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Connor Harkin opens a modern menswear store in Ennis, hoping his unique offering will stir up the local retail scene.

AT JUST 25 years old, Connor Harkin now counts himself among the new crop of entrepreneurs that has emerged in Clare over the last 18 months. Last Friday the doors opened at his new menswear store Truth, located on High Street in Ennis.

Inspired by high street stores on London’s Oxford Street, the clean-cut layout and open spaces on the shop floor at Truth are certainly a departure from the norm and Connor explains that it isn’t your typical Irish menswear shop. At the core of Connor’s vision is a stylish, comfortable and convenient shopping experience coupled with regular stock arrivals which will keep the shop floor fresh. Traditional menswear stores typically receive two big deliveries a year – Spring-Summer and Autumn-Winter – but Connor expects something new on the rails every two to three weeks. And for those trying something on, extra-large fitting rooms have been built to ensure maximum comfort.

“It is a menswear store, but we’re completely going away from your traditional menswear store,” explains the Ballyea native. “We’re going to have capsule collections that will drop every two to three weeks, so every time you come into the shop there should be something new.

“The way it’s laid out, you’ll see less on the shelves here but it’s very easy to browse. It’s set up in a way that you’ll be able to walk in and see if there’s something here for you or not. You don’t need to go digging or rooting, there’s no rails scattered around the shop. You should walk in and there’ll be the right T-shirt, shirt, jumper, jeans, what have you; but if you decide a week or two later to go for another look through town, you’ll definitely find something new.

Despite his young age, Connor has almost 10 years’ experience in the men’s fashion industry and has worked in management with Club Dangan’s CD2 store. He says that customer habits are beginning to change with many people fed up of your ‘fast fashion’ stores – “stuff that doesn’t last that goes in the bin after three or four wears”.

“So what I’m trying to achieve is a shopping experience that people want; it’s fresh, it’s new, it’s laid out in a very attractive way but they want something that lasts and they don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for it. So Truth will be set up in a way that will be a nice shopping experience for everyone and there’ll be something fresh and you can guarantee that it’s going to last and you’ll get a few years wear out of it. That was majorly taken into consideration.”

Most age groups are catered for at Truth while he will stock fashionable high street style along with athletic apparel. “I have dedicated a good amount of space to the athletic fella, your gym-goer or GAA fella, if he wants a T-shirt for training or swim shorts, I have one range of athletic gear called Gym King. And then everything else is clean cut – it’s what I’d describe as a mainland Europe clean-cut look, your high street London style, very clean looking,” says Conor, who says there will be a wide range of stock for the “working professional age”.

Connor admits that he’s been lucky with timing. Plans for Truth have been ongoing since the end of 2019 and the shop came close to launching just before the pandemic brought the local economy to a screeching halt. So despite his young age, Truth has “been a long time coming”.

“I’ve been saying since I was 17,18, 19, that I’ll start a business. I’ve looked at a few other ideas in the past and not pulled the trigger, in the end I picked something that would be a hobby to me which is menswear and I went hammer and tongs to make sure it got over the line.”

While admitting that the last few months have been full of challenges, with the help of family and friends he is now open for business.

Visit Truth on instagram at @this.is.truth.

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