Envoy Of Belfast
Over the past 6 years I've been introduced to brands that have changed the way I think about clothing, how I dress and what I look for in a garment.
There are so many menswear retailers that are tapping into clothing that isn't necessarily trend driven, stocking lesser known designers that are not as accessible on the UK market as well as focusing on garments that have quality, integrity and are made to last. However brands with this ethos in the womenswear market are few and far between.
From the 1990's the concept of 'quick response' or 'fast fashion' has became more influential. Large high street and online brands now have the ablility to react at a frighting pace to the latest catwalk and street trends, going from concept to consumer in a matter of weeks. Combine this with their huge marketing budgets and floods of advertising on social media platforms it can often feel like these are the only other brands that exsist between Primark and Prada.
These kind of stores have taken over the way we shop. Everything is so accessible and easy, why bother spending lots of money on one dress when you can buy 3 for the same price? I'll be honest, up until 6 years ago that is how I shopped. I didn't really care about how quickly I was going through certain items, it was all about buying something for the weekend, it didn't matter if it fell apart the next week because I would just buy something new again, at the same low cost. I didn't really think about investing in clothing. I certainly loved the idea of 'fashion' and 'style' but I didn't have the same connection with quality and integrity.
It is only over the past few years that my tastes have changed and I have learnt the value in clothing - I take real pride in what I wear and I like to know the story behind each garment. I am lucky enough to own some very special pieces of clothing that I know I will have forever. These are items I am hoping to pass down to my daughter (when the time comes) That feeling of knowing you have bought something that isn't just another generic garment, something that isn't just good for a year, a piece of clothing that you know will stand the test of time - all that is worth paying a bit more for.
When it comes to finding clothing that isn't on the high street, of course there are countless online retailers that offer the usual designers and luxury product - from Farfetch to Net A Porter, they have plenty of beautiful 'high end' women's clothing and an overwhelming list of brand names to choose from - but what if you are after something a bit different? Somewhere with brands not everyone knows about, somewhere the masses don't rush to, somewhere that by their own admission is "...a space for products selected with care, chosen for their excellent and distinctive quality of design, fabric, craftsmanship and coherent narrative."
Look no further than Envoy Of Belfast.
Founded in 2007 by Ruth Spence, Envoy sits hidden from view behind Belfast City Hall, Northern Ireland. This inconspicuous store offers one of the best selection of independent designers and international brands than any other womenswear store in Europe.
I admit sometimes walking into stores with more pricey items can feel a bit intimidating, but that is not the case here. The clothing is all beautifully laid out, yet doesn't feel so precious that you can't feel the fabrics, or try a piece on. The staff make it a very welcome space, one where if you need help you can call on it, or you can browse at your leisure with no pressure.
During my visit, owner Ruth kindly gave me the go ahead to pull together some of my favourite looks. To be honest I could have stayed and done this all day! From the Engineered Garments FWK overalls to the signature Paul Harnden prints, there were endless pieces to choose from.
That said, here is a run down of some of the pieces that most caught my eye.
So there you have it. A very small pick of some of my favourite pieces available currently at Envoy Of Belfast.
Of course this only touches the tip of the iceberg. There are so many more designers to explore at Envoy. From the huge selection of Maria Rudman jewellery, hand crafted in Lapland, to Toujours, whose collections are described as 'thoroughly Japanese' made using locally milled, high–quality fabrics. Not to mention the Paul Harnden chairs they have in the store. There is so much to discover.
I really love the selection of brands put together by Ruth. In the coming weeks I am going to take a closer look at some of these brands and find out more on what makes each of them so special.
Special thanks again to Ruth and Jill of Envoy for their warm welcome and great help.
Now what are you waiting for?
Envoy of Belfast 4 Wellington Street, Belfast
tel: +44 28 9031 1110,