Raised on a dairy and beef farm in Co Wexford, Monica Walsh worked in the agri-industry – including a stint on a beef farm established by her family in Canada – before establishing her slow-fashion brand, Cobbler’s Lane, in 2019.

Her latest collection, Bluebells, is inspired by spring flowers and the optimism they evoke after the winter months. See cobblerslane.com for further information

What is your earliest style memory?

My communion dress is a real stand out style memory for me. My mother made my dress and I was so excited to wear it, because I knew no one would have anything like it. It was very much inspired by Princess Diana’s wedding dress: it had huge puff sleeves and rose buds all along the neckline. I still love a dramatic puff sleeve, which can be seen across my collections; the rosebuds were also the inspiration for the rose corset in my latest collection, Bluebells. It’s a real statement piece.

Monica Walsh runs Cobbler's Lane from her family farm in Co Wexford

What has been your best fashion investment to date?

My first sewing machine has definitely been my greatest investment, as it gave me the freedom to make the clothes I wanted to wear. This is where I really developed my love for creation and design. I’ve had the sewing machine for almost 20 years and I still use it today when designing.

What has been your biggest fashion regret?

I’ve always been very adventurous when it comes to fashion and putting together outfits; looking back, not all of them were hits, but that’s the fun thing about fashion. I do look back and shudder at all my low-rise jeans moments. I know the trend is coming back, but I will not be participating this time around. They just aren’t practical!

Cobbler's Lane Tulip dress €360 and Daisy blouse €150

Who is your style icon from any era and why?

I have a very eclectic taste in fashion. I love everything that came out of the 70s; the use of colour and print and the beautiful flowing bohemian style dresses, but I also covet the classic sophisticated wardrobe of Victoria Beckham and Kate Middleton.

Despite these fashion icons being influential in my life, my ultimate style icon is my mother. She has a great sense of style, and people still stop me in my local village to tell me how they used to look forward to seeing what she would be wearing for any event. She is an amazing designer and has taught me so much along the way.

Cobbler's Lane Horizon midi dress €295

What was your career pathway to setting up your own brand?

I definitely didn’t take a straightforward pathway to get here. I started with a degree in interior design, before going on to study fashion design while working in the agricultural industry as a sales representative. I loved working in agriculture, but my heart was always in fashion. I was making clothes for friends and family and designing every spare minute I had; it was all consuming, and I was completely obsessed with designing. I knew that if I didn’t pursue building my own brand, I would regret it forever. In 2019 I quit my job, and as they say, the rest is history.

What has been the biggest challenge to date in setting up your own fashion brand?

It has definitely been an interesting time to start a business, in the midst of a global pandemic and an economic crisis, but with that being said I think my biggest challenge has always been trying to overcome imposter syndrome. It’s no secret the fashion industry is a tough nut to crack, and although I’ve hit personal targets and goals over the last three years, doubt is a terrible thing that can always creep in. Last year I received “Highly Commended” in Irish Country Magazine’s Irish Made Awards, and it was a huge achievement for me and also a great stepping stone for me in believing that this is where I belong.

Cobbler's Lane Dancing Sky midi dress €360

How do you practice sustainability within your brand?

Sustainability is at the heart of every decision I make, and I am focused on creating a brand that embodies this. I work with natural and recycled fabrics, and design all patterns for the most efficient use of fabric. To reduce waste or left over stock, everything is made to order. I have a strict zero-waste policy, which has allowed me to be creative using off-cuts for bows, scrunchies, collars and even dresses.

What is your hero piece from your latest collection?

This is such a tough question, because I love this collection and there are so many strong pieces in it. If I have to choose, I would say the Forest Flower dress for more casual wear. It’s a lovely, versatile, comfortable dress that can be worn with boots for running around town or with strappy sandals on a night out. For occasion wear, I would say the Tulip dress paired with the Daisy blouse is a real show-stopper. I’ve already worn this dress for an awards ceremony and plan to wear it for an upcoming wedding. I’m a very proud outfit repeater!

Cobbler's Lane Forest Flower mini dress €250

What well-known person would you love to see wearing Cobbler’s Lane?

I have a whole vision board of celebrities I would like to see wearing Cobbler’s Lane – top of the list is Kate Middleton. She has a beautiful sophisticated sense of style, and is a great advocate for re-wearing outfits.

When it comes to the red carpet, Zendaya never gets it wrong. She is always the person I look out for and it would be such a thrill to see her wearing one of my designs.

I’m incredibly proud to say I’ve already ticked some stylish celebrities off the list such as Amy Huberman, Laura Whitmore, Jennifer Zamparelli, Aoibhín Garrihy and Una Healy.

What is the best tip you can share in terms of looking after our clothes and ensuring longevity?

I would recommend having a little sewing kit to mend any rips or tears that can so easily happen in everyday life. There are so many YouTube videos out there now that will cover almost any scenario. A stitch here and there will give your favourite dress or jeans many more years of wear.

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