Frewen & Aylward – A Dún Laoghaire men’s wear institution
It’s no secret that Dun Laoghaire is home to fantastic destination shopping. One of our best known stores is Frewen & Aylward, the exclusive menswear business that’s been family-owned and run since 1962. Today’s store is owned and operated by Martin O’Byrne.
Dun Laoghaire’s centre of men’s fashion traces its roots back to Kingston’s on O’Connell Street in Dublin 1. Kingston’s was a thriving menswear business famous for their shirts. A Trim native, Mr Dermot Anderson, was the dynamic figure behind the success of Kingstons and coined the phrase “a Kingston Shirt makes all the difference”. Working alongside him were a Mr Edmund Frewen and Mr Robert Aylward, followed by Martin’s dad Foncy. Frewen & Aylward decided to combine their strengths and open their own shop in Exchequer Street, Dublin 2 in 1962. Foncy joined them in 1967 acquiring a 33% share of the business and commuted each day from the family home in Trim Co. Meath to the shop on Exchequer Street.
When we asked about the third partner’s missing name on the door, Martin told us: “The name was already too much of a mouthful to add O’Byrne to it. It never bothered my Dad or me that our name is not over the door. “
The journey to their Dún Laoghaire location
So how did the store end up in Dun Laoghaire? It arrived via a detour through Stillorgan, Killiney and Trim.
Many clients remember our shops in Stillorgan & Killiney not too many know we briefly had a branch in Trim. The newly opened Dun Laoghaire Shopping Centre was home until 1997. The business changed hands in the early 80s when Messrs Frewen & Aylward retired and The O’Byrne family bought their interests in the business.
Men’s fashion became the family business as the children grew up. Marty told us:
“As a teenager I worked with my dad during school holidays learning the trade and enjoying the time we spent travelling to and from Dún Laoghaire. After a stint in college I joined Dad full time in September 1985, the same year I saw Springsteen play to 95,000 fans in Slane Co Meath, the same summer of Live-Aid. “
In 1995, we got an unmissable opportunity: “A magnificent premises [on Lower George’s Street] came on the market in 1995. Owned by The Thompson Family since the 1930s it was an exclusive Furniture Showroom showcasing the most beautiful furniture from around Europe. They got a very young architect called Sam Stephenson to redesign the building in the early 60s – it stands the test of time and is still a beautiful building split over 3 levels.”
We moved the shop to 44 Lower George’s Street in 1997 where it continues to attract shoppers from around Ireland and further afield.
The Store’s Biggest Achievement to date
With such a legendary history in retail, Frewen and Aylward’s was never just a menswear shop. Home to a collection of some of the best minds in the business, Frewen and Aylward is still a high-achieving shop that attracts talent both in fashion and tailoring. When FX Kelly (on Grafton Street) closed its doors in 2006, Mr Richard Farrell came home to his roots, having started his career in Mc Culloughs of Dun Laoghaire he brought a wealth of knowledge (and a book of clients) with him.
According to Martin, the store’s biggest achievement came in 2008 when the team won Menswear Retailer of the Year for UK & Ireland.
“Being voted the best at what we do was especially rewarding as it included the UK. Dara O’Briain was the host, and 1500 people filled The Gloucester Hotel’s Ballroom on Park Lane London. Penneys / Primark shared a table and we both won awards on the night. It was a night I’ll never forget.”
For years, Frewen & Aylward was run by Martin and his brother Gavin. “My brother left the business a few years ago to pursue other interests. With any luck he might miss the rag trade and give me a hand in the future. Myself & Richard are ably assisted by Joe Waters and CK Mbhele are our two younger style advisors.”
What’s the best part of Martin’s job today?
“Buying, I’ve always enjoyed introducing new collections to our clients. We are lucky we have our 12 key suppliers who consistently hit the mark with their designs, colours and quality. We are particularly fond of Italian fit & design, the Germans are brilliant at practical good quality, the Dutch are inventive, the French have flair, but the Irish collections are really special.”
Based on the excellent reviews on Google Marty is obviously doing a great job in picking what is going to appeal to his Dún Laoghaire clientele.
What’s on offer during the COVID-19 restrictions
How can you help support Frewen & Aylward during this time? They are offering a click and collect service online, for more information see – http://www.frewenmenswear.ie/
Enter the Love Dún Laoghaire Day Competition – May 2020
Frewen & Alyward are partners in the inaugural Love Dun Laoghaire Day, it’s easy to enter, just click the image below and follow the instructions! We look forward to receiving your entry.