Garb: Emma Manley

Posted November 28, 2015 in Fashion


Dublin-based fashion label Manley is known for its bright, confident and utterly practical collections which contain a striking level of skill and craftsmanship in every piece. Totally Dublin get the exclusive on SS16 from founder Emma Manley, straight off the back of showing with the ID2015 Unfold presentation at London Fashion Week.


Did you always want to be a fashion designer? You have a family background in fashion, did that contribute?

My mum was a fashion designer so I was brought up around it. I can’t say that I always wanted to be a fashion designer, but I always loved it and the idea of doing something in fashion. Once CAO time rolled around there was nothing else on my radar, I was very fashion focused at that point. From about the age of 14 or 15 I had been reading all of the fashion magazines so it was a case of ‘eyes on the prize’ with that only in my mind. I started off by doing a foundation in fashion and textiles in Coláiste Íde, I went to The Grafton Academy but that was after a year working where I ran the Topshop To Go Service which was a specialist style advisor service while I was applying for Fashion Design in LSAD and NCAD and getting nowhere with them, unfortunately being rejected for about three years in a row. The reason I applied for the Grafton was that there really was no other option to be honest.


Could you tell us about the new SS16 collection? Also, what’s your favourite piece and why?

I love this collection because it’s really different for Manley in a number of ways. It’s the first time we’ve done a collection with all of our embellishment completely removed. With the launch of Manley jewellery I suppose we kind of sat back a thought that it would be cool to take a break from all of the embellishment on the actual garment but creating jewellery which lays over the garment with embellishment on it. SS16 is very simple, very girly, with clean lines, we also went for huge colour. It’s definitely the most colourful collection that we’ve done in years. We would usually have our base colours which tend to be nudes and then in the summer we would do navy and the winter we would do black, but we’ve even stripped all those out. We’ve got a beautiful blue, a bubble-gum pink, and an apple green, and they’re just really bright and chirpy and summery colours.

I love the Carrie Skirt and the Lana Crop together – I think they’re really fun. I love separates, I think it’s really great the way you can together more formally or separately depending on how casually you want to wear them. It’s about letting your wardrobe work for you as well, they’re investment pieces but you can wear them in loads of different ways. So I think those twinsets are really cute and my favourite colourway in them is the blue with the apple, those colours look great mixed in together.


You’re known for working predominantly in leather – what goes into the making one of your amazing studded pieces?

A lot really, working with leather presents good and bad, every single item is completely unique and that’s what I love about leather. You’re never going to have the same piece as somebody else. In terms of the hours that go into making one of them – every piece has to be individually hand cut, so from our point of view it’s very much a labour of love. It is handcrafted luxury, it’s not mass-produced laser-cut ‘thirty at a time’ or ‘three hundred at a time’. It’s really that we work on one and one only at any one time.

In terms of the studding, in order to get the studs in, the leather has to go through five different processes and there’s three of them that are done with our bare hands and two that are done using machines. Again, it’s very much a labour of love, we could have them mass-produced in China using glue guns and plastic studs, but we actually go by the old way of doing it, it’s a very traditional way used in equestrian leatherwork – for things like saddles and bags. So we’ve adopted that and I think it works really well for us on the clothing, there’s a real honest weight to them which shows in the movement of them. Every piece is 100% individual, when you’re doing an investment buy, what more could you want than knowing nobody else really has a piece exactly like that?

Manley SS16 Cori Necklace - Old silverYou’ve been adding new fabrications and accessories to your womenswear – could you tell us a little bit about those too?

We delved into the fabrications that we had with Manley jewellery, I never really expected it to be as successful as it was, people have really gone for it and are loving it so we’re actually planning on doing a Manley accessories line as well, which looks great. I think it’s a really great way for us to do more and more in the embellishments, as really there are endless possibilities with embellishment but being able to do it on jewellery and bags and accessories means we can get far more creative with it. So it’s a really nice outlet to be able to create these mad necklaces for people to wear them with their own wardrobe or if they do have any Manley, they can mix them in with that. I’m really looking forward to getting my hands dirty with more jewellery, more accessories, and exploring the area further.


Who is the Manley woman?

Our customer is very fashion conscious, she wants something easy to wear but doesn’t see dressing up as a chore. They want to wear something that will influence how they feel on the day, they want to purchase ‘investment buys’ – really nice pieces, really beautiful pieces. They don’t chuck them out at the end of the season, they wear them season after season. They mix and match it in with vintage, with high street, with other brands. It’s somebody who’s brave and takes chances with their wardrobe.

Be the first to snap up SS16 Manley from mid-December at Arnotts, Dublin and online at

Words: Honor Fitzsimons



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