Amelia O’Mahony-Brady continues her series on the fashion stores striding their own unique catwalk in our capital.
In a burgeoning fashion sector such as ours, any boutique with an unwaveringly dynamic attitude towards Irish retail is as treasured as gold dust. These are the very traits that make up NINE CROWS: first established five years ago, taking its original name from the 9 Crow Street address at which the boutique was located, the last half-decade has seen the business undergo various transformations on both a physical and virtual level. Its high- quality curation of vintage pieces, however, has been one constant throughout the brand’s evolution, and has thus garnered a cult following internationally (through its vibrant retail website) as well as domestically. The latter can be proven simply by strolling around Dublin: you would be hard- pushed not to spot a distinctive style purveyor sporting one of their Clueless- esque mini skirts on the street, or the equally popular, vivid faux-fur stoles and velvet crop tops created this year for NINE CROWS’ debut collection of in-house designs. I spoke with founders Emma Fraser and Dean Ryan McQuid on the limitless scope of their customer base, the global provenance of NINE CROWS’ vintage collections and the future of Ireland’s fashion industry.
When was the idea to set up 9 Crow Street – NINE CROWS’ first incarnation – first sparked?
Emma’s grandmother left her tonnes of vintage pieces that she had collected throughout her years and that was where her initial interest in vintage fashion was sparked. Similarly, Dean’s family worked for a charity and while he used to help them sort through the stock for their shops he came across lots of amazing pieces, creating a love of vintage. The pair then found each other on Facebook and it went from there. Soon after a coffee together, they opened their shop with some hangers and €500.
Do both of your roles within NINE CROWS typically overlap, or do you tend to look after different sectors of the business individually?
As co-founders, both our roles naturally overlap frequently. The company came around so organically that neither of us planned what our sectors would be but, with our business growing everyday we’ve learned what each of our strengths are and our individual roles have developed.
Your vintage stock is very eclectic, and is always bursting with vibrant prints and colours! Do you have a favourite location for sourcing pieces?
We travel all over to source the perfect pieces for our amazing customers; we pride ourselves in only stocking the highest quality and most beautiful vintage pieces with lots of character. We appreciate high-end vintage designers like Missoni and Chanel, and we hand pick our stock from all over the world – if we told you exactly where we’d have to kill you!
NINE CROWS’ line of in-house produced garments & accessories launched earlier this year – what are you primarily inspired by when designing?
Our NINE CROWS line is inspired by what our customers want and what is going on around the world. We want to supply our girls and guys with pieces that they’re going to feel and look amazing in.
Do you have a particular, NINE CROWS woman – and man – in mind when curating your collections each season?
We’ve come to realize it’s impossible to pinpoint your customer base to a single style, it’s so diverse. We cater for so many different personalities when curating our own brand pieces each season, always taking inspiration from what is going on in the world. It’s important for brands to cater for a wider audience.
Your business naturally has a strong online presence, from its retail website to social media. Do you think – personally and generally – that there is future risk for e-commence to overtake the demand for boutiques altogether; or will there always be a majority customer base that desires a non-digital shopping experience?
We anticipate that the huge growth in e-commerce will continue but we think there is always going to be a need for retail because sometimes there’s nothing better than being able to physically touch a product before you buy it. We don’t think the world is there just yet!
What is your viewpoint on Ireland’s burgeoning fashion scene, and how would you like to see this sector further develop over the next few years?
Having just launched our modeling & creative agency – NotAnother we hope to play a crucial part in the development of the fashion scene in Ireland. Things are changing, the market is growing, and we see huge movements in the future for Ireland’s fashion industry. People need to start supporting Irish designers and appreciating Irish creatives.