Saturday, May 25, 2024

Chinese fashion group Icicle to open Dublin shop

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Shanghai-based fashion group Icicle is to open in Ireland at the end of this month in the former House of Ireland building on Grafton Street opposite Trinity College’s Provost’s house.

Originally a branch of the Royal Bank designed in 1904, the landmark building is said to have been purchased and refitted at a cost of about €10 million and represents a significant retail investment in Dublin by the Chinese company.

Icicle’s architecture director is Paris-based Irish architect David McNulty, the former head of architecture at LVMH, who has overseen the purchase and development of the circa 8,500sq ft premises, of which 4,500sq ft will be used for retail.

Founded in 1997 by two design graduates of Shanghai’s Dong Hua University committed to sustainability and ethical production, Icicle now has 270 stores in China and two flagships in Paris on the fashionable Avenue George V and Rue du Faubourg St Honoré.

It acquired the French couture fashion house Carven for €4.2 million in 2018. Co-founder Ye Shouzeng was last February made a knight of the National Order of Merit by the French government in Shanghai “for fostering friendship and artistic exchange” between the two countries.

Since 2022, the company has also been one of the sponsors of the Hyeres International Festival of Fashion, Fashion Photography and Fashion Accessories in France. Icicle will offer winners the opportunity of designing a capsule for the brand to be sold in their stores.

The design director of Icicle is Benedicte Laloux, formerly of Chloe, Lanvin and Celine in Paris, who brings a French design sensibility and background to the collections that use mostly undyed natural fibres or plant dyes for collections of quiet, luxurious and unfussy clothes that come in a restrained palette of shades for both men and women. It conforms to the company’s philosophy of combining French aesthetic strength with sustainable Chinese fabrics and industrial power.

The current collection, for instance, features simple but sophisticated grey wool blazers, pleated silk crepe skirts in beige and black and semi-pleated black wool dresses for women.

For men, zip-up merino cardigans, cotton velvet trousers and trucker jackets are just some of the items on their site, which also includes stylish and practical hats, bags and scarves. Each item comes labelled Made In Earth reinforcing the company’s eco-friendly philosophy, commitment to circular fashion and sustainability.

It’s a far cry from Chinese fast fashion giant Shein (bigger than H&M and Zara combined) which produces between 700-1,000 new items a day and whose new European headquarters are also in Dublin. Icicle’s opening on Grafton Street on a date yet to be fixed, like their recent first step in Japan, will inevitably be a quiet, unostentatious affair that will still attract interest and attention.

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