Spun from the Heart, Woven from the Soul
We’ve worked with family company Magee for nearly thirty years, although, we admit, they began to weave their Donegal magic a little before we got to know them.
John Magee founded the business in 1866, gave it his name, and, in turn, brought his young enterprising cousin, John Temple, into the fold. Together they travelled the markets buying tweed and selling it in their Donegal drapery shop. Gradually, the business evolved, John Temple acquired ownership, and began to contract weavers to produce exclusive Magee designs.
At the time weaving – alongside farming, fishing and thatching – played a significant role in crofting life, and the traditional Donegal patterns are inspired by this world. There’s a poetry to the visceral connection between man and nature apparent in the names; fishbone for the herring in the wild Atlantic, barleycorn for the whispery crops in the fields, and salt & pepper, for the scoured quartz flecked slopes of the mountains.
Magee cloth was sold to tailors throughout Ireland and the UK, prized for its rich colour and yielding, softness.
Soon, production was taken in-house to the mill in Donegal, though even today Magee support the ancient craft of hand-weaving and still employ weavers who work from their own homes, on traditional wooden looms.
When John’s son, Howard, joined Magee in the 1940’s he embraced the trend for ‘ready-to-wear.’ Gentlemen who wore Magee stood out against the grey of the ‘de-mob’ crowd and the brand quickly established a loyal following. In this era, famed designers Sybil Connolly and Irene Gilbert used Magee tweeds to fashion their impish, nipped waist take on the Dior look.
Over the closing decades of the 20th Century, fashions evolved and technology was incorporated to complement – never replace, the traditional weaving techniques. Despite the lure of cheap labour overseas, Magee are wedded to their Donegal mill and swear it’s the peaty waters of the River Eske, and the unique heritage of their skilled work force that ensures their tweed is softer to touch and more pleasing to the eye than any other cloth.
Today, Magee produce Men’s and Women’s collections, as well as accessories, homewares and bespoke handmade cloth. For three generations our families have shared an appreciation for the integrity of Magee Donegal Tweed. Archie meets regularly with 4th generation, Charlotte, to discuss the A Hume collection and her father Lynn, sits at the helm – Chairman, protecting the Magee heritage for the future.