Fashion-forward A-Wear takes a look back
A leading clothing chain is celebrating 25 years in business, with many of the original styles from the first store back in fashion a quarter of a century later.
The power of the dress is as big in 2010 as it was back in 1985 and soft tailoring is equally as popular with the modern client, A-Wear chief Annmarie Flood said yesterday. Leopardskin, accessories and the mac are as relevant now as they were a quarter of a century ago, as our photographs from the A-Wear collections of the time show.
A-Wear first opened as Gaywear, part of the Brown Thomas trading family but was sold off for €70m three years ago to a management buyout team backed by UK private equity firm Alchemy Partners.
Now in its birthday year, A-Wear is also celebrating the opening of its 40th store in Kilkenny, which launched yesterday.
Over the past quarter century, the company gave a platform to many leading Irish designers such as John Rocha and Richard Lewis, who developed affordable 'diffusion' ranges -- less expensive than their exclusive designer brands.
Many of Ireland's top models like Tara Chetty and Carmel Mannion started out as college students posing for the Irish chain before going on to develop international modelling careers on the catwalks of Europe.
Among the models taking part yesterday was Amber Rowan, the teenage schoolgirl model from Clontarf who was runner-up in RTE's 'Model Agent' programme.
A-Wear's 'Showtime' Christmas party dress collection took centre stage at the birthday photocall yesterday; and with nostalgia in the air, the collection delves back into an era of decadence with lots of Gatsby fringing and sequins.
"This is one birthday that we didn't want to go unnoticed, " said Ms Flood, a former nurse turned fashion buyer who now heads up the company.
"A-Wear started life with one standalone store so we've come a long way since then. We're very proud of our heritage and the fact that we've been in Ireland for 25 years.
"2010 has been a year of positives for us, we've just launched a new shoe collection; our 40th store -- and these are all things worth celebrating."
Asked about trading patterns, Ms Flood said :"Business is as good as it can be and a lot will depend on the Budget."
The company is planning a 25th birthday party on November 10, where Dublin-born MTV presenter, Laura Whitmore will DJ at her very first Irish gig on the night.