circus brand logo

Developing “Circus” our Irish designed, ethically made responsible fashion brand inspired by original womens vintage dresses

The first 20 years:

For many years Carousel bought and sold independent retail brands with a vintage inspired aesthetic in our shop in central Dublin. Sourcing womens vintage dresses was a successful and a thoroughly enjoyable time which lasted over 20 years. Traveling all over the world to trade fairs picking up new cool brands and introducing them to the Irish market. I travelled all over Europe and occasionally the USA attending trade fairs. Carousel became a go to source for original womens vintage dresses and vintage inspired dresses  https://www.ilovecarousel.com/blog/carousel-loves-vintage.html

But like all good things this came to an end around 2010. For many reasons  this business model was no longer viable. Margins were squeezed by increasing rents, rates, vat and other day to day running costs. When the banks stopped credit lines the business almost ground to a halt. A new vision was urgently needed.

 

The adventure begins

Carousel had to find new product that was  viable under the changing conditions. I travelled to Thailand on the recommendation of a friend who had recently holidayed there. In Thailand I found many small clothing manufacturers. Bangkok was a hive of exciting and innovative young businesses with a can do approach to getting things done. It was a very inspiring place to be.  I found many of these enterprises in a place called the Platinum market which I found online. This was full of small clothing brands, some resellers but many had there own factory.

a small Bangkok clothing shop

A typical shop in Platinum market selling their own designs

I spent a week in Bangkok on my first trip going up and down the isles day after day assessing which brands were  potential partners. Initially I bought items at the market and had them delivered to my hotel. I then arranged shipping back to Ireland. I did this for one or two more trips until I had developed a relationship with a number of the shop owners. They would then send me images of new lines by email. I woul transfer the money and they would deliver to a shipper in Bangkok. I did this for 2 or 3 years with a  degree of success. This saved the business in the short term but was not a long term solution.

I travelled to Bangkok every 6 months to build on the relationships and source more sofisticated product. In all my time working with the Thai people I never had an issue. Everything delivered always arrived  as described and in good condition. Travelling to Bangkok opened up my eyes to the possibilities beyond Europe.

Some of our first womens vintage dresses sourced in Bangkok

Our first womens vintage inspired dresses sourced from Platinum market in Bangkok

Thai design is heavily influenced by vintage style. Very often the aesthetic was copied directly from original womens vintage dresses.

Summer Brights: New Vintage Inspired Summer Dresses

It’s been a hot, hot summer so far, and the sunshine doesn’t seem to be leaving anytime soon.  We adore bright colour all year round, but now, more than ever, is really the perfect time to shine in some vivid hues. Combine that with some easy to wear vintage inspired shapes and you will have the summer wardrobe of dreams! Lets take a closer look at some of our latest arrivals. With a rainbow palette, these dresses are a perfect pick for summer.

vintage inspired style bright dress

The Stella Dandelion Seed Dress, €69.00

First of all, we’re starting with our new Stella dress from Circus, pictured above. This popular dress shape is inspired by the style of the 1940s. It features slightly puffed short sleeves, a crossover v shape neckline, a wide, high waistband, and a flared skirt. Our favorite thing about this latest version of the Stella, is it’s quirky dandelion seed pattern on a vivid red-orange background. This a dress you will really stand out in! With it’s glamorous vintage inspired shape, this dress is ideal for fancier soirees this summer. We would pair it with an up-do and some heels for a unique look for a night out.

vintage inspired fashion summer brights

Floral Long Sleeve Dress from Perfect Day, €59.00

Next is the cutest sunshine yellow dress from Perfect Day. A bit more casual than our Stella dress, this dress features a shirt-dress shape, and a dainty floral pattern. It also features long sleeves, which are great for some light coverage to protect your arms on sunny days. We would wear this dress to cinema dates and concerts with friends. You can wear it with some brogues or boots, and a denim jacket, for a dressed down but ladylike look.

Vintage style wrap dress

The Issy Wrap Dress, €69.00

Our Issy wrap dress is such a versatile dress, and that’s why we love it. You could choose it as a bright alternative to boring old pinstripe work-wear. This dress will bring you straight from the office to after work drinks! The Issy features a 1970s inspired wrap shape that fully opens, so this dress shape is always a popular choice with our customers who are breastfeeding. Long sleeves make this a dress that’s great for chillier days or air conditioned offices, and will take you into the Autumn season also.

Vintage inspired summer dress

The Joan Butterfly Dress, €65.00

The Joan dress is another of our popular wrap shapes. In contrast to the Issy, the Joan dress does not open all the way, but instead has a pretty wrap effect bodice, removable belt, and flared skirt. You can pair it with bright and contrasting accessories for a radiant look that screams “summertime”!

With lots more new arrivals now available online, and in our stores in Dublin, Cork, and Galway,  you will certainly have a bright and shiny summer at Carousel! You can shop all of our new arrivals here now.

 

 

 

Summer Seaside Style with Circus

Happy first week of June! It’s officially summer, and we’ve certainly been feeling the summer vibes the last few days here at Carousel. The sun has been shining, and we’ve been enjoying a lil’ bit of a heat wave here in Ireland. We also have lots of new arrivals in, with seaside inspired colours and patterns that are perfect for summer time!

These patterns remind us of care free days spent by the sea. Scrambling and exploring the coastline, paddling in the cool water, and trying to eat a deliciously sweet ice cream before it melts. These dresses are bursting with all of the fun of summer holidays by the beach, with seashells and seahorses, fishes and boats. These pieces from Circus are great for holidays, summer soirees, and unique wedding guest outfits. Bring a piece of summer seaside style into your everyday wardrobe, even when you’re far away from the beach!

Summer seaside style gold fish pattern

The Brigitte Goldfish Dress, €65.00

Dresses like the Brigitte Goldfish Dress (pictured above) are so versatile.  This dress is great for quirky work-wear,  that will take you straight from the office to dinner and drinks in a sunny beer garden. This 1950s inspired fit and flare dress is made from 100% cotton, so is also lovely and breathable. Another 100% cotton option is our Clipper boats pattern, pictured below. This pattern is available in two gorgeous vintage inspired shapes, the Joan wrap dress, and the Fay shirt dress.

Summer seaside style vintage inspired boats

The Joan Clipper Dress, €65.00

Do you want under the sea style without getting so much as a toe wet? With our range of seashell and seahorse patterned dresses, tops, and skirts, like the Stella seashell dress pictured below, now you can! These adorably fun patterns are all set against a fresh blue background. The Stella dress looks great simply paired with some bright strappy heels for summer occasions. If you don’t want to fully dive into summer seaside style, why not take a little dip with one of our printed tops or skirts.  Pair these with some jeans or a plain t-shirt for a toned down beach inspired look.

The Stella Seashell Dress, €69.00

If you’re looking for some tropical vibes, we have you covered with our blooming tropical flower pattern. We even have some exotic fruits like bananas and pineapples to add to this tropical cocktail! Inspired by classic 1950’s dress shapes, and the Hawaiian and Tiki style that were very popular in the United States at the time. Our vivid floral pattern is available in three  dress shapes – the Nellie, the Brigitte, and the Fay.

Summer seaside style with tropical flowers

Left to Right: The Nellie Tropical Dress, €69.00, The Brigitte Tropical Dress, €65.00, The Fay Tropical Dress, €65.00

Pair these dresses with some vintage inspired sandals and a large flower in your hair for the full 1950’s Old Hollywood South Pacific effect! These looks would be gorgeous for holidays, and like many of the other dresses above, they are all 100% cotton, so will keep you cool and looking fabulous on hot days.

summer seaside style tropical inspiration

Vintage Tropical Inspiration

The Circus Story: Carousel’s Own Vintage Inspired Range

Seven years ago, Carousel was in trouble. The Irish economy was in collapse, and Carousel, like many small businesses at the time, looked like it might become victim to the recession. A shop providing vintage and vintage inspired women’s clothing in Dublin city centre, Carousel stocked the shop with clothing bought from other brands at trade shows. But this model wasn’t working for Carousel anymore. Buying in stock from other brands was expensive, and at the time, Carousel was losing money. The future was bleak. For the business to continue, owner Tom Walsh had to find a new way of doing business. So he created Carousel’s very own women’s vintage inspired range – Circus.

The Circus Story

Walsh has run Carousel in Dublin for seventeen years, having previous experience buying for Selfridges, London, and then buying vintage for his own business in Camden Market. Having an eye for vintage fashion, Walsh knew what the Carousel customer wanted. Circus aimed to make high quality, but affordable, vintage inspired fashion, for the woman that cared more about expressing personal style, than the latest fast fashion trend. Another important factor was that the clothing be made ethically, unlike the questionable production values of many high street brands. With that in mind, Walsh set about finding a factory where Circus could be produced. After a long time looking and trying out factories around the world, eventually found the right one though a contact in the U.K. That factory was Good Earth India, based in Delhi, India.

Ethical workplace India factoryWalsh believes that in order to deliver the best product possible, it is vital that it is produced in a factory where the employees are treated ethically and with respect. Good Earth is a spacious, modern factory, with very comfortable conditions for all of its employees. It’s work spaces are well lit and air conditioned. The factory adheres strictly to minimum working age and maximum working hours per week. There are policies in place to deal with worker safety, protecting the environment, and sexual harassment in the workplace. The factory is kept up to standard by the owner, Udayan Kapur. Kapur and Walsh are in frequent contact, almost daily. The factory is SEDEX approved and receives regular audits. Apart from these audits, Walsh makes regular trips to the factory, to check that both the product and workplace are up to standard. Walsh’s design for shapes and prints are then finalised with the help of the team there.

Circus story ethical factory team

The road to Circus was bumpy at first. Putting together a whole range from scratch requires a lot of trial and error. Apart from the problems of finance, distance from the factory, and communications issues, it took a while to get garment fits right and consistent. Walsh discovered that one of the perks of developing your own brand is that you can take on board customer feedback, and make improvements and adjustments accordingly. Customers are an integral part of the development process. Sleeves have been added, more pockets, new buttons, hem adjustments, adding sizes, print choices – these are just some of the changes that have been implemented because of suggestions customers.

Circus story ethical factory IndiaThe end product is a collection that is bursting with rich colour and unique, fun prints, all combined with classic shapes that flatter and fit well. Circus is for the woman who likes to express her personal style, and stand out in a world full of homogeneous fashion. A fan of music and film, creative, opinionated, and clever, fun loving, but hardworking, the Circus woman wants clothing that embodies all of this. Easy to style, comfortable but chic, the Circus range allows you to get on with modern life in vintage style.

Circus story ethical factory making patternsThe Circus Story: The Future

Circus saved Carousel. Without this range, it’s likely the well loved independent shop in the heart of Dublin City would have had to close down. Independent businesses are so important for creativity and diversity in a city. Carousel now employs up to twelve people, with more staff being added as the business grows. Carousel has been able to expand to the online market at www.ilovecarousel.com, a shop in Cork city centre, and mores shops will be opening soon. Walsh and the Good Earth factory continue to work together, and recently became partners, further solidifying their commitment to producing high quality clothing for Circus.

Circus story dublin city shop

Circus is thriving, and continues to grow day by day. It is in a constant state of development and improvement, as Walsh and the team at Carousel work on new shapes, patterns, and more. A hit with women all over the world, with customers as far as Australia, Japan, and the U.S, Circus has built up a loyal fan base. Customers collect their favorite shapes and patterns, eagerly waiting for the latest arrivals. Circus has been recognised by the press at home and abroad, including the New York Times and The Irish Times, and has celebrity fans like Uma Thurman and Clodagh McKenna. Not bad for an independent Irish range, that emerged from the dark days of the recession. Just like it’s fabrics and patterns, the future is looking bright for Circus!

Circus story spring summer

Serve Spring Style in our new Tennis Style Patterns!

Game, set, match! Spring is finally in the air, and that means new arrivals at Carousel. We are so excited to start sharing our latest styles from our Circus range, all designed in house here in Dublin, and produced ethically in collaboration with our factory in India.

We have lots of new patterns and colours now available, all in our popular, vintage inspired shapes of course. One new pattern we are very excited about is this fun and colourful tennis style pattern!

New tennis style Circus pattern

With a bright, multi colour print, this pattern looks great paired with bold, block colours for spring. This pattern makes us dream of summer. Watching tennis on a fresh lawn, sipping Prosecco and munching on some strawberries and cream

This gorgeously fun pattern is currently available in two dress shapes and a blouse. Lets take a closer look at these, and some styling ideas, below.

New Tennis style for Spring from Circus

Tennis Style – The Brigitte Dress

 In a timeless 1950’s inspired fit and flare shape, this dress reminds us of the simple but chic dress shapes favored by Audrey Hepburn.

Fit and Flare dress tennis style patternBrigitte Dress: €65Annabelle Cardigan: €49

Style it simply with a cute cardigan thrown over you shoulders for a laid back retro look. You could even layer a long sleeve polo or tee underneath for chillier days. Dress it up with an updo and some matching block colour pumps for fancier soirees. The Brigitte is so versatile, and that’s why we love it!

Tennis Style: The Anna Blouse

Spring is the perfect time for separates because they give you the opportunity to mix and match, and make endless outfits. This is also handy for Springs more, shall we say, temperamental, weather! You can layer up or layer down, dependent on the weather.

Our Anna blouse shape is a must have for your separates collection. You can wear it out loose over jeans for a laid back look, or tucked into a smart skirt for work. Peek the Anna’s necktie out over a jumper or cardi to add a darling detail to any look.

Tennis style separates look from CircusAnna blouse: €45, Marci Skirt: €59, Annabelle Cardigan: €49, Bag sold in-store only

We styled this look by pairing block colour pieces with our tennis style pattern, to really let the pattern speak for itself. We’ve kept the look bright and bold though, because we want our style to stand out this Spring! Stay with the tennis theme, and keep it comfy, by wearing this outfit with some white sneakers. This look is perfect for a shopping trip and some lunch with the girls.

Tennis Style: The Ingrid Dress

It’s always time for tea in our 1940’s inspired Ingrid dress. We can see ourselves sipping tea from vintage porcelain outside on a green lawn this summer in the gorgeous new Ingrid tennis dress. With cute details, like the button up bodice, fold over collar, and cap sleeves, this dress is so, so cute and unique.

Tennis style vintage inspired tea dressIngrid Dress: €59, Cardigan: €49

We’re complimenting this look with a darling sky blue cardigan, and would add other layers and accessories in dainty feminine shades, to let the colours of the pattern really stand out. This dress would look great paired with some retro sandals and straw hat this Spring/Summer season!

So, if you’re ready to serve some vintage inspired, tennis style this Spring, head over to www.ilovecarousel.com now to net yourself one of these gorgeous styles!

 

 

 

Irish Design for Perfect Paddy’s Day Style

Are you heading to a Paddy’s Day party soon and want to get in the spirit of things? Are you looking for an outfit that is more chic than shamrocks?  We have lots of darling vintage inspired dresses available in shades of green that are just perfect for some alternative Paddy’s Day style. Best of all, they are all Irish designed, here in store by us! So you can show your green colours in an outfit that not only looks great, on any day of the year, but also supports small Irish business. Check out some of our picks for ladies in green below.

Paddy’s Day Style -The Vivien Bicycle Dress

Green Paddy's Day style vintage inspired dressIn a deep mossy green, and covered in a quirky bike print, one of our favorite things about this Vivien dress has to be that 1940’s inspired high waist line and A-line skirt – so flattering! Wear it with some pumps or T-bar style heels to complete the look.

Paddys’ Day Style- The Ingrid Needle and Thread Dress

Paddy's Day Style in chic GreenThis fit and flare shirt dress is just the sweetest! We love the fold over collar and darling lil’ cap sleeves. The Ingrid come with a matching belt you can wear tied to the back or the front, or even add a belt of your own in a contrast colour. This tea dress is perfect for all sorts of soirees as the weather warms up this Spring.

pADDY’S dAY STYLE – The Alma Pin-Dot Dress

Polka dot Vintage Irish Design Paddy's Day styleCovered in a classic micro polka dot pattern, the pretty Alma dress features vintage inspired details like a high, contoured waistline, a flared skirt, gathers on the bodice, and keyhole and necktie at the neckline. We are in love with this romantic and unique dress shape!

pADDY’S dAY STYLE – The Chloe Pin Dot Dress

1960s inspired Paddy's Day Style dress in green by CircusShift forward into Spring with the oh-so-sweet 60’s inspired Chloe shift dress from Circus! This dress is so versatile for so many occasions. It looks just as good with some heels for nights out, as with boots for weekend strolls. You can wear it loose, or belt it at the waist for a different look. Add layers underneath or over, button it all the way or wear it more open – it’s all up to you, and how you express your unique style!

Lots more on ilovecarousel.com!

We have lots more styles in green available on our website, as well as separates, which are the perfect way to add just a little touch of green to your outfit anytime.

To continue supporting Irish design and Irish design, you can shop all of our Circus range here now.

 

Vintage Inspired Looks from Carousel on Xpose

We caught ourselves on camera earlier this week on Expose! – did you see us? Ilovecarousel.com made it onto the small screen with some celebrity vintage inspired ‘get the looks’.  Our style is often compared to the likes of Taylor Swift, Zooey Deschanel and Imelda May to name a few!

The two celebrities chosen were the ever chic Alexa Chung and ladylike Kate Middleton who both have very different styles but do have one thing in common and it’s a love for vintage inspired style.

vintage-inspired-trend-xpose

Alexa – who has been a poster girl for plaid and peter pan collars since she popped up on the celeb scene was a dream to dress.  We teamed our ‘Diane’ contrast top (which has just come back in to stock in a range of colours) with our  ‘Peggy’ check skirt.  This outfit super interchangeable and trans-seasonal which is very handy considering the dodgy weather we are currently having!  Add a Jumper and brogues to this and hey presto hello Autumn!

vintage inspired style trend on TV3 Xpose

Our second outfit based on Kate Middleton is fit for a Queen (I am sorry, I had to!)  The ‘Ava’ swallow and clouds dress is back in-stock and boasts a very flattering shape.  We are throwing back to the fifties with this shirt dress and is an absolute dream to wear.  Curvy of straight it nips in at the waist giving a sensational silhouette.

You can watch the feature here for further styling tips.

Circus-Carousel-iLoveCarousel-Vintage-Retro-Design-Dress-Ava Gardner

Circus Design & Inspiration Ideas, 2

We got some more swatches in to Carousel HQ this week and we’re having fun playing around with them for our new designs.

We narrowed it down to these two fabrics for our Ava dress and we’re really excited to find out what you think of them! One is a Fan design in two tones of purple with a little orange accent. The other swatch is a graphic floral design with a red base colour…almost like a painting.

Circus-Carousel-iLoveCarousel-Vintage-Retro-Design-Dress-Ava Gardner

Circus Design Inspiration: Fabric options for the Ava dress

Click the pic to see what versions of the Ava we currently have online. In the meantime leave a comment below letting us know what you think…purple or red?

Lots of Love, Carousel xoxo

1950s Inspired: The Bestselling Dress From Circus Is Back!

We are in love with this 1950s inspired shirt dress shape. It sold out so fast the last time that it was in stock, that some of us feared we had missed our chance to own one! Well fear no more! The popular green polka version is back in stock here, and, as if things couldn’t get any better, Circus have also added a plain red version of the dress (here)!

The dress would be ideal for a retro themed night out – it really gets us in a 1950s Americana mood! We can imagine ourselves in this dress, sipping on a milkshake in a retro themed diner, then heading to a drive in movie to catch a classic flick. We’d wear it with a cardigan slung over your shoulders, bobby socks, oxford shoes, and a vintage inspired hairstyle to complete the look.

1950s inspired shirt dress vintage carouselGet this 1950’s inspired dress at Carousel!

Get a slice of the 1950’s for yourself, before this dress is as gone as the era it’s inspired by! You can find the red dress here, and the polka dot version here.

Carousel xox

If Spring Were A Dress: Vintage Inspired Spring Style From Circus

Call us crazy, but we reckon that if spring were a dress, it would be this delightful tea dress from Circus! Its delicate blossom print reminds us of all the flowers poking their little heads out of the ground, bursting into bloom as the season starts to warm up. It’s fresh, vibrant colours will invigorate your wardrobe, doing away with any leftover winter dreariness. Inspired by the 1940’s tea dress, this dress keeps that classic shape, but updates it with a shorter length hem. We can see ourselves wearing this dress at a picnic in the park; sitting with your best friends, enjoying some dappled sunlight on our faces and drinking tea from vintage crockery!

vintage inspired spring style dress inspiration carousel

Vintage inspired spring style from Circus – available exclusively at Carousel!

This dress is your very own slice of spring, and is available in two colours, green (here) and orange (here). Find these, and much more vintage inspired spring style, here.

Carousel xox