Smock is a rather special independent boutique on Dublin’s Drury Street that is co-owend and run by friends Karen Crawford and Susan O’Connell. They came to retailing from different backgrounds; the creative Susan is a graduate of the Grafton Academy (fashion college) and the no less creative Karen had a corporate career before she teamed up with Karen to open Smock.
Their friendship long predates their business partnership as they have known each other since early childhood. Susan was best friends with Karen’s sister Audrey who lived a few doors away from the house Susan grew up in. Karen and Susan were passionate about clothes from an early age and Susan remembers she always thought Karen was beautifully dressed and how, back then, she enjoyed looking in awestruck wonder at the stylish contents of Karen’s wardrobe.
They set up the Smock eleven years ago, it was originally based in the Temple Bar area of Dublin; the shop moved to its current more central location four years ago. Now I suspect an objective examination, to find out what exactly are the necessary elements to ensure the magical alchemy which transform a retail unit from a blank canvas into a gorgeous shopping destination might come up with the following list: an aesthetically pleasing space; gorgeous stock; helpful, friendly and knowledgeable service; plus ingredient x. Smock has these element in spades. In Smock’s case the ingredient x is the warm and welcoming atmosphere that Karen and Susan have created. I go in there a lot, not always to buy, in fact most usually to browse and no pressure has ever been brought to bear to convert my browsing into a sale. This means I find Smock a comfortable place that I am happy to return to again and again – and yes naturally I do make purchases from time to time. Oh, and I nearly forgot to mention that Smock always has eye-catching window displays.
Susan explains they always wanted to do something different so over the years they have concentrated on stocking innovative items (with a heavy bias towards Belgian designers) that are invariably not available in other Dublin shops. Susan describes a typical customer as someone who ‘doesn’t want to look like everyone else and isn’t trying too hard’ and yet when people look at her in her Smock dress they know she ‘has it’. Susan feels that the secret to Smock’s success is that they sell long-life looks that will do duty for a several years and that they are also very knowledge about the shape and the cut of the clothes they sell. She says that much of what they retail lacks hanger appeal and can only be fully appreciated when worn – she loves that part of her work – helping to style someone who finds that special something that’s perfect on them and yet it is something that they initially might not have thought of wearing.
The labels that Smock currently carries include: David Szeto, A F Vandervost, APC, Jas M.B., Jata Naka, A. Détacher, Kron, Colemino, Won Hundred, and Monique Van Heist.
Note – Smock is at 31 Drury Street Dublin 2
UPDATE: Sadly Smock has closed down.