrian shoe label Puro, which combine cutting edge technology with amazing design. The boutique doesn't have an online store at present but is hoping to launch that in the near future.

Best for: On-trend pieces that make a statement.

Contact: (045) 901 981;

26. Jennys

Where: Main Street, Ashbourne and Main Street, Dunshaughlin, Co Meath.

What: There's nothing like the pressure of finding the right outfit for a wedding or formal social occasion and at Jennys Boutique in Ashbourne and Dunshaughlin, they understand this. Offering sizes from 8-20 and with brands such as Marella, Basler and Marc Cain, the collections combine elegance, style and practicality. On the Dunshaughlin boutique's second floor customers have a private setting where staff can help them find an outfit suitable for them, with co-ordinating accessories, and alterations are offered as part of the service.

Best for: Complete wardrobe solutions for big events.

Contact: Ashbourne, (01) 835 0782; Dunshaughlin, (01) 824 0058;

27. Kimono


Where: Provincial House, Bishop Street, Newcastle West, Co Limerick, and Main Street, Charleville, Co Cork

What: Aimed at the fashion-conscious woman who likes to be classical but with a twist, Kimono has established itself as one of the most interesting boutiques in the south west of Ireland, since its opening in 2003. The store is an intimate place, with a French boudoir-style décor and owner Ailish Mullane is on a constant quest to find up-and-coming labels. Brands stocked include Malene Birger, Tara Jarman and Gerard Darel, and new arrivals are some lovely pieces by Hoss Intropia and Brazilian label Lucidez.

Best for: The latest trends, in an accessible way.

Contact: Limerick (069) 78820; Cork (063) 21602;

28. Les Jumelles

Where: 2-3 Church Lane, Galway.

What: Founded by twin sisters Mary McSweeney and Margaret Gallagher, Les Jumelles is a winning combination of fashion-forward brands in a luxurious setting on Church Lane, Galway. There's lots to covet here including Carven, Helmut Lang, Acne, Rick Owen and 3.2 Phillip Lim. Les Jumelles autumn/winter range featured the Paige denim collect from LA, toasty parkas from Italian label Moncler and the beautiful creations of Ciara Silke, the Galway-based designer who specialises in luxury silk and cashmere scarves.

Best for: Stylishly curated collections from high-end labels.

Contact: (091) 564 540;

29. Kabuki

Where: Unit 6, The Courtyard, Main St, Carrick on Shannon, Co Leitrim.

What: Now eight years in business, Kabuki in Carrick-on-Shannon serves the sartorial needs of the 20-something as it does the more mature customer. Louise Merrick, the owner, tries to source brands that are hard to find in Ireland, if not exclusive. For weddings, racing season, communion attire and other dressy occasions, labels include Tadashi, Teri Jon, Kay Unger, Paper London, Diva and more. The smart-casual customer, who wants something to take them from work to the school gates or dinner with friends can look to Cocoa Cashmere, Ella Luna and Marc Caurel. Kabuki also has creations from milliners Jennifer Wrynne Designs and David Ballentine.

Best for: A good mix of labels to suit a wide range of tastes.

Contact: (071) 96 6505;

30. Folkster

Folkster, Kilkenny. Photo: Pól Ó Conghaile

Where: 27 Patrick Street, Kilkenny and 9 Eustace Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2.

What: Folkster has become one of the biggest independent retail successes of recent times, thanks to the great eye of owner, stylist Blanaid Hennessy and her buying team. The boutique mixes up contemporary and vintage fashion, as well as interiors, to great effect and it's somewhere you're as likely to pick up the perfect bridesmaid's dress as you would a restyled leather jacket. What was meant to be a pop-up on Dublin's Eustace Street will now be staying on for a while longer and the Kilkenny store also includes Folkster Bridal, stocking designs by Don O'Neill, and the Folkster Kilo Sale Shop where you pay by the weight and not the price tag.

Best for: Flattering occasion wear, charming boho pieces and all-round coolness.

Contact: Kilkenny (056) 770 3312; Dublin (01) 675 0917;

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