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Robyn Lynch, the Dublin streetwear designer making her mark in London – The Irish Times

“I want to put Ireland on the fashion map. There are so many references to British youth culture (here) that I wanted to give Ireland a moment to shine.” So says London-based Irish designer Robyn Lynch, a rising star in menswear steadily making a name for her sporty, streetwear collections, each of which references her home country in a humorous, often ironic, original and technically accomplished way.

From Baldoyle in Dublin 13, the 30-year-old award-winning designer with a degree in printed textiles from the National College of Art and Design (NCAD) founded her brand in 2018, after graduating with an MA in menswear from the University of Westminster. Within weeks she was spotted by Fashion East and showing with their support at London Fashion Week, making her solo runway debut in January 2020 to huge acclaim. Vogue compared her work, in which she recycled Colombia deadstock in sophisticated ways, to that of the innovative Japanese designer Junya Watanabe.

Passionate about collaboration and recycling, she has worked with UK cycle brand Rapha, as well as US outdoor specialists Columbia, refashioning coats, pants and cycling tops in imaginative and vibrant ways, cutting and splicing. Her sense of colour is outstanding, a flair she attributes to her training in textiles and a semester on colour and colour theory in NCAD. “I was into dyeing, mixing colours and print; now I try to do two bright colours and two neutral and blocks of four — it helps me compartmentalise my collection and set its base,” she explains from her new London studio in Hackney, which she shares with three other Irish creatives.

As a woman designing for men, she finds menswear more relaxed and exciting, suiting her own personal style of dress. She likes telling stories through her collections. The early ones, like abstracted GAA graphics, were generated by scanning old Dublin jerseys belonging to her father, in collaboration with Synflux using technology to produce new artwork. Her Aran cabled sweaters in merino feature panels with functioning zipper pockets, finished with bias binding. The Tourism T tee-shirt was based on Irish tourism posters from the 1930s.

It’s not surprising that her fans include Irish rapper and songwriter Rejjie Snow and Grian Chatten, lead singer with post punk Dublin band Fontaines DC, though she insists that her brand is for everyone. “I love that it looks effortless on the guys and equally effortless on my little sister,” she says.

A strong work ethic inherited from her parents, who own a bakery and deli in Baldoyle, she makes everything herself with a part time assistant. So much time is taken in making each piece in the collection that images online don’t do justice to the quality of the fabrics and their finish — the merino wool, the organic cotton, the recycled ocean waste — and their execution.

In 2019 she won the international Big Design Award in Tokyo for fresh and innovative ideas. The judges were headed by the celebrated Walter Von Beirendonck, one of the Antwerp Six, now head of the Fashion Department at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp. The award came with a prize of nearly £40,000 (€47,200), which has helped her to develop her collections.

Her latest for SS23 is based around a neon smiley-face tee that her mother Susan brought back from Mallorca in 1983. Those humorous graphics have been reimagined by Lynch for a typically fresh and playful approach to a mundane item, elevating it from cheap cotton to a light jacquard knit in fine Italian yarn. Other items include the common towelling poncho, now a piece of outerwear, in two-toned bouclé, while a hoodie comes with sloped shoulders and is reversible. Colours are exuberant — brick orange, mustard yellow, charcoal brown and sand beige. And there’s footwear — new takes on the familiar Crocs, customised to match the look.

Her collections are stocked by Browns and Farfetch and the hip concept store Notre in Chicago, as well as online. Her journal on her website uploaded from her phone gives an insight into her work process “and how my brain explodes”.


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