Magee and a brief guide to its Donegal Tweed

Magee clothing, Magee jackets, Donegal tweed suits – if you’re a certain kind of sophisticated, style-minded gentleman, you may have come across these terms before. For those a bit less in the know, we’re here to help you discover for yourself what must be one of the most quietly understated success stories in British fashion: tailoring experts Magee, and their Donegal tweed.

What does Magee specialise in?

In 1866, John Magee set up a small drapers shop in Donegal, Ireland, and started buying and selling hand woven tweeds. A century and a half on, the Magee business still specialises in producing luxury fabrics in Donegal, using the finest of yarns: cashmere, lambswool, alpaca, silk, and linen.

What exactly is tweed?

Tweed is a highly traditional fabric that’s immovably ingrained in the cultural heritage of the UK. From its inception in Scotland in the 18th century to its huge popularity in 19th-century London, tweed has and will continue to, act as a material steeped in the British countryside.

The very nature of tweed is one of durability; the weaving of pure virgin wool into a coarse, earthy-hued material made it an instant success within the gentrified circles, and has transcended time, taking place as a staple in many a gentleman’s wardrobe.

What makes Donegal tweed so unique?

Although the story of tweed began in Scotland, it quickly migrated to Ireland where, in 1900, Robert Temple bought off John Magee’s business and started weaving the illustrious Donegal tweed.

Bones from the fish caught in the Atlantic inspired the herringbone patterns, the dotted landscape of Donegal inspired the ‘salt ’n pepper’ fabrics, and the dyes originally used in this proudly Irish tweed all came from the natural flora found in Donegal. Many of the colours are still used today – gorse yellows, heather purples, moss greens and fuchsia pinks.

Where can you buy Donegal tweed products?

The Magee website is the place to go. Donegal tweed still runs strong as a mainstay of their collection, but often with a radically contemporary twist. From elegantly contemporary, city-esque overcoats, to fully traditional tweed jackets, to tweed-covered holdalls, Magee’s products not only hold a celebrated heritage but also represent a movement with the times.

Love all things Irish? Check out the best places to spend St Patrick’s Day if you’re stuck in London.

Further Reading