Stephen Whalley Silk

A homeland depicted in silk

As a contemporary Belfast artist I wanted to create a new exquisite silk pocket square and jacket lining range to feature some of the most scenic and recognisable places in Northern Ireland.

The inspiration to have my own collection of luxury silk customised pieces for men happened when I was having a jacket, with the unusual lining, tailored for myself. I felt the jacket and bespoke lining, as well as being incredibly smart, would appeal to stylish men here with a special affection for certain parts of the province.

I have always been interested in handmade goods since my grandfather introduced me to Belfast shoemaker the late Pat McKearnan. He supplied me with a pair of custom-made shoes every year until he passed away.

It was this lifelong interest in customisation which made me yearn for my own unique product which married my love of art with fashion.

Something completely new

After a visit to Belfast tailors, Suitor Brothers, who have been making and supplying the finest men’s suits for generations, I realised a silk pocket square would be the ideal prototype for my collection.

I noticed pocket squares were either a plain colour or featured polka dots or a Paisley design. It was an opportunity to create something completely new.

Since then I have travelled all over Ireland north and south capturing my homeland on canvas, but I also drew on my childhood, growing up in Grand Parade in East Belfast for ideas. My dad Jake Whalley, who worked as a plater in Harland & Wolff shipyard for over 45 years, had told me many stories about the famous foundry so it was only natural to paint my version of the cranes Samson and Goliath as one of the designs for the silk pocket squares.

Whalley silk
Whalley silk
The Whalley gallery

Two creative worlds

So the concept was born, a luxury fashion accessory which would feature customised paintings depicting everything from the windswept beaches of the North Coast to seaside towns and historic cityscapes.

Having run my own art gallery for 10 years and with a degree in design I have been able to combine the two creative worlds to produce beautiful customised pieces for men looking for something unique with incredible style credentials.

Original oil painted scenes are transferred seamlessly to the silk so each one is as individual as its owner. And the tailor-made pieces offer special resonance to its wearer.

The nature of the painted scene, be it the mysterious beauty of the Dark Hedges in Ballymoney to a cityscape or coastal idyll, means the pocket square can be draped in a suit jacket to complement or contrast with the particular hue of the suit, a tie or shirt.

With more men now embracing elements of heritage style, anyone can add a final flourish of colour and luxurious texture to a jacket with one of my silk pocket squares.