Former punk band member, philosopher and photographer Lucy Clarke added another creative string to her bow several years ago when she started knitting baby clothes. Elks is now a full-time operation employing several seamstresses and producing beautiful handcrafted childrenswear using the finest Irish materials. Lucy lives in Dublin with her husband Simon and children Jo Jo (9) and Hart (6). “The adult collection is on the to-do list,” laughs creative director Lucy Clarke in response to my plea to own the grown-up versions of her beautifullytailored childrenswear pieces: herringbone tweed coats, stylish knits, linen dresses, tweed bonnets, dapper dickie bows, all handcrafted in Ireland with a playful heritage look that reflects Ireland’s rich history and connection to craftsmanship.
Former punk band member Lucy travelled to the last remaining mill in the country to source native Irish fabrics such as tweed, linen and wool that would be kind to little ones’ skin. “I was so overwhelmed by the beautiful materials and workmanship of the mill, it inspired me to design a range using these resources,” explains Lucy, whose foray into fashion design started when she was pregnant with her daughter, Jo Jo.
Up to that point she was busy as a photographer. “I started knitting while pregnant and found it very therapeutic. I made little legwarmers and sold them at markets. I couldn’t keep up with demand so I went a step further and designed coats with beautiful Irish tweed from Donegal and they captured a lot of attention.”
The coat is Lucy’s favourite design to date, the peak-shape of the hood a unique characteristic that blocks the rain from falling on the face. “My kids have one each and three years on they’re as good as new and are now being passed down to cousins.”
Even President Higgins was enraptured. He passed by the Elks stall at the RDS showcase and spent quite some time staring at one of the tweed coats before announcing he had one just like it when he was a boy.
Culture plays a huge part in the design aesthetic; a recent trip to the Japanese collection at the V&A museum inspired Lucy’s latest collection of kimono-style bath accessories for babies. Occasionally people are surprised by the price tag (€24€240), but this is what it costs to pay a local craftsman to ethically make garments. Lucy explains. “Each piece takes time, using the finest material and workmanship and is unique — that’s the beauty of it.” elks.ie