Riona Treacy is a London based luxury womenswear brand with a contemporary aesthetic. The designer behind the label, Riona, studied fashion and then completed her MA in textiles, before moving to London to work with major brands within the industry such as Alexander McQueen and Mary Karantzou.
Textiles are at the heart of the brand, where simplistic tailoring paired with traditional dye processes, make her pieces modern, wearable and feminine.
The brand, which launched in 2012, has recently picked up mainstream media attention following Riona’s presentation at London Fashion Week, and she has been featured in both Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue Italia, and even named by Forbes Magazine as “one to watch in 2019”.
All Riona Treacy pieces are designed and handmade in London. She works closely with her suppliers and proudly supports the British and Irish manufacturing industries.
We sat down with Riona, who is originally from Belfast, to talk about her fashion influences, the SS20 collection and what we can expect next from the slow-fashion brand.
The Riona Treacy label was founded in 2012 and you have since been nominated as “One to Watch” in the Irish Fashion and Innovation Awards, what inspired you to be a fashion designer?
Ever since I was a child, I always knew I wanted to be a designer, and have vivid memories of making clothes for the tooth fairy. At University I studied Fashion and Textiles and then achieved a masters in Textile Materials for Fashion Product, so I was always planning to work in fashion. However, launching my own brand happened kind of organically. After my MA and internships, I had been designing bespoke dresses for individual clients for about five years before I decided to set up my own ready-to-wear brand.
What fashion brands or influential figures have influenced the brand to become what it is today?
I have always loved McQueen, and I was lucky enough to spend six months interning with them at the start of my career. I learned so much about attention to detail, being meticulous and doing things properly, no matter how many hours it took, and this is something which still influences the way I work today. I also think Iris Van Herpen is really pioneering new technologies in the industry, her collections are always fascinating.
As a slow-fashion brand creating garments that are built to last, how do you ensure your garments are sustainable?
We manufacture everything in the UK rather than abroad, with most pieces being handmade right here in London, which means our production process has little to no carbon footprint and has been produced in ethical working conditions. By producing locally, it also helps with lead times but, most importantly, quality control. Each garment is checked by our team personally before we ship it, while making locally helps us ensure that every garment is made with care and craftsmanship. We aim to waste as little as possible, by recycling or re-purposing our fabric off-cuts to make small accessories, or we donate them to local schools or craft groups to ensure the fabric pieces avoid landfill. We are always looking for new ways to reduce our impact on the environment and fully support sustainable changes within our industry.
What are your views on sustainability in the industry?
There are so many single-use plastics and so much fabric waste in the industry and we all need to make changes to help reduce our waste. In collaboration with our manufacturers we have agreed to remove plastics from our production. Any necessary protective plastics or plastic hangers used in the manufacturing process are sent back to be reused and our customers receive their purchases neatly packaged in recycled cardboard boxes and tissue paper. We also use gummed paper packing tape, which can be recycled with the box and is also fully biodegradable.
Your SS20 collection evokes summer memories from your childhood in Ireland, how would you describe the collection in three words?
Fresh, relaxed and joyful.
Your signature Shibori style makes an appearance again this season, how do you create and alter the print each season to make it fresh?
In the studio we are constantly dyeing fabrics and experimenting with different techniques to create new patterns, so every season we use completely new ideas and colours depending on the collection.
Each piece in the collection is designed with comfort and versatility in mind, what else does the Riona Treacy woman look for in garments?
Our garments are designed so that each piece can be worn with a bra, every garment is cut specifically with this in mind. We also design with a real woman’s body shape in mind, so the prints are engineered to be slimming and the tailoring is designed to flatter certain areas women can be conscious of.
With a combination of bright yellows, greens, powder blues and neutral tones evident throughout your SS20 collection, what colour palette can we expect to see from you next season?
As the next collection is AW20 we also tend to go a little darker with our colour palette and this season we are using lots of muted tones and monochrome. It’s all about texture this coming season.
Can we expect any new styles for AW20?
There will be lots of vegan leathers and chunky shapes this season, along with some of our signature silhouettes.
Where would you like the Riona Treacy label to be within the next five years?
Over the next few months we are investing in growing our team and expanding our studio space, so we can do our development, pattern cutting and sampling in house. As our brand grows, each collection is focused on using more sustainable materials and exploring future technologies and textiles. Within five years I would like to have increased the size of our collections and would love the brand to have a global reach, and we plan to present a large scale on-schedule runway show at London Fashion Week.