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These Newfoundland raincoats are in Vogue

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Born out of frustrations with a classic Newfoundland problem -- rain, sleet and snow that seems to come from every direction -- Maria Halfyard’s extra-long raincoats are making waves on another rainy island.

Her fashion brand, mernini, is getting a shoutout in December’s edition of the U.K.’s Vogue Magazine, in its Designer Profile.

"They have it in the mail and they sent me three copies," Halfyard said. "I’ve got 10 others coming from another contact of mine that just went to a store in London to buy a bunch."

"I’m going to frame it, give some to my family."

Halfyard said the British magazine initially approached her, after seeing some of her colorful pieces and photos on social media.

According to the writers of Vogue Magazine, Halfyard’s mernini brand "blends traditional lines with modern detail to create exquisite pieces."

Maria Halfyard placed her first coats in the Twisted Sisters Boutik in downtown St. John’s, where she and her family had been long-time customers. (Credit: Garrett Barry / CTV News)

Magazine staff wrote, "mernini embodies the resiliency of its people and the colourful vignettes of its environment."

It’s high praise for a fashion designer who balances her upcoming brand with a full-time job in business research and development.

Halfyard keeps a pretty simple fashion lineup: Her brand sells a full-length, 48-inch-long coat, a "petite" 42-inch-long coat, and one type of vest.

The designer said she was inspired by rain gear worn by Newfoundland and Labrador fish harvesters.

"You know, we have some of the … harshest weather in the Atlantic," she said. "And what they wear is probably the best rain gear out there."

Maria Halfyard says her designs draw from the colours and environment of Newfoundland and Labrador. (Credit: mernini)

And much like the homes of Gower Street, Queens Road and Duckworth Street, she offers a plethora of colours.

"You don’t want to be dull on a gray day, so I always say if you want to blend in around here, you’ve got to stand out."

Halfyard said she’s been working on her coats for the better part of a decade, finally launching them around the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Her first retail deal involved a bit of good luck: she was walking into a downtown St. John’s store when one of the owners took notice of her coat.

"Long story short, I told her, well when you create them, we want to have them here," said Jaclyn Gruchy, who owns Twister Sisters Boutik in downtown St. John’s, alongside her sister and business partner.

Jaclyn Gruchy is one part of the Twisted Sisters Boutik in downtown St. John’s, a store she runs with her sister. It’s one of the stores in the city where you can buy a mernini coat. (Credit: Garrett Barry / CTV News)

"Some people are purchasing them because they’re in and out of work all day, appointments and things, and then others are purchasing them for walking their large dogs," she said. "It’s an interesting mix."

Now that mernini’s gotten a bit of exposure, Halfyard said it will soon be time to push into other markets with similar types of weather — Scotland and Norway for example.

"This was kind of before I intended, but it could be a catalyst for going international."

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