It's been a gradual process that's begun to speed up. Introducing designer collaborations over time and lines such as Savida and Gallery updated a value-friendly old stalwart of Irish design and shopping. The grannyish vibe is dying out. And it's being replaced by something still reasonably priced but infinitely more interesting and a hell of a lot cooler.
In fact, it's probably the most effective use of designer collaborations that I've seen. Instead of having a one-off or annual model of inviting new designers to design collections, Dunnes have taken on regular collaborators who design new collections across homeware and clothing (and now food) each season. They've tied well-respected names to their brand and have given them the room and time to cultivate their brand within the brand. The collections only grow and increase in strength, making Dunnes stores almost unrecognisable.
The homeware unit for Dunnes in my local, the Swan Centre in Rathmines, was renovated over the summer and it looks amazing now. (It's kind of dangerous, actually, too much temptation.) I want to shop there. Being inside the store is like being in much higher-end décor and furniture shops, it's all much more considered, thought out. From the layout to the products. And the concept store on George's Street always make Savida and Gallery pieces feel like you're shopping in a boutique.
The whole thing just makes me weirdly...proud? Like, I've always liked the brand and I love to support Irish design and companies. To see the improvements and growth and energy in such an old and established brand is really inspirational.
PSA: This is how you do the designer collab. And do it right.
So, are y'all feeling the new Dunnes as much as me? And for readers not located in Ireland, you've added it to the list of things to do when you visit, right?