Style & ShowbizFashion

Why Conor McGregor is Ireland's top style icon for men

FashionBy Lynne Kelleher
Conor McGregor in some of his trademark sharp suits
Conor McGregor in some of his trademark sharp suits

UFC superstar Conor McGregor has been credited with turning a whole generation of young Irish men into Great Gatsby-style sharp dressers, with sales of bow ties and braces rocketing around the country.

The fighter has become the top style icon for Irish men, single-handedly making flashy three-piece suits, man buns and bow ties into the must-have accessories for regular nights on the town for teenagers and 20-somethings.

The mixed martial arts superstar has a killer combination of macho charm and old-school style, which has turned him into a phenomenon on both sides of the Atlantic.

Louis Copeland, who has dressed McGregor in custom suits since he first shot to fame, says the fighter has inspired a whole generation of young men to dress up.

“They are coming in looking for the Conor McGregor look. He is an inspiration for the young lads. They all want to look nice and trim and they wear the two-piece and three-piece fitted suit with the dickie bow. They are all following the trend.

“Conor just likes dressing up and we’ve done a lot of the suits for him.

“It’s probably the Gatsby kind of look. It’s great to see the young lads getting out of casual wear and wearing suits. We’ve really noticed it in the last six months.”

Patrick Bourke – who runs Patrick Bourke Menswear in Ennis and Kilrush in Co. Clare – says McGregor has been the single most important influence on fashion this century in Ireland.

“He’s been singularly the biggest style icon on the Irish scene in 20 years. The dickie bow is the signature, although if you are younger you call it the bow tie. It’s the neat-fitting suit, the tight-fitting waistcoats and the hair and you’d notice all the beards.

“For a long time we were considered the country bumpkins of Europe, but we’ve caught up massively. One time you could say we were three years behind the international scene, now we are not much more than three months.

“There is new generation in their late teens and early twenties and they are completely different. For the under 30 sector Conor has probably meant a 100 per cent increase in our suit trade and in the under 20s it could be 300 per cent.

“For 18th birthday and 21st birthday parties they are dressing up. The first time they are introduced to it is the debs and then there is the GAA clubs.

“We have had to get the bow ties in the club colours.”

He says young male students are also giving their female counterparts some competition when it comes to the style stakes at the races.

“Limerick has a college race day and it would be a busier day at the races than St Stephen’s Day for the general public.

“Competition is stiff at this. You won’t get a girl if you are not dressed up to the nines. This year is the peak of it.

“We are finding these guys are buying three suits in the space of two or three years. The demand has skyrocketed, but it is more affordable.

“Conor is Irish and he proclaims himself as Irish. He also favours Irish looks, he is big into the hand-woven tweed and the checks. They are his signatures.

“If he has a sudden change in his look, then the young men will change.

“His manicured look of the beard and the man bun has also taken off. The bow tie is a twenties and thirties look, but it is also an American preppy look from the Hamptons. 

“He wears bracelets and cufflinks all the time so that will be the next thing.”

Patrick says sales of bow ties and braces have soared in the last five years.

“Braces is the other thing. We sell matching braces with bow ties.  From last year the sales of braces and bow ties have increased 200 per cent and from five years ago the increase is just astronomical. 

“Bow ties can go from €15 to €90 for the more expensive silk ones, while braces are about €15 to €25.

“We would expect to sell 300 or 400 pairs of braces over the summer for braces and weddings and young guys going to debs.”