Charlotte and Jane; a fifties inspired Irish fashion label

Posted by Miriam On May - 14 - 20114,819 views

Charlotte Cargin and Jane Skovgaard are the visionaries behind the Charlotte & Jane brand. Charlotte is a graduate of the St Martin’s College of Art and Design and Jane, who is originally from Zimbabwe, studied Fine Art in Durban and has also worked in interior design and textiles.

Inspired by the elegance, femininity and glamour of the ‘50s, the Charlotte & Jane brand is 100% Irish. Designing in their studio in Kinsale Co. Cork, Charlotte & Jane employ Cork based seamstresses and source their wool, tweed and linen fabrics from Irish mills throughout the country. Based in Kinsale, Co. Cork, Charlotte and Jane blend their artistic talent and creativity to produce dresses which have been described as ‘timeless’ and ‘heirlooms’.

Charlotte & Jane offer something a little different as if customers do not wish to buy ‘off the peg’ as such, they can visit the website and create their ‘perfect’ dress – choosing from the wide range of designs, fabrics, colour combinations, sleeve style and length.
Charlotte and Jane are also happy to speak to customers if they would like advice on the style/colours to best suit them.

Continuing on from the success of previous collections and in keeping with the timeless, feminine designs the brand is renowned for, this season’s range features classic silhouettes with modern style quirks, perfect for flattering figures Mad Men style!
Vibrant tangerine, flattering coral tones, pistachio greens, sky blue and pale lavender are the favourite colours of Charlotte & Jane for this collection. As always, clients can choose their favourite dress design and handpick from a wide range of gorgeous block colours or retro
printed cottons featuring everything from flowers, stripes, polka dots and check to beachballs, strawberries and comic book style characters!
They have recently launched an online boutique. Time to ask them a few question about their work.
Tell us how you two got together to start this project?
It all started with vintage kimonos ! I was importing them from Japan and wanted Charlotte to come up with some gorgeous 1950s underwear to showcase with them. But we realised fairly soon that this wasn’t a huge money spinner at the start of the BIG RECESSION and during the discussions we had ,we both thought that 1950s bathing costumes were amazing . Researching these we thought that they would be inspiration for the perfect summer dress . We made 30 cotton print dresses in different styles taking care to include those wonderful details that the bathing suits had….rouching, bows, buttons , French lace , and launched them in a fashion show June 2009. Since then its been a long , winding yet happy road to where we are now!

Tell us about your career in the past?Charlotte is a graduate of Central St Martins and won several awards during college including taking part in the fabulous Berlin Fashion Week .Her degree focused on knitwear and she brings her love of detail and perfection to our dresses. I am a college tutor in painting and drawing and an artist, and have a love of textiles having had several exhibitions round the world in that field.

Charlotte Cargin


Do you have a passion for the vintage fashion style, or also for rock and roll music and other vintage related things?
Vintage fashion is the ultimate shopping experience. Finding that delicious litttle gem of a dress that no one else will be wearing for a price that you can afford. Swing dancing , rockabilly, Chet Atkins, Link Wray  love them all!!!!!Oh and our very own Imelda May the Irish rockabilly sensation who has bought our dresses and has been so incredibly supportive of our brand! 

You’re just recently online with your web shop; what’s the secret of your success?
Following our hearts and instinct! We decided early on that no business is enjoyable if you ‘re daily doing things you hate.So we cut all the stuff out that wasn’t working and what is left really works…..

What’s your favorite brand, and why? 
Our favorite brand is any vintage or charity shop that we can rummage through for perfect gems or amazing ideas for the next style we try!

Do you think vintage fashion is lasting?Absolutely. As the world’s resources shrink we should be proud to use and reuse clothes worn with love and pride by each generation. Throw away fashion is so BORING.

Jane Skovgaard


Tell us about the design process and what goes into your clothing?
Charlotte and I have a cup of tea, maybe another one  and as we chat and sketch ideas , things just emerge naturally. We really are just designing stuff that we actually want to wear ourselves…..

 What inspires your designs?
1950s bathing suits, 1940s glamorous pinched waist dresses, the colours outside in the gardens that we love, anything we find in vintage shops.

What sets you apart from other designers doing vintage/retro style?
We drink more tea? ?

Do you have other passions besides designing?
Gardening, dogs, kayaking, reading , sleeping mmmmm

How do you see the future?
The future seems to be all about more direct contact with the customer. The creators/growers should be the ones to take the most profit. We need to see far less of the middle management taking more of the profits. The recession in Ireland has thrown up the fact that the problem is far too many people in middle management. To be able to buy something of value from an ethical source the customer needs to be able to buy  directly from the person making this product. Buying online is definitely the way the world is going. The only problem we have left is what to do with all the bureaucratic middle management people? Send them away to regain their spirits while swimming with sharks?

Is there anything you want to tell us?
Just to say that we are very proud to be using Irish made linens and wools in our collections and to be working with the owners of these mills , supporting a tradition in Ireland that goes back several 100 years. And that we have all dresses made by 6 wonderful seamstresses in Cork working from their home studios. Their expertise is what makes our bespoke designs so very special!

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