London-based Irish designer, Tim Ryan, is a knitwear specialist that is adored by celebrities and 'real' women alike. And, as with every 'overnight success' he's been working on his craft for years. While he's been stocked in exclusive UK and Irish boutiques, including Browns, Start and Bow (Dublin), for the past few years, and, had his work featured in publications including Vogue Italia and I.D. Magazine, he's about to go mainstream. ASOS have just ordered a bunch of his fringed scarves which are already loved by Alexandra Burke and Cheryl Cole. Alesha Dixon picked some dresses for stage performances, Kate Moss fell in love with his pieces on a shoot and he can't make those amazing fringe jackets fast enough. You've been warned, Tim Ryan is about to go stellar and you heard it on Grazia Daily first! So, let's talk to the Tipperary man about how he's managed to knit gold…
Grazia Daily: So, Kate Moss is a fan!? As one of the worlds most enduring style icons this is pretty ace. How did she find you and what does she love?
Tim Ryan: Kate was shooting with stylist, Katy England, recently and fell in love with one of the fringed jackets. I immediately gave her the sample to keep (how could I not?!). She's the ultimate fringed jacket customer so I was chuffed.
GD: The fringed jackets have been a huge hit since you started doing them, are you bored of them yet or will they be a 'forever' piece within your collections?
Tim: We've been doing them in lots of different versions for 4 seasons now and they are still flying out the door. They appeal to such a diverse range, it consistently surprises me! Alexandra Burke, Lulu and Kim Hersov (Harpers Bazaar) have recently bought them from Browns where they are having a huge rush on them at the moment. I can't keep them stocked to be honest so as long as they sell I'll make them…
GD: Apart from the fringed jackets your scarves have been a big hit and I hear they're going worldwide pretty soon?!
Tim: Yeah, the scarves have been a bit of a phenomenon for the last 2 years (Brix Smith raved about them on Gok's Fashion Fix, Cheryl Cole added one to her Union Jack calendar outfit (see pic) and Eliza Doolittle wore one in her 'Pack Up' video). They just sell and sell because they're reasonably priced and so easy to wear. They've flown out of Browns and Bow for the past year and, now, ASOS has decided to take a chance on them and see if it translates online. It's so exciting to open the product up to a worldwide audience, it's about time Tim Ryan went global!
SS '11 collection
GD: Apart from Missoni, there aren't many designers who manage to make knitwear so hot and modern. Do you find people stick you in the 'jumper' category and struggle with the idea of knitwear as something special to invest in.
Tim: The most common thing I hear from new customers is that knitted dresses don’t suit them or that they're very casual, but they do change their minds quite quickly when they’ve tried on a few of our pieces. There are very few true knitwear specialists out there so it is harder to find really well constructed knitwear than you’d think. But, I find, that once a customer is converted to the idea that knits can work for evening too then they’re addicted to that comfort for life.
GD: For S/S '11 your muse is strong and self-assured, is she inspired by someone real?
Tim: There isn’t a real muse per se, those people are few and far between in the real world, but there are parts of my friends and my favourite customers in all the collections. if these people didn’t bring the clothes to life and interpret them in their own ways then I wouldn’t be inspired to make more stuff so I guess she’s there, but divided between 20 women I know and love.
SS '11 collection
GD: Irish design has had a real boost recently and people seem to be very passionate about it, what names should we be looking at?
GD: London has been home for almost 6 years-how time flies! Are you strongly influenced by your life there or do you think your Irish culture still influences your design direction?
Tim: London is awesome and it's home now but my childhood still remains the main source of inspiration. As a child growing up in '70’s rural Ireland, the highlight of my life was an occasional Vogue brought home by one of my sisters! From then, fashion became romantic and glamorous to me, an escape from the isolation. Perhaps if I grew up in the city, my work may have had a harder edge, but, that idealised view of what fashion was, meant that my vision was always more soft and beautiful. I don’t think there’s much of the Irish countryside in what I do now, but the romantic notions remain!
GD: Finally, is London the fashion capital of the world right now or is there somewhere you'd rather be?
Tim: Nope, London is where it's at for me. It's one of the most exciting places to be in the world to live and work. It's not just the fashion, it's the people, the food-everything is here!
Tim's scarves will be available from ASOS in June.
- Angela Scanlon