herald

Friday 21 September 2018

Dubliner's surf chic fashion brand riding the wave of celebrity success

Mary Harding has signed a deal to distribute her T-shirts
Mary Harding has signed a deal to distribute her T-shirts

A mum-of-two who quit busy day job to follow her love of fashion has landed a deal to sell her clothing worldwide.

By taking a chance two years ago, Mary Harding (44), from Dublin, set up Tonn Surf, a range of men's T-shirts with very little financial backing.

She now has singer and actress Rita Ora, models Gigi Hadid and Cara Delevingne wearing her work.

As a result, Avoca has now also snapped up the sports lover's clothing brand for their high-end stores nationwide.

Now Mary, who lives in Clontarf, is riding the crest of an international wave, after singing a lucrative deal with a Japanese distributor to keep up with demand across the world.

Due to this massive expansion, she has moved from a small home office to a large distribution centre and the team is expanding all the time.

LUNACY

"This new breakthrough comes after two years of keeping the head down and plugging away. Long weeks on the road, day after night with just a dogged belief that it could work," said Mary.

"Building a brand from scratch is hard and to some it seemed a lunacy but you have to treat it like a game. It's fun and every new level you reach is worth the effort.

"Tonn's success to date has been hard fought, as small businesses in the fashion industry don't get the same funding or backing that pharma and tech companies get from the Irish Government agencies."

Having worked in New York for nearly a decade as a fashion stylist, Mary quit her busy job as a photography consultant in the department shop Brown Thomas to follow her dream.

Her clothes are inspired by the waves of the Irish Atlantic coast and Ireland's 50-year surf heritage.

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