Irish Fashion Design: Q&A with Brenda and Helen of Electronic Sheep

Irish Fashion Design – Knitwear Label Electronic Sheep

I’ve been a fan of the fabulously eclectic, fashionably expressive and artistic driven  Electronic Sheep for a number of years now. And what better way to show my appreciation of their work than to feature them here on The Life of Stuff.

I’ve done so in the past under the guise of fashion fixes, and gifting posts. However this post is dedicated to Electronic Sheep, and its creators Brenda Aherne and Helen Delaney.

I have had the pleasure of getting to know Brenda and Helen a little more through this Q&A session and today you will too, when you read on.

But before you do here’s a little background info for you:

  • Electronic Sheep is an Irish knitwear label known for their ‘tapestry-esque’ designs.
  • The label has been featured nationally and internationally in the likes of Vogue, Grazia, i-D, Elle, Wonderland, Kaltblut, The Observer and The Times.
  • Electronic Sheep’s knitwear is unisex and features scarves, wraps as well as jumpers and cardigans.
  • They have stockists in Ireland, Northern Ireland, the UK, Switzerland and Japan.
  • Electronic Sheep are regulars at London Fashion Week, having shown their work for six years.

… And a taster of the Electronic Sheep Autumn/Winter 2017 Collection – Universal Cowboy which is available to purchase now.

Photography & Set Design: Alun Davies | Hair: Annabelle Totty | Make-up: Isabelle Sallis

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Along with a close up of the details. You’ll read the inspiration behind this latest collection in the Q&A below.


 

Q&A’s with Brenda and Helen of Electronic Sheep

 


Irish Fashion Design Q&A with Brenda and Helen of Electronic Sheep
Electronic Sheep AW10
Photography: David Poole | Make-up: Eoin Whelan | Stylist: Lucy Fine

1. What was your inspiration to become Fashion Designers?

Brenda: Both of our mothers were creative and an inspiration to us – mine
was (and still is) a really good crafts person/knitter/dress-maker and Helen’s
was one of the first window dressers at Clery’s Department Store starting her
career there back in the 1950s.

Helen: and I grew up next door to each other and we were into having our own style at a young age. Barely teenagers we would spend our weekends buying second-hand clothes and records in Temple Bar and Grafton Street. While still at school I started to make suede hats for Vintage stores – my first foray into Fashion!

I think a love of music and clothing associated with music genres really influenced us as teenagers. Eighties suburban Dublin offered distinct looks/scenes right on our doorstep – mod, punk, goth, ska, metal, new wave, new romantic and so on. Our BF’s older sister was a ‘new wave’ punk and let us hang out in her room collaged with pages from Fashion magazines and was full of other cool stuff and clothes. We thought the whole thing was radical of course and never looked back!

Irish Fashion Design Q&A with Brenda and Helen of Electronic Sheep
Electronic Sheep AW11
Photography: David Poole | Make-up: Eoin Whelan | Stylist: Lucy Fine

2. How did you officially become a Fashion Designer?

Brenda: I studied Fashion at the National College of Art & Design. I also did a post-graduate in LSAD (Limerick School of Art & Design), became an accessories designer in Munich and worked as a knitwear technologist in Ireland before setting up Electronic Sheep.

Helen: I studied Visual Communication/Graphic Design at NCAD also and for me the master plan was to be become a print based artist or a fashion photographer. I ended up winning an award to work as a graphic designer in New York so I guess that was my destiny! But after several years Brenda and I got together to work on Electronic Sheep and my dream came full circle; we design/illustrate with print and knit and do fashion shoots.

Irish Fashion Design Q&A with Brenda and Helen of Electronic Sheep
Electronic Sheep AW12
Photography: David Poole | Make-up: Eoin Whelan | Stylist: Lucy Fine

3. Where do you take creative inspiration from for your work?

Helen and Brenda: We usually take it from our personal archives, adventures or our industry design experience/past. For AW17 our collection is called ‘Universal Cowboy’ – the first pieces for the collection was commissioned by the ‘Crafts Council of Ireland’ to collaborate with knitwear makers ‘Fisherman out of Ireland’. This in itself was inspiring as it meant we got to produce Electronic Sheep in Donegal and we went on a trip to see the factory. Our ‘Thelma and Louise’ roadtrip (as we called it) meant we got some ideas en route in the beautiful Irish countryside. While not set in Ireland, the new collection features the great outdoors in the form of Arizonian landscapes. The cowboy/cowgirl element was inspired by Brenda’s cowboy boots bought in Vegas some years back. Other ideas were inspired by cigarette packets that we bought in Mexico (bought purely for their look) and old Western movies.

With almost 20 years of Electronic Sheep designs there are quite a few stories. To name a few collections: ‘Holly goes to Paris’, ‘Red Lemonade’, ‘Pussy’s Leap’, ‘Typhoon Puppets’, ‘Airships & Spaghetti’ – one can only imagine…

Irish Fashion Design Q&A with Brenda and Helen of Electronic Sheep
Electronic Sheep AW13
Photography: David Poole | Make-up: Eoin Whelan | Stylist: Lucy Fine

4. What’s the wackiest request you’ve had to date for commission work?

Brenda and Helen: The department store ‘Joyce’ asked us to produce a giant knitted tapestry-esque piece featuring a scene from our comic series and to hang as an art piece in the Hong Kong store. It would have looked amazing but it proved financially difficult. A work of this scale is still on our agenda though.

Irish Fashion Design Q&A with Brenda and Helen of Electronic Sheep
Electronic Sheep AW14
Photography: David Poole | Make-up: Eoin Whelan | Stylist: Lucy Fine

5. What would be your ultimate design commission? 

Brenda: A commission by Miu Miu, Gucci or Prada. It would be amazing to do a range of illustrative knitwear that would combine both theirs and our Electronic Sheep style!

Helen: Or a commission by a street/sports label like Adidas where the designers have a free reign over the design. Electronic Sheep collaborating with a bigger brand would be a perfect opportunity to reach a global audience. We would also love to work on some interior projects and have been hatching ideas for this.

Irish Fashion Design Q&A with Brenda and Helen of Electronic Sheep
Electronic Sheep AW15
Photography: David Poole | Make-up: Eoin Whelan | Stylist: Lucy Fine

6. Where would you love to exhibit and sell your designs – the dream?

Helen: On an exhibit level the dream would be to do one-off pieces for the V&A or the TATE.
We also love being part of the digital world and meeting customers through our website electronicsheep.com – it is becoming an increasingly enjoyable way to show and sell our products.

Brenda: As well as the above, I think the dream is to sell in the best suited and like-minded boutiques and independent shops worldwide. We are very lucky to have such a range of beautifully curated shops in Ireland such as Scout, Atrium and Peel who not only stock Electronic Sheep but enjoy and promote our brands whole ethos.

Irish Fashion Design Q&A with Brenda and Helen of Electronic Sheep
Electronic Sheep AW16
Photography: David Poole | Make-up: Christine Lucignano | Stylist: Brenda Aherne

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All images featured are courtesy of Electronic Sheep. All credit details included.

For more info on Electronic Sheep’s newest and available collection, to purchase or enquire about commissions visit the Electronic Sheep website at electronicsheep.com

Be sure to connect with Brenda and Helen via social media for updates on showcases and events such as the annual NMH Foundation Fashion Show in aid of Holles Street Hospital, Dublin.

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Irish Fashion Design Q&A with Brenda and Helen of Electronic Sheep

 

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