Attempting to put Indigo & Cloth into a singular, one-size-fits-all category would be a fruitless endeavour. Since this menswear and lifestyle boutique first opened its doors onto Essex Street East in 2007 as a refreshing alternative to overseas multinationals dominating the city’s retail sector, it has gone down myriad unique avenues that encompass design, publishing and brand conception. As a result, both the business and its innovational founder, Garrett Pitcher, have played an indispensable role in shaping – and progressing – Dublin’s flourishing design industry. Noteworthy Indigo & Cloth collaborations include its ID2015 series of talks addressing the many facets of contemporary culture and entrepreneurship, as well as its in-store cafe partnership with Clement & Pekoe: the boutique’s premises also comprise design studios, wherein a number of inventive projects have been devised in recent years. I spoke to Pitcher regarding Indigo & Cloth’s continual evolution, the essential development of consumer- brand relationships and the importance of guiding Ireland’s wealth of creative talents.
How did the concept of Indigo & Cloth first strike you?
The first time I thought about opening my own place was as brand manager of Pepe Jeans. I was selling into lots of stores who didn’t seem to care or understand how retail was evolving. It was also the first time I went to the trade shows and fashion weeks, which opened my eyes to all the brands and stores out there. A few years later, I did the ‘year around the world’ thing and took notes and photos everywhere I went. You could see where retail was going so then it was a matter of timing, which we ultimately got wrong. That is a fundamental reason Indigo & Cloth is no longer just a store.
Since the store first launched eight years ago, your business and its ventures have proven themselves to be very multidimensional; from I&C’s design studios and collaboration with the Dean, to your co- founding of THREAD Magazine and the creation of Dyflin. Did you always desire to have involvement in such a variety of creative routes, or was it something that evolved over time?
It’s been a constant evolution. I’ve always been one of those who was good at lots of things but master of none. I’m interested in a lot of industries, but in particular lifestyle and brand-led companies. I regularly find myself looking into anything from urban planning through to a new soap company. I enjoy learning and creating so in that sense having the client side of the business is exciting.
It’s clear to see that your selection of brands in-store has been carefully curated – what key elements do you search for when you’re choosing labels/collections, both domestically and internationally?
Being a buyer for your own store can be both easy and hard. It’s easy as you are the one who signs off but hard because you are also the one who pays the invoice. I think our buying has become more sophisticated but we neglect systems when we search for a new brand. Fit and fabric are key to me personally, then we worry about the brand name and price. It’s important to have a good relationship with the brand and make sure to represent the label well too. It’s about having respect for both a designer’s expression and customers’ hard earned money. I don’t stock anything I wouldn’t buy myself, but must remember I’m not the customer at the same time. My job is to curate the best of what I see into a space that I would like to visit myself.
What kind of consumers do you envisage purchasing in Indigo & Cloth?
It’s always a tricky question and answer. Its a mindset thing as it could be a college student who saves up or a favourite customer of mine who is nearly 90 but loves coming in for pants every Christmas. He may also have a thing for my wife so she makes that sale every year. Generally people are very interesting and have their own thing going on. I must know half of Dublin by face or name at this point which is a privilege of the job. There’s also something nice about presenting something like our place to someone visiting Dublin.
What is your current stance on Dublin’s evolving fashion and design industry, and do you feel there are any specific ways we could help this sector to develop further over the coming years?
How long have you got? Anyone who knows me would know this is something I care about a lot and would be opinionated on. The ‘Blueprints Talks’ series this year have shaped my views too. ID2015 has been fantastic at raising this debate and awareness. I hope it’s something that can be built upon, as the general feeling out there is that we are still quite a young country with a voice and vision yet to find. I think we have some great design talent across many fields and an energy to do more. In fashion it’s been great to see places like Nowhere push the boundaries. There are many ideas that I would have to help, too many for here. I would propose a separate design council away from crafts, alongside a fashion council that helps our designers in a similar way the British do. In short, experts in their fields creating more experts in the field.
What can we expect to see next from Indigo & Cloth?
There are several things before the end of the year, including a new website with better e-commence experience. We also have a fair few client projects landing. I will be happy if everything goes according to plan for the rest of the year and have some things nailed on for 2016 too.
Piece by / Amelia O’Mahony-Brady