The new Irish online store that has set fashion hearts beating

Deirdre McQuillan: Two former Brown Thomas buyers have branched out on their own to set up Ecru Studios

A new venture by two seasoned former Brown Thomas buyers has set tongues wagging and hearts beating among the fashion fraternity in Dublin. Ecru Studios is an online store founded by husband and wife team John Redmond and Karen Higgins. Between them they have clocked up more than 30 years as creative powers in the store, John as creative director of the group and Karen as head of buying, travelling the world sourcing luxury brands in fashion and accessories to introduce to the Irish market.

They have fulfilled a long-held dream of setting up on their own, joining forces to bring together fashion and lifestyle pieces carefully scouted from designers, artisans and artists from Spain, Italy, Sweden and Denmark that reflect their own values and aesthetics. Trends are not the focus, and the clothing balances neutral colours with easy-going shapes, many of which are one size fits all. Staying warm will be everybody’s priority this winter, and there is no shortage of items in their selection that fulfils that function with style and simplicity.

“We called it Ecru because it is a blank canvas and our starting point,” says Higgins. “We chose real clothes for real life. We wanted to embody comfort with beautiful, simple everyday clothes that take you everywhere, with brands that are under the radar and don’t scream logos.” There is, for example, a black winter wrap coat from Sweden that looks and feels like cashmere, but is actually double-faced wool and the perfect cover-up for chilly winter days.

Elsewhere, a soft wool bouclé waistcoat, hoodie or popover worn with a striped cotton shirt and organic cotton wide leg trousers are designed to fit every shape. A simple black dress with bell sleeves or a long grey one in knit are items that work for daytime as easily as evening. Accessories include long alpaca wraps, lightweight ankle boots, polished shoes, crossbodies and some striking eco faux fur woven clutches, also from selected European brands.


Redmond, who has painted for many years and had his first solo show in 2016, shows his hand with the choice of sculptures, vases, prints and decorative lights in the Ecru collection, along with candles, patchwork cushions and other objets d’art — a lifestyle mix of things they’d like in their own home as people passionate about quality and craftsmanship.

Ecru opened for business on September 13th. Over time they hope to expand with pop-ups and collaborations with other makers.

Deirdre McQuillan

Deirdre McQuillan

Deirdre McQuillan is Irish Times Fashion Editor, a freelance feature writer and an author