Galway Fashion Trail

So yesterday I ventured into the world of fashion blogging when I was lucky enough to be invited to the inaugural Galway Fashion Trail along with a number of other Bloggers from all over Ireland. The event was organised by the team from GalwayNow Magazine and gave local shops, boutiques, designers and food establishments the chance to showcase themselves on this day long, free event in Galway city which coincided with Galway Design Week.

The aim was to promote local businesses and bring some excitement and spending back into Galway after a few rocky years. Everyone who took part and got involved in the day did so on a voluntarily basis. From Catwalk Model Agency, the models themselves, hair and makeup teams, photographers, restaurants etc. The fact that everyone gave up their time and resources and join forces to create an event like this is fantastic to see and a great example of local businesses supporting each other which is invaluable in a city like Galway.

For us Bloggers the day began at 9.30am with a special Blogger breakfast in the new Serendipity Suite in the cutest little tea shop in Galway, Cupan Tae, which was organised by the Into the West Blogger Network. After this we ventured all over Galway taking in eight fashion shows, visiting six retail showcases and all the while tweeting, snapping, Instagramming and Facebooking to our hearts content (or until our phones ran out of battery or memory cards gave out – Luckily all the retailers were more than happy to let us drop in and power up our phones) until the wrap party in the House Hotel at 6pm. With such a jam-packed day I felt like I could have been a journalist at New York fashion week but it was a brilliant experience and it was a fantastic opportunity to see what’s on offer in Galway!

As I mentioned we started the day in the newly opened (that morning in fact) Serendipity Suite in Cupan Tae which is located opposite the Spanish Arch. The room accommodates about thirty people and is available to hire for private dining events. With its intimate setting and luxurious old world interiors it would be perfect for anyone looking to organize a unique get together. We were treated to their “Before Noon Tea” which included homemade granola with natural yoghurt and fruit along with homemade Earl Grey Blue Petal tea infused scones with walnut butter and jam. If that wasn’t enough, when the staff asked if anyone would be willing to sample their giant hot chocolate for a photo I was more than willing to oblige!

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After breakfast we headed to our first show of the day in Colette Latchford’s boutique which started off the day on a high note with a brilliant mix of colour and styles. My favourite was this printed jumpsuit with pink belt. As part of the fashion trail, each shop was paired with a local designer. Here, we saw pieces from local knitwear designer Heather Finn. If you’re on the hunt for unique, high quality Christmas gifts then definitely check out the designers websites, all of which I’ve hyperlinked in this post.

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Our next stop was Gosh Shoes, located in the Eyre Square Shopping Centre. The shop was recently renovated and probably has the most varied collection of affordable footwear in Galway (and also won a Retail Excellence Award for Best National Footwear Store 2016 last night!). They are an Irish owned business which have been operating for over 75 years (under the larger company name Greenes Shoes). They also have an online shop with free next day delivery so make sure to check them out (especially if you’re on the hunt for winter boots). As part of the show, the models all wore hats and accesories from Breege Walsh, all of which are available from the Galway Hat Shop and their online store.

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As Blogger hats are all the rage at the moment we had to venture downstairs to the Galway Hat Shop itself to check them out. I fell in love with this black one which retails at €59.95 (cough…my birthday is coming up…). We were all super impressed with the range and styles of hats on sale and as the owner says they cater to everyones style and budget with prices ranging from €10 right up to whatever is costs for a personalized, custom made to order piece (which I’m guessing is a lot!).

Next we made our way to Treasure Chest, one of Galway’s most well established retailers. They have a huge selection of gifts, occasion wear, mother of the bride outfits etc. They also have a whole floor dedicated entirely to a Christmas shop which we had to take a look at! Again the show was full of colour and I absolutely loved this red and animal print dress. The models all wore pieces by Suzie Mahony Millener who is based in Loughrea and recently showcased at London Fashion Week. With each Blogger receiving a voucher to rent a piece for an event in 2016 I can’t wait to get to wear one!

We then popped down to Hartmanns to take a look at some jewellery by Irish designer Maria Dorai Raj. Her pieces, made in gold and silver are really unusual and have a very modern look. They’re well worth taking a look at even if it’s purely juts window shopping!

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The third fashion show on the trail was in Anthony Ryans. They joined forces with Caithriona King Millinery whose show-stopper creations were a huge hit. I loved all the designs but the masked butterfly, green and large blue one really stood out for me.

At this stage it was time for a quick lunch break in Cask on Buttermilk Walk which again was organised by the Into the West Blogger Network. Cask is a lovely little cafe and restaurant specializing in fine wine, food and coffee using local suppliers. It was actually my first time eating here but the chowder and spring rolls I tasted were gorgeous and I loved the intimate setting so I’ll definitely be coming back, maybe for dinner as I can imagine it’s a really romantic evening setting lit with candles.

After lunch we made our way down to Willow, one of Galways newest shops (and which I’ve already spent a good chunk of my wages in – I’ve also just found out they have an online shop too…). Willow stands out for it’s well thought out interiors, it’s staff genuinely helpful service and obviously the amazing clothes. They also have the perfect mix of lower to high end prices to suit most people. My favourite outfit was this red tulle skirt which I assumed would be from their high end collection but actually retails at a reasonable €69.99. Willow paired up with Brid O’Driscoll Milliner whose pieces I really liked as they were glamorous and attention grabbing yet really wearable looking.

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The Kilkenny Shop were the only store lucky enough to be able to host their show outside so while it was being set up we headed into Cloon Keen Atelier to check out their range of perfumes and candles, all made right here in Galway.

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The Kilkenny show drew a huge crowd and the models had a challenge in walking the cobbled streets in heels with all eyes watching but they were flawless, just as they had been all day (keeping in mind they did eight shows with little breaks on a pro-bono basis). The models wore pieces from another Irish Milliner and Jewellery Designer, Emily Jean Byrne, which again were eye-catching yet simple and really wearable. I’ve never appreciated the range an styles of hats and headpieces on offer and how they really do make an outfit until yesterday! I was even moreso impressed by the amount of talented Irish Milliners and how successful they have been both here and abroad.

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With show number six down it was time for a quick coffee stop in Galway’s very own taste of France, Le Petit Delice before heading up to the newest addition to the Galway fashion scene, Muse by Dee. It really feels like Galway is rebuilding itself after quite a few dismal years. Fair play to the shops that stuck it out during the recession as it can’t have been easy. However with people beginning to feel comfortable spending again it’s great to see new shops opening and building up the market. Muse by Dee is filling the gap for affordable, high-quality clothing for the 25 and above age range. They teamed up with young local designer Dearhaile Joyce from Headford, who only graduated in 2015 to show off her first collection.

From here we went to Fallers to have a look at the amazing collection from Natasha Heaslip which was probably my favourite as I love jewellery with a pop of colour. This drop gold, diamond and pink stone necklace was one of my favourite pieces of the day but with a €5,500.00 I think I’ll have to make do with my photo.

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After a hectic day we headed down to Pia on Middle Street for the closing show where we were treated to more Proescco and some light bites from Creole restaurant who had supplied the food at shows throughout the day. Pia, which is owned and run by Stylist Denise Manning is a must visit for anyone into the latest fashions and accessories. From beautiful dresses, jewellery and the ever popular Freddy jeans you’ll find it all here. Jewellery from Lynsey de Burca was showcased during the show. Lynsey is from Galway and her inspiration is the beauty and landscape of the West of Ireland.

After a long day we headed down to the House Hotel for some well earned food and drinks! As the day went so well, and was even trending on Twitter, I’m already looking forward to next year! Huge congratulations to the team from GalwayNow who organised the whole day which ran (or at least appeared to run) without a hitch! Thanks to the Into the West Blogger Network for getting us Bloggers involved and for our delicious Blogger breakfast and lunch!

If you like any of the outfits and accessories you saw in the photos, most of the designers and shops have online stores if you don’t live in Galway. However, if you do pop in to have a look or buy anything make sure you say that you saw it from the Bloggers on the Galway Fashion Trail as they’d love to know that all the effort they put in was noticed! It also looks great for us Bloggers as our little fingers and phones were so worn out from constant tweeting, snapping and endless social media sharing!

Now, if anyone wants to buy me all the outfits and accessories I have my eye on, or just cancel my credit card for me before I do some serious damage I would be very appreciative….

The Bloggers: (l-r): Myself, Jessica (Chaos Wearing Lipgloss), Edel (A Dash of Lime), Grace (Hunter Gatherer), Colette (Wide Eyed and Blind), Sasha and Shonagh (Sashonation), Sandra (A Modern Mommy’s World and My Style Pursuit), Kerrie (Bella and Vogue) and Sinead (Yummy Mummy and Mini Media)