Magee specialises in designing and weaving luxury natural fibre fabrics in the Mill in Donegal. Their designers work closely with some of the world’s leading fashion brands to create colourful, intricately designed fabrics. They still hand-weave using lambswool, alpaca and cashmere yarns that result in a beautifully soft handle. Designs include the classic Salt & Pepper, the true Donegal tweed inspired by the ever changing landscape surrounding Magee. Every Magee collection, whether fabric, garment or accessory is designed to reflect the distinctive Donegal heritage with a contemporary twist.
Magee was established in 1866, originally as a small drapers shop in Donegal buying and selling handwoven tweed, by John Magee, a cousin of the current generation’s great-grandfather, Robert Temple. Robert Temple bought the business in 1900 and it has been in the Temple family ever since. Today Magee is a fourth and fifth-generation family run business, run by Lynn Temple (Chairman), his daughter Charlotte (Retail and Design Director) and son Patrick (Sales & Operations Manager of Magee Weaving).
Magee has weathered two world wars, three recessions and an increasingly competitive market. The ready-to-wear business developed in the 1930s while Donegal tweed was put on the fashion map in the 1960s with Sybil Connolly and Irene Gilbert using Magee fabrics in their womenswear collections.
In the 1960s, Magee Weaving developed a green Donegal Tweed which was it was proud to supply to Aer Lingus for the cabin staff uniforms. In the 1970s, Ib Jorgensen designed a new uniform in line with the more blue/green colours which Aer Lingus changed to around this time. In the 1990s, this was further updated with a pure wool high-twist cloth which was designed and woven by Magee, and looked very similar to the current uniform.
Magee 1866 consists of three inter-related divisions: Magee Weaving, Magee Clothing and Magee of Donegal, the umbrella company for the retail outlets in Donegal and Dublin, and employs 130 people in Ireland, approximately 100 of those in Donegal Town. Magee has four designers on the team and still employ 6 hand-weavers, the bulk of the fabric is woven on powerlooms. The industry today demands very technical designs with the multiple use of many colourful yarns. Some of the cloths – such as bouclé and other very high fashion cloths – can only be woven on the power-loom. Magee Weaving specialises in designing and weaving high-quality natural fibre fabrics in the mill in Donegal. All four designers work closely with some of the world’s leading fashion brands to create colourful, highly textured fashion cloths and, of course, this includes classic Donegal’s with their unique pepper and salt and herringbone characteristics.