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Lynn Temple on Tailoring at Magee 1866

As we celebrate a new season of men’s tailoring, we talked to our Chairman Lynn Temple who has seen how men’s tailoring has evolved in the business over the decades. He gives a brief history of tailoring at the brand and his thoughts on why it continues to have a place in every sartorially sensitive man’s wardrobe…

Tailoring beginnings in 1866

The story of Magee starts in 1866, John Magee began as a small draper’s shop on the site of the present Magee of Donegal in Donegal town. Lynn comments on the history, “John Magee began as a cloth merchant and sold fabric that was woven in Donegal throughout Ireland and the UK in the mid-1800s. Later my grandfather came into the company in the 1870s as a young apprentice and he continued to buy cloth from the local handweavers and selling it to the tailoring trade. So, you could say the business began with meeting the needs of tailoring.” At this point in fashion history tailors were thriving and all suits and jackets were made in this way as there was no ready-to-wear.

Thornproof in the 1940s

With the move from bespoke tailored suits to the rise of ready-to-wear in the late 1940s many businesses turned towards manufacturing and so did Magee 1866. “In this period our Thornproof suits were the order of the day, an advertising slogan which highlighted the quality of the fabric. Our outerwear, designed and woven in Donegal, could withstand both a day in the field and day at the firm. Lynn remembers, “Thornproof told a story of a man wearing a robust Donegal suit which was built to last yet was a sophisticated cloth, something men really needed in the austere post-war era.”

Leading the way in the 1970s

Fast forward to the 1970s Magee continued to produce quality tailoring for men and produced strong advertising campaigns across Ireland and the UK with slogans like Magee Make Much of a Man, Masters of Masculine Colour and For Men Who Lead the Way. While these slogans raise a smile and an eyebrow today, they tell us what men wanted in their wardrobe – bold colour and standout tweeds. Magee offered both in fashionable cuts.

Into the 21st Century

In the late 2000s Lynn’s daughter Charlotte Temple came on board as Creative Director and developed the Magee 1866 brand, modernising collections for both men and for women. He says, “Charlotte really moved the brand into the 21st century and moved our offering from jackets, suits and trousers to collections with distinct moods and seasons.” For men’s tailoring she built upon the tailoring expertise and fabrics that the brand is so famous for but developed the collection for the needs of the modern man with an emphasis on luxurious natural fabrics, with a selection designed and developed in the mill in Donegal.

The Modern Man

Today, the brand is a destination for tailoring for both work and wedding - with ready-to-wear and made-to-measure options. Lynn outlines his thoughts on why it continues to appeal, “As a family and as a business we believe in integrity. Integrity and quality are woven into our fabrics and garments and it’s what’s made them last the test of time.” In an era that craves authenticity this belief in producing beautifully crafted tailoring which often draws on fabric designed and woven in Donegal has never been more important.

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