by Charlie Whitehand

The British high street continues to crumble as the Irish designer closes down her website and brick and mortar stores.

Orla Kiely was founded in 1995 and named after its owner. The brand is recognised for its colourful 70s inspired geometric prints, with Kiely herself often being referred to as the “queen of prints”. The label’s distinctive stem designs have appeared on bicycles, bedding, Tesco bags for life, budget fashion and on yoghurts. Over the years the brand has been popular with the likes of the Duchess of Cambridge and Alexa Chung.

The decision to close its stores and website came after its parent company, Kiely Rowan, went into administration. The company ceased trading on 17th September and the retailer’s stores on the Kings Road and Seven Dials in London and Kildare in Ireland have closed.

Her husband and co-founder of the brand, Dermott Rowan, said it had
entered voluntary liquidation “following various challenges that have faced the company over the past few years, both in the UK and abroad.” Consultancy David Rubin & Partners has been appointed to wind down the handbag and fashion business and liquidate its assets.

The company employed about 50 staff, half of which worked instore. The rest were located within the brand’s head office in Fitzrovia. About 40 of these individuals have been made redundant as a result of this decision. It has been reported that staff were told the retailer did not have enough funds to pay their salaries.

Kiely’s Home and Design licensing business, which accounts for about half of the brand’s sales, will continue trading. A spokesperson

commented: “Orla Kiely’s home and design licensing business will not be affected, and its selection of accessories and homewares will continue to be sold through its distribution partners.”

The exhibition “A Life in Pattern” was set up at the Fashion and Textile Museum to celebrate Kiely’s work. It features more than 150 patterns and products spanning from the 1990s until today, as well as collaborations with photographers, film directors and architects.

The brand’s parting statement said, “thank you for embracing our brand and designs throughout the years and for your ongoing support”. The brand will forever be remembered for their signature laminated bags, featuring a simplistic plant print in bright and bold colours.

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