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If you’re a fan of vintage clothing, you’re probably familiar with Dublin store Dirty Fabulous.
If not, Dirty Fabulous specialises in bridal and occasionwear from the 1920s to the 1960s, and the hand-selected collection spans over 100 years.
Owned by sisters Kathy Sherry and Caroline Quinn, the store on Wicklow Street is a sartorial mecca for women who are passionate about clothes that have a history, and that you can’t find anywhere else on the high street. 
We caught up with Kathy and Caroline to find out more. 

Caroline Quinn

Did College/further education get you where you are today?
Kathy: My chosen career from college was so far removed from my current profession that they aren’t even in the same orbit!
Caroline: I think everything you learn adds to your personal arsenal of knowledge and experience. I have been working since I was 17 and have had every imaginable job and I learned something new in each one.
Did you fall into your profession by accident or did you always have a career path set out?
Kathy: I see it as a little bit of an accident and a little bit of destiny! I had a stroke nearly eleven years ago which meant I had to step back from my social care profession. After I recovered I began working with Caroline in a beautiful interiors boutique. We realised how well we worked together (even as sisters) and planned to channel our adoration for all things vintage into a new career for ourselves. When the planning began for Dirty Fabulous it was full steam ahead and took years of preparation and dedication from both of us.

Kathy Sherry

Have you always wanted to work in the fashion industry?
Kathy: Fashion has always been integral to my life, I grew up within a family of seamstresses, tailors and costumers that stretched back over generations, but I never planned to work in fashion myself.
Caroline: The simple answer would be no, I’ve always loved fashion as an expression of my creative spirit. I have always wanted to be surrounded by beautiful fabrics and textures but I also had notions of working in a dusty library surrounded by faded leather bound books with gilt edges and beautiful imagery.

The store is filled with carefully curated vintage finds

If you weren’t doing this, what would you like to do?
Kathy: I do the blogging for Dirty Fabulous so I suppose I could probably see myself focusing on a lifestyle blog and developing my photography skills for this. I have two small boys so whatever work I took on would have to  have the same flexibility that Dirty Fabulous allows to fit around them.
Caroline: I can’t imagine not doing this. I love what I do so much I can’t imagine anything being as fulfilling and enjoyable as being one half of Dirty Fabulous. I did apply to be a train driver at one stage, so maybe I’d follow up on that, I do like a jaunty hat!

The sisters love working together in their Dublin store

What’s the biggest misconception about what you do?
Kathy: We’ve been able to establish our business to a great point and I think people think we’ve a big team behind us but really it’s only myself and Caroline, and whatever family members we can rope in to help at different times. Dirty Fabulous is our baby, and as yet we’ve been unable to relinquish control.
Caroline: That there are staff and I spend my day dressing up and playing. We work about 60 hours a week and never switch off. It’s totally integrated with our lives and family. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Most pieces are from the period between 1920 and 1960

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Kathy: We’re currently developing our own vintage inspired bridal collection which we’ll be launching soon. Hopefully this will become a major factor of Dirty Fabulous and will lead us into having an online boutique.
Caroline: I would like our own range to be well established, with new lines being added to each year. Maybe a staff member so we can take a holiday!

Vintage fashion

Where do you see the Irish Fashion Industry going in the future?
Kathy: I think we’re hugely lucky to be within such a dynamic fashion industry. I think Ireland is on the cusp of great things artistically, and within the fashion world. Our independent boutiques are world class and this shouldn’t be downplayed.
Caroline: There are a lot of great designers in Ireland and I think if there was more support we could have a really strong presence internationally. It’s hard to get started and the ridiculous rent and rates to pay in Dublin in particular make it impossible.
We are a small nation so it’s tough to be independent and survive in the big bad world. If we nurture the talent we have and look at the long term we could have a great thriving industry without losing a lot of talent abroad.

The boutique also specialises in bridalwear

 What advise would you give to someone who wants to break into your field?
Kathy: Listen to every professional you encounter. Take note of what they are saying, they have an abundance of experience that you’ve yet to acquire. You can have an amazing ability and flair with style and fashion but without business savvy you won’t survive long. It can be glamourous, it will be fabulous, but it will take more work than you could ever have imagined!
Caroline: Know your product. Know as much about every aspect of it as you can possibly learn. There is so much more to running a business like ours than you might expect. Expect to never have any time off again and be happy for it!
What’s the best advise you’ve ever been given?
Caroline: Start small and don’t expect to break even for at least 5 years!

The accessories in particular are worth checking out

Who or what inspires you?
Kathy: Our Mum who passed away a few years ago was one of our biggest influences and we always work with her in mind.
The innovators of the past influence us hugely but even though we’re vintage mavericks we’ll still keep an eye on current fashion and take inspiration from the modern world.
Caroline: Mum, I know she is cheering us on and is ever proud of us.