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Cork Independent

So Last Season

Get out and shop

Wednesday, 15th January, 2020 5:07pm

I was very sad to hear at the weekend that Irish fashion retailer Swamp had closed its doors and it was a sentiment echoed by many who had so many fond memories of shopping there when they were younger. I always remember as a teenager getting the bus to the city with pals and Swamp on St Patrick's Street was always our first port of call to pick up outfits for the upcoming disco.

Retail is extremely difficult at the moment, whether you’re a big brand or an independent boutique, as brick and mortar stores compete with online shopping. People are always sad, nostalgic and regretful when a shop closes, especially one that brings back so many memories like Swamp, but in reality when you think about it, when was the last time you set foot inside a clothes shop?

The truth of the matter is if you want to keep shops open and keep people in employment in these shops, then the reality is that you’re actually going to have to go shopping there every once in a while. Shops cannot stay open without customers going in and buying things.

Personally, I’m not one for major online shopping, preferring instead to visit a shop and that’s because I vary quite a lot in sizing so I like to be able to try on the item of clothing.

I know people who buy piles of clothing in one online session only to return most of it because the sizing is wrong or it just doesn’t suit. When you go into a store, you can avail of the expertise of the staff there and so it lessens having to do all the online returns.

I’m also seeing an increase in personal shopping clients and that’s mainly because people want to shop smart now with expertise and guidance.

It’s not about spending a lot of money or buying loads rather getting the best with the budget that you have and getting pieces that you know work well together. Shopping shouldn’t be stressful so take some time out, visit your favourite boutique or store for a leisurely browse and treat yourself to lunch afterwards.

In more positive news, I recently came across a gorgeous new wedding dress label called Belle and Heather with beautiful pieces designed and made in Cork. Seamie and Elaine are a designer couple working from their studio in Macroom and if you met them, you would see that they lend their own sense of unique style to the dresses that they make.

They launched their debut bridal range in autumn 2019 after five years of doing bridal alterations and wanted to offer something different to contemporary brides. They draw inspiration from everywhere including albums that they are listening to, to a girl on the street with a unique look. The dresses and separates have a real clean and contemporary feel to them and are elegant and simple which means there’s plenty of room for styling them up however you like, giving an adventurous bride plenty of freedom to create her own look.

A great example of this is the Alanis dress with a classic shape but with a surprise cutout at the back. As the design duo themselves say: “We use mostly crepe for a clean, modern feel but we also offer some velvet and lace pieces. We love an individual dress, so we’re always open to combining elements to create your own ‘demi bespoke’ look. The pieces are handmade to order and made in Cork.”

Belle and Heather is currently stocked in Bella Bleu bridal so if you’re a 2020 bride looking for a classic but cool dress, then this is the label for you.

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