Maker: Corrigan Coats
Behind the brand: Katie Corrigan
Using Harris Tweed® fabric with a contemporary twist to make stylish, practical coats
Necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention.
It all began when creative force and founder, Katie Corrigan, was searching in vain for a winter coat that was both functional and stylish. Walking home from work in the winter months, Katie realised she was virtually invisible to cars. Stepping out on the low-lit streets, she envied the cyclist’s wardrobe, full of high visibility options. Questioning why she didn’t feel as safe, Katie began exploring the possibility of creating a modern coat that both sheltered you from the elements and enhanced visibility in the dark – and so formed the idea for Corrigan Coats. The goal was to create garments for people working, exploring and enjoying themselves outdoors with are rooted in ideals of sustainability and practicality, whilst still holding to a stylish and glamorous aesthetic – and what better fabric than Harris Tweed® to achieve these goals?
We asked Katie at Corrigan Coats to talk us through her story and her use of Harris Tweed® fabric.
She says, “its durability, sophistication and infinite colour palette, combined with its history, make Harris Tweed® one of the most iconic fabrics in the world and that’s why we use it for all of our Corrigan designs. Harris Tweed® is the perfect fabric for our garments: warm, breathable and durable but also luxurious and elegant. It really will never go out of fashion.
The brand is rooted in Scotland and designed for the Scottish climate so using a Scottish fabric is a key part of our DNA. For us, that also means ensuring that it is, and always will be, made in Scotland. Thanks to the Harris Tweed Authority, our customers get that guarantee and the knowledge that it is authentic and of incredibly high quality.”
It is important to Katie that her business is kept as close to home as possible, in order to both support the local economy and also to ensure that the carbon footprint of Corrigan Coats is kept to a minimum, something of which the clothing industry and customers are increasingly aware. With these values in mind, after visiting the Outer Hebrides and seeing the Harris Tweed® fabric industry first-hand, in Katie’s words: “I was blown away by the skill, patience and mastery of the intricate designs that combine hundreds of colours to produce stunning cloth and, well really, I’ve never looked back.”
Katie chooses which Harris Tweed® fabrics she uses for her pieces carefully. Getting tired of black-only options of smart coats in the shops, she opts for patterns with vibrancy, textures and colours that best show the quality of the cloth. On this topic, she says, “I love the fact that it isn’t just one colour, there’s layers of it which creates a depth that other fabrics can’t match.” Using the Harris Tweed® fabric in a contemporary style, Katie pairs neutral greys and navies with a punchier contrast of pink or turquoise.
One of the key values in the heart of Corrigan Coats is inspired by Katie’s love of walking all year round in Scotland (and requiring the gear to do so!). As Katie believes in the benefits of walking for our mental and physical health, she wants to encourage this as a company. This is why Corrigan Coats supports the charity Living Streets Edinburgh, whose mission is to achieve a better walking environment in the city, and to inspire people to walk more.
Another core value for Corrigan Coats is Katie’s dedication to sustainability. She explains, “It’s a rather over-used and ambiguous term. But to me it’s about the environmental and social impact of our garments. By using Harris Tweed® fabric and manufacturing in Scotland we minimise transportation, support local livelihoods and know that the people involved have good working conditions and fair pay. We produce small runs of garments, in what we consider to be classic designs, which means minimum waste in manufacturing and allied with the quality and durability of Harris Tweed®, encourages our customers to buy better and buy less often.”
She goes further to explain her pride in Corrigan Coats for its ethos and thoughtful designs: “At Corrigan Coats, we’re trying to introduce Harris Tweed® to a wider audience by giving it an innovative edge with the addition of reflective piping. We are proud to be supporting Scottish industries, by using Harris Tweed® and our skilled manufacturers based in Cumbernauld. It’s so important to support the manufacturing skills and craftsmanship that we have in Scotland.
I’m also proud that the majority of our designs are unisex. Fashion shouldn’t be bound by the restraints of gender and so we design garments with everybody in mind.
As a brand, we’re proud to be curating a community that cares about and holds similar values to that of our own. Whether it’s someone considering the long-term impact of the fashion industry or somebody that simply adores Harris Tweed® fabric as much as we do, the close-knit community that we’re slowly forming is one to be cherished.”
Looking to the future, when asking Katie about her plans for Corrigan Coats, she says, “at the moment I would say keep an eye on our social media for the launch of a new product line that should be coming out near the end of the year (hint: coats but not for humans)!” She also explains to us that over the Covid-19 pandemic, unfortunately, many of her stockists have had to close. However, these difficulties have brought about the creation of a new e-commerce system that has meant Corrigan Coats feels an even closer connection to its customers by supplying them directly. As well as working on new uni-sex designs that are ‘classic and will stand the test of time,’ Katie will also be turning her attention to organising an in-person event later in the year to meet and connect with those who have bought her coats over the last few months – so keep your eyes peeled on her social media and website updates!
Katie finishes telling us her story by affirming her love for the Big Cloth: “We are delighted to work with one of the most iconic materials in the world, Harris Tweed®, and we look forward to helping generations find new and innovative ways to showcase it.”
We’ll certainly be keeping an eye on the creative force that is Katie of Corrigan Coats. See her social links above to stay in the loop!
Photographs by Laura Meek