Theatrical Society: 31 Chapel Lane

Photo of Theatrical Society: 31 Chapel Lane

31 Chapel Lane is a multidisciplinary design house and garment manufacturing company founded by Damien and Joi Hannigan and headquartered in the Georgian centre of Limerick City on Ireland’s west coast.

The name of the brand derives from a location in Co. Cavan near co-founder and architect Damien's childhood home - a historically significant town in the development of the Irish linen industry during the 17th and 18th Centuries.

31 Chapel Lane celebrates the virtues of structure, materiality and stability and their work draws inspiration from a sense of the past and also from “traditions and practices that have been refined over time by the disciplines of tailoring and construction”.

The brand’s approach is one of modern luxury - professional, socially and environmentally sustainable and considerate. The contemporary Irish fashion items that they make are designed and manufactured to last many years and to be enjoyed for a lifetime. Each piece is thoughtfully designed and manufactured in-house from the finest Irish linen and Donegal tweed fabrics.

Photo of Theatrical Society: 31 Chapel Lane

How would you describe the aesthetic of 31 Chapel Lane?

Restrained, rational and constructed.

Photo of Theatrical Society: 31 Chapel Lane

What was your intention when you established your brand less than a year ago?

To manufacture in Ireland, and, perhaps more importantly, to manufacture in-house.

Photo of Theatrical Society: 31 Chapel Lane

What is the outcome of the collaborative relationship with the architectural practice Damien Hannigan Architects?

An understanding that all design decisions must happen in a context.

Photo of Theatrical Society: 31 Chapel Lane

Are all your garments made in Ireland? How important is sustainability to you and your brand and why is it important to you to use local Irish fabrics in your designs?

We make every piece in-house in Ireland. Designing is a necessary part of what we do but really we are in the business of making clothes and we want to make the best clothes possible. The way that works best for us is to make them in-house.

To quote John Ruskin: “We are always in these days endeavouring to separate intellect and manual labour; we want one man to be always thinking, and another to be always working, and we call one a gentleman, and the other an operative; whereas the workman ought often to be thinking, and the thinker often to be working, and both should be gentlemen in the best sense.”

Sustainability is essential to all parts of what we do. We’re committed to this for the long term so being unsustainable is not an option.

Photo of Theatrical Society: 31 Chapel Lane

Do you follow fashion trends and seasonal collection drops?

We can’t afford to. Both are good examples of an unsustainable practice.

Photo of Theatrical Society: 31 Chapel Lane

How do you approach the design process? Does it start with the fabrics, a silhouette or a character in mind? How do you begin?

The design process, or creativity in general, comes down to the management of doubt and decisions. The doubt existing in that period when no tangible thing exists and the objective is to create a set of rules. Once these rules exist they inform the decisions which follow. Working with Irish fabric only means that we have some preexisting rules so the page is never truly blank. So yes - we would say it begins with the fabric always.

Photo of Theatrical Society: 31 Chapel Lane

Tell us about your current womenswear collection?

Theatrical Society is a nod to the transformative qualities of clothing and the tiny dramas it can create against the backdrop of a village, town or city.

Photo of Theatrical Society: 31 Chapel Lane

Is the robustness or longevity of your garments as much of a concern as their aesthetic? And if so, why?

We think robustness is as relevant to the aesthetic of the clothing as to its construction. Certain things are unquestionable. The collar, the cuff, the button hole. There are accepted ways in which these elements come together and we refer to these as robust details. Their practical construction determines the appearance of the final product.

Browse a carefully curated selection of 31 Chapel Lane collection or all contemporary Irish clothing on the Design Ireland site.

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