A STRABANE artist who used lockdown to turn his hand to fashion design has been rewarded by having his clothing range listed on the ASOS website.
Niall Lynch from Belldoo along with his talented partner Bridgene Graham set up unique fashion brand, ‘Coalesce’ when their businesses were closed down in March due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Niall, who is former St Colman’s High School student, began his career as an artist at a young age, mainly focusing on fine art commissioned pieces for clients, and in 2016, he got the opportunity to begin a tattoo apprenticeship in the Anchor and Rose Tattoo Parlour.
Last year, Niall set up his own studio ‘Shinigami Tattoo’ in the Pennyburn area of Derry but the business has been closed since March.
His partner, Bridgene, has been involved in the fashion industry for over 15 years, and in 2012 she opened her own couture house where she creates luxury, bespoke items and has produced sell-out ready to wear collections of embellished, dreamy garments.
Due to the lockdown, the couple decided to team up and create something special.
Niall explained, “Both our businesses were forced to close in March last year. It was my intention as an artist to seize this opportunity to sharpen my skills as a tattooist and go back to the fundamentals.
“I aimed at releasing a set of art prints like many other tattoo artists looking for ways to replace the income they had lost.
“While working on a piece of digital artwork Bridgene had pointed out how great it would look on a silk kimono. We talked about doing a collaboration before but never had the time due to our own business commitments.
“We seized this opportunity to develop a new business model combining both our skills which is where the name ‘Coalesce’ was coined.
“In June 2020 after months of sketching, digital designing, pattern cutting and sample making we had our first product, the ‘Dagger and Bloom’ silk scarf,” explained Niall.
The couple design everything from start to finish including agreeing to a theme, research, brainstorming, layout, colour scheme and the drawing process.
Then Bridgene takes the lead in hand making the garment measuring out each panel to the millimetre.
The couple’s venture has become extremely successful and their products have now been listed on major fashion website ASOS.
Niall explained, “We had confidence in the product we just needed a platform to let more people know about it.
“When applying for ASOS it was unlike any other selling platforms.
“We really didn’t expect to get on it and it was very much just taking a chance.
“As to make the grade you need to be counted as emerging design talent, an innovative and independent label.
“So far the response and support has been brilliant, especially since we really only started Coalesce in the second half of last year.
“It started mainly with our friends and family buying from us, but this then leapfrogged pretty quickly after we set up our website, selling our garments to customers in England, Germany and even LA.”
From the start of May Coalesce can also be purchased from RK Menswear in Strabane.
“The plan going forward is to hopefully have our stock in some more local clothing outlets after lockdown, we have already had some positive developments regarding this recently so watch this space,” said Niall.