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Founder of indie Xile dies aged 71

Independent fashion retailer Pat O’Flaherty, founder of Xile, has died aged 71.

Born in Leith in 1947, O’Flaherty emigrated to Australia at the age of 18 where he secured a job as a miner. He later returned to Scotland, opening a shop called Rags in Stephens Street in Stockbridge, Edinburgh.

Patrick O'Flaherty

Patrick O’Flaherty

The business fourished and O’Flaherty opened the first Xile store on North Bridge in Edinburgh in 1984. The Xile brand developed a reputation as a fashion retailer with its finger on the pulse and became a go-to destination in the Scottish capital. Other stores soon followed, with branches in Waverley, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Livingston and Aberdeen added to the business.

Xile won Young Fashion Independent of the Year at the 2007 Drapers Awards. 

Speaking about O’Flaherty, Paul Mullen, managing director of Xile Clothing said: “He was a creature of habit and was well known in Edinburgh and across the industry. 

“He was an old-school retailer but was brave to take opportunities. Pat never had a mobile phone, or an email. It’s hard to be an MD of a business without either but he liked not having a mobile.”

Terry Bates, who launched G-Star into the UK in 1997, said O’Flaherty one of his first customers: ”“I launched G-Star when everybody said you won’t be able to give away unwashed denim, that’s how our relationship started.

Pat came into our showroom which was 3,”000 sq ft and he said ’I am going to be buying this, and that’s because you’re going to deliver’.

“He lost a lot of money for the first three years because it didn’t sell, and fast forward to 2007 he had 5 standalone g-star franchises

“Everytime I see hibs on the TV I think of him. He never had a mobile phone so on a Friday, if I needed to get hold of him I knew he would he having a ploughman’s and a beer with his mates.

“He said, ’if you every come to Edinburgh he said dinner is one me’, even though he was the client. He said you are on my patch I buying dinner. He was the only customer in the UK who had that outlook, and he knew when to be a hard negotiator and when to be charming.”

O’Flaherty is survived by his son Joe and daughters Erin and Cassie.

Readers' comments (2)

  • Eric Musgrave

    A sad loss. Pat was one of the Premier League menswear indies in the golden years of the late 1980s and early 1990s. It was always good to see him and the team at Pitti, Bread + Butter etc. Condolences to his family and friends.

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  • Pat really was a lovely man. It was always good to see him - he was good company and could be relied on to have an interesting perspective on business as well as life generally. My condolences to his family and friends, but also to Paul and the team at Xile. He will be missed.

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