Although distinctly French sounding (I’ll explain why later!) Dubarry is a classic Irish brand. Famed for its collection of country and sailing footwear, it was initially established in in 1937 to manufacture specialist hand-stitched moccasins. The original idea behind its creation was to stem the widespread emigration that was endemic in the country at the time, by giving the local people of Ballinasloe, County Galway, dependable employment options as well as a consistent flow of income.
At first Dubarry’s business model was seasonal, and they targeted selling their range of fine leather shoes in the autumn and winter only. Their reputation for quality footwear soon spread, and it wasn’t long before the company decided that they needed to diversify from their original business plan in order to grow their business. Looking at their options, they decided to move into the sailing shoe market, as it was an area that had great potential. Not only did they have the experience at making high quality leather shoes, but County Galway was also steeped in sailing heritage.
Dubes (as they affectionately became known) soon became signature footwear for sailors, and Dubarry expanded upon their success by adding GORE-TEX® sailing boots to the range. Buoyed (yes, pun intended!) by their success they began developing a country boot collection. Yet again this decision was influenced by their locale: The oldest horse fair in Ireland still continues to be held in Ballinasloe, and this new collection was designed to be suitable for both light equestrian and general outdoorsy use.
Yet the company’s big breakthrough came thanks to their ethos of continued innovation and evolution. Not content to rest on their laurels, they decided to create a complimentary clothing, luggage and accessories range. All made using the same luxurious and hardwearing leather as the boots, with the same attention to detail and quality, customers could now clothe themselves head to toe with the brand. Each new season the company still uses this ethos to push the boundaries further, and continue to ensure their products are the best on the market.
But I bet you’re still wondering why an Irish company, who still has its head office in the small country town it was founded in almost eighty years ago, has a conspicuously French name? Well, the founders of the company wanted a name that would appeal to a European market, and one that signalled luxury and exclusivity. After extensive research, they came across the famed French courtesan Madam du Barry, who was the chief mistress of the King of France during the decadent eighteenth century. The founders thought that the combination of indulgence, quality (and sex appeal!) evoked by du Barry’s life would be perfect for their fledgling brand, and Dubarry of Ireland was born!