“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, consistently making a name for herself with her sporty, streetwear collections, each of which references her country in a humorous way. , often ironic, original and technically realized.
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 appeared with their support at London Fashion Week, making her solo runway debut in January 2020 to great acclaim. Vogue compared her work, in which she recycled Colombian warehouses in sophisticated ways, to that of innovative Japanese designer Junya Watanabe.
Passionate about collaboration and upcycling, she has worked with UK cycling brand Rapha as well as US outdoor specialists Columbia, refashioning cycling coats, trousers and tops in imaginative and vibrant ways by cutting and piecing together. Her sense of color is exceptional, a gift she attributes to her training in textiles and a semester in color and color theory at NCAD. “I was into dyeing, color mixing and printing; now I try to do two brights and two neutrals and blocks of four – it helps me divide my collection and base it,” she explains from her new London studio in Hackney, which she shares with three creatives other Irish.
As a woman who designs for men, she finds menswear more relaxed and exciting, which suits her personal style of dressing. She loves to tell stories through her collections. Early ones, such as abstract GAA graphics, were created by scanning old Dublin shirts that belonged to her father, in collaboration with Synflux using the technology to produce new artwork. Her Aran cable sweatshirts with merino panels with functional zippered pockets, finished with bias lacing. The tourism t-shirt was based on Irish tourism posters from the 1930s.
Not surprisingly, her fans include Irish rapper and songwriter Rejjie Snow and Grian Chatten, lead singer with Dublin post-punk band Fontaines DC, although she insists her brand is for everyone. “I love that it looks easy on the boys and just as easy on my little sister,” she says.
A strong work ethic inherited from her parents, who own a bakery and deli in Baldoyle, she does everything herself with a part-time assistant. So much time goes into creating each piece in the collection that online images don’t do justice to the quality of the fabrics and their finish – merino wool, organic cotton, 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 presided over by the famous Walter Von Beirendonck, one of the Antwerp Six, now head of the Department of Fashion at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. The award came with a price tag of nearly £40,000 (€47,200), which has helped her develop her collections.
Her latest for SS23 is based around a smiley face neon stage 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 an ordinary item, elevating that of cheap cotton in a lightweight jacquard knit with fine Italian thread. Other items include the regular toweling poncho, now part of outerwear, in two-tone boucle, while a hooded sweatshirt comes with sloping shoulders and is reversible. Colors abound – brick orange, mustard yellow, charcoal brown and sandy beige. And there are shoes – new takes on the popular Crocs, tailored to match the look.
Her collections are stocked by Browns and Farfetch and hip concept store Notre in Chicago, as well as online. Her diary on her website robynlynch.co.uk uploaded from her phone gives an insight into her working process “and how my brain explodes”.