From burritos to design: three Dubliners make their mark on the Irish urban design scene

Design is a key component to what keeps Dublin ticking and as the year of Irish Design continues The City met with a group of designers who seem to be doing everything right.

Extra Meat Apparel demonstrate that, like much of life, a career in design is about taking the initial leap.

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Conor, Jake, and Lucas are three hardworking graduates who have successfully created their first capsule collection – Extra Meat Apparel – by harnessing their love of design with their natural flare for creativity, art, urban living and food.

Jake is a multimedia graduate from DCU, Lucas is a Brazilian native and qualified history teacher, while Conor is a chef. The trio met while working part-time in a popular Burrito eatery and they realised they had the ability to create something that was sustainable, profitable and of good quality.

Established in 2014, Extra Meat Apparel is a new venture in terms of street style – a hugely evolving subculture here – and Jake, the youngest of the team, emphasised the importance of supporting young Irish design.

“It’s important to encourage and promote young creatives. We were able to achieve this without financial stability, but I think many young people with the same creative ambition and goals as Extra Meat Apparel feel restricted because of money. I believe that entrepreneurship is blossoming once more throughout Ireland, but younger people still need that extra support,” he said.

There are many programmes and scholarships available for those interested in entrepreneurship and design such as Enterprise Ireland’s ‘New Frontiers Entrepreneur Development Programme’, which offers financial and executive support for young start-ups.

Jake pointed out that if you have a passion for it, then it’s always achievable.

“Design is design – it doesn’t matter if it’s on a phone, a tablet, a 20 foot billboard, food, or clothes,” he said.

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Both Conor and Jake believe that it is their designer Lucas who is the secret ingredient that separates them from other emerging brands in Dublin. The Brazilian native specialises in intricate illustrations and uses mediums in ways they are not typically used creating unique and eye-catching designs for Extra Meat. Lucas left Brazil four years ago to pursue his passion for art and urban culture.

Upon meeting the trio it was obvious that they are very different individuals – an eclectic mix of body modification, eccentric clothing, and facial hair – but their mutual love of urban life and creativity has driven them forward. Conor explained that everything they design and work at ultimately originates from the things they collectively like doing whether it’s skating, cycling, surfing or eating.

“We are a unisex brand aimed towards people who enjoy the things we enjoy,” he said.

Quality over quantity

Once they got talking about their brand, it was clear that their emphasis lies in the quality of their product, as opposed to quantity or profit.

“Quality has been at the forefront of what we are doing from the start. We’re not skimping on quality in terms of design and fabric. It took us months to nail down designs, and took even longer to find a fabric supplier that could do the job at a high standard,” said Jake. He continued by showing his support to local business; finally setting with a reliable and local firm on the North Strand.

“We print only on high-quality printable t-shirts. We use pre-shrunk cotton that is ideal for printing, and retains its shape and fit even after washing. We are trying to be a transient as possible and not be stuck by a certain gender or size. Quality over quantity,” he said.

Creativity knows no bounds, but realising goals and bringing creativity to fruition is often restrictive financially. Extra Meat Apparel would like to see more support across all aspects of the industry either from shops, investors, grants or bursaries.

Conor, Jake, and Lucas are currently working on their next collection which can be bought via their social media platforms.

Find Extra Meat Apparel on Facebook or on Twitter.

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