If American President Barack Obama does decide to step out onto the Golf course at Lough Erne next week, one Londonderry clothing company is hoping he will wear a specially designed Irish linen shirt adorned with his ancestral crest.
Hunter Apparel fashioned the made-to-measure heavy luxury linen shirt in just a matter of hours earlier this week when they got the go-ahead from local designer Joan Ghali.
The ‘winter white’ shirt, made from material provided by Ferguson’s Irish Linen in Banbridge, features some Celtic designs as well as Obama’s family crest, representing his great-great-great-grandfather Falmouth Kearney’s heritage in Moneygall.
Managing Director of the Londonderry company Simon Hunter, said he was honoured to be able to carry on the family tradition of providing clothing gifts for American Presidents.
“My father Graham was MD when we made garments previously for Bill Clinton when he was President so I am delighted to follow in this family tradition. We received Obama’s sizes, designed the garment, created and then hand cut the pattern, and then stitched and embroidered the garment in one day. That’s what I call “fast fashion” – not too many companies can do something like that!”
The longest established clothing company in Northern Ireland specialised in uniforms, kitting out the local Health Service staff, Ambulance service and even luxury airline United Arab Emirates.
Judith Neilly from Fergusons said the company wsas thrilled to provide the material for Obama’s shirt, despite the fact they are used to fashioning royal and presidential gifts.
“The people at Fergusons have been working with both Joan Ghali and Hunters Apparel for many years,” she said. “So, when they rushed into action to create the shirt from concept, through design and manufacturing in just one day, it would have been natural for them to use the Fergusons Irish Linen that they had in stock to create the best of the best for such an important man.”
Mr Hunter, who was recently recognised by the Institute of Directors for his family business work, said he hoped President Obama may write a letter of thanks for the shirt at some point, and added that it will be framed and hung alongside the letter from Presdietn Clinton.
It remains to be seen if Putin, Merkel and co take to the course in Fermanagh during the G8, but if they do Mr Hunter said the heavier linen in President Obama’s shirt is warmer, meaning it might just provide him with the extra layer he needs if the Fermanagh weather turns nippy.