Jennifer Rothwell is an established fashion designer and creative director of the Jennifer Rothwell fashion label, which she established in 2006. Jennifer has over 20 years experience in the international fashion industry and recently opened the JRothwell Boutique in Powerscourt Townhouse Centre, Dublin which showcases her extensive collection alongside selected work by other Irish fashion, accessory and jewellery designers. Jennifer is renowned for her attention to detail, use of luxurious fabrics, beautiful jersey range and stunning colourful prints. Her collections are 100% made in Ireland, a fact that she is extremely proud of. Jennifer was a guest judge on Norway’s Next Top Model in 2011 and is currently a mentor with the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland,
Dublin City Local Enterprise Office (LEO) and Intertrade Ireland.
Second Skin Collaborators:
North West Regional College: Basil Dalton, Mary Harrigan, Tim Jenkins, Patrick McHugh, Textile Artist, Designer: Serena O Neill, Textile Artist, Designer: Katie Hession, Textile Artist, Designer: Nicola McLaughlin, Pattern Cutter: Laura Fallon, Textile Manufacturer: Magee Weaving; Gill Mudie, National College of Art & Design: Technical Officer; Olga Tiernan, Lecturer; Andrew Campbell
“I am passionate about producing in Ireland. It was important for me to use an Irish artist and folklore mythology as the inspiration for Second Skin, Harry Clarke’s stained glass windows and illustrations combined with Irish fairy folklore mythology provided a wealth of research material to create contemporary vivid colourful digital prints.”
My design concept was inspired by the vivid and vibrant magnificent colours and artworks of Irish artist Harry Clarke stained glass windows married with Irish fairy folklore mythology. I was drawn to The Eve of St Agnes' stain glass panel's amazing use of vibrant purples, blues, orange and red colours. Inspired by the English poet John Keats the panels tell the romantic story of two lovers escaping to be together on a cold windy stormy night. 'Awake! Arise! My love, and fearless be, For o'er the southern moors I have a home for thee ...', I want to reignite the Celtic revival (also know as the Celtic twilight) of the 19th and 20th centuries in the 21st century. To celebrate Irish artists, folklore, legends and traditions through fashion in a modern and contemporary way. To introduce Clarke's amazing work to a new audience and to question the origins of the Irish fairy mythology and fairy tales.
“Knowing that the clothes you are wearing were produced by people who live in Ireland, are given a good wage, in good working conditions and were treated with dignity and respect is something we all need to value and invest in.”
Explain why you identified preferred manufacturing/ production collaborators?
My design concept was inspired by the vivid and vibrant magnificent colours and artworks of Irish Artist Harry Clarke Stain glass windows and illustrations. From my extensive research I planned to use inspired elements to create a stunning new digital print in new modern contemporary silhouettes/shapes etc. As I already currently manufacture my garments in Ireland I wanted to also design and digitally print my fabrics on the island of Ireland. I decided to search for a textile designer to collaborate with to start the design process. I ended up sourcing three textile designers to collaborate with under the theme of Harry Clarke and Irish folklore mythology, Katie Hession, Nicola McLaughlin and Serena O' Neill. I had expressed a strong desire to print in Ireland and Nicola McLaughlin who is currently a student of North West Regional College, Derry contacted the college who kindly agreed to allow me to access their printing department. Laura Fallon whom I had worked with previously collaborated with me on two patterns (a tailored woman's jacket and a capri pant). I decided to contact Magee Weaving (Donegal tweed) as I also wanted to create garments that were 100% Irish i.e. cut/sewn with the fabric being woven in Ireland also.
Provide comparative analysis of relative costs for production in a.) Ireland and b.) Internationally.
Re digital printing: It would not have been possible for me to develop and achieve the desired results abroad in regards to the digital printing element. In the UK you are looking at between €30 - €60 per metre depending on what fabric you decide to print on which is extremely expensive not taking into account shipping costs. More importantly you can end up with a print that you are not 100% happy with in relation to scale and colours achieved.
In regards to manufacturing (cut/sew) costs. All the garments were 100% made in Ireland as I have my own manufacturing unit based in my studio in Dublin where I employ a team of highly skilled seamstresses and cutters. Over the years I have carried out extensive price comparisons between producing in Ireland verses in Poland and Portugal and when you take into account minimum quantities, surcharges and shipping costs, unless you are doing huge volume, there is little or no difference between producing oversees.
Provide an analysis of the additional benefits relating to sustainable and ethical production, quality control, authenticity, country of origin, impact on target market and sales.
Benefits of sustainable and ethical production, quality control, country of origin, impact on target market and sales include:
• Better handle on quality control.
• Can overview cutting and sewing process, which can prevent costly mistakes.
• Quicker turn around on printed sample yardage.
• As manufacturing is completed within 5 miles radius thus this reduces the carbon footprint and also ticks all the boxes in regards to traceability etc.
• Being able to get the desired scale and colors needed in digital printing thus saving time and money in the long run.
• Keeping the production here in Ireland, thus helping the local economy and keeping the jobs in Ireland
• Because of the recession more consumers are asking where things are made? It more important to customers now to be manufacturing in Ireland.
• Feel good factor knowing that the clothes you are wearing were produced by people who are given a good wage, in good working conditions and were treated with dignity and respect.
• Manufacturing in Ireland is a winning formula for quick turn around for customer orders while also helping designers have more control on stock levels etc.
• The Made in Ireland campaign is at its infancy but if promoted internationally as a centre of excellence in craftsmanship and design it can have a massive effect on target markets (in particular in Asia) and international sales. It’s far more appealing to be seen buying made in Ireland products verses made in China for example. Look how successful Irish food has become a billion euro industry over the last few years.
Challenges to production in respect of skills, costs, and access to materials.
Challenges included a lack of a skilled labour force, in particular highly skilled seamstresses etc. Investment into training and manufacturing by government must be made now. To train and upskill the next generation of high quality seamstresses and cutters in order to supply the increasing demand in this area. To promote the Made in Ireland campaign and manufacturing on the island of Ireland and to help maintain and generate new employment in this sector. Materials can be sourced internationally and brought into Ireland. Buying and sourcing fabrics within the Island of Ireland needs to be encouraged and developed. Initiatives should be put in place now to encourage Irish designers to include fabrics/wool produced in Ireland in their collections etc. All the production and manufacturing were produced in Ireland, the only challenge was purchasing the fabrics needed for digital printing which had to be purchased in the UK. The woven tweed fabrics were sourced in Ireland from Magee Weaving.
In conclusion brand Ireland and the made in Ireland campaign in the fashion and design sectors has amazing potential but strategic plans need to be put in place in order for it to reach its full potential.
The skill of technical sewing, cutting and manufacturing training in Ireland needs to be reignited once again. We need to promote and support manufacturing on the Island of Ireland, to help maintain and create new employment growth in this sector. We need to spearhead the Made in Ireland campaign both nationally and internationally, resulting in the “Made in Ireland” brand being recognised worldwide as high-end quality products, which incorporate innovative design excellence. Thus creating high domestic and international consumer demand.
Official photography by Rich Gilligan, production photography by Evelyn McNamara