Creating a fashion label and having it succeed is no easy feat, but if you're determined—and have a landlord willing to help you out—you may just be able to follow in the footsteps of RIXO.
The London-based label's many printed dresses and sequined blouses are spreading across Instagram like wildfire and if you've been wondering why that is, it's because of Henrietta Rix and Orlagh McCloskey, RIXO's founders, and their relatable vision. Since 2015, the pair have been hard at work creating a brand they love and believe should cater to every woman, no matter where they are in the world, by utilising flattering cuts and elegant materials to create their unique pieces.
We spoke to Rix and McCloskey about how they started RIXO, the brand's aesthetic and how they plan on expanding in the new year.
What was your experience before launching your label?
HENRIETTA RIX: We both studied Fashion Management at London College of Fashion and then we both worked in buying at ASOS. This experience gave us a great background into the product life cycle, however, it also made me realise quickly that passion for product is paramount, hence leaving to start RIXO.
ORLAGH MCCLOSKEY: I did a foundation art and design course first, but then decided that path wasn’t for me and moved over to the Fashion Management course at LCF, where I met Henrietta. We’re both big believers in fate—if I hadn’t have changed we might not have met and perhaps RIXO wouldn’t have existed.
How long did the process take from when you initially had the idea, until you had the finished product in hand?
OM: We had the initial idea at university after working on a project together. After that, it was only a matter of time before we set up RIXO. As soon as we graduated in 2014 we worked behind the scenes on RIXO on weekends and evenings—every spare minute we had! Eventually in February 2015, we quit our jobs and continued to work from our university house to build RIXO. We launched our first collection in September 2015.
How did RIXO start? What’s the story?
HR: We launched RIXO from our university house in 2015—our beginning was very humble. Our kitchen and bedrooms quickly become stock rooms and each month our landlord would take away more furniture to make room for more RIXO stock. It was all very organic. We’d go to the post office daily, whenever our website orders came through, and pick and pack them ourselves. It was a big risk; we quit our jobs, invested all of our own money and spent our first year or so doing absolutely everything ourselves, but we haven’t looked back. There was no plan B!
Who is the ideal person you’re designing for?
OM: We don’t design for one particular type of woman. We want our pieces to flatter any woman who wears them; cut and material are so important for this. Most of our styles are 100% silk, premium crepe fabric, or silk cotton blends. With every dress, I start the design process by firstly thinking who, where and when it might be worn, so I can envisage what I think would work best. This could be, for example, the sleeve design, strategic lining or no lining, changing the fabrication on certain panels to suit the feel when wearing. With print, it’s having the eye and natural flair for print colour and mixing that helps create the final aesthetic.
HR: Our woman could be a young professional in her twenties, her mother and equally her grandmother—we really believe that a woman’s style is eternal no matter her age.
What’s your inspiration behind the designs?
OM: We find inspiration everywhere- people, places, paintings. Our latest SS19 collection is inspired by our favourite '80s icons including Princess Diana, Jerry Hall and Brooke Shields. The name of the SS19 collection Love Over Gold is actually a nod to Princess Diana’s favourite Dire Straits album.
HR: We’re always travelling and wherever we go anywhere the first thing we do is look up where the local vintage shops and flea markets are. We get so much inspiration from different cultures and countries we visit.
What have been some of the biggest challenges in getting the brand off the ground?
HR: We are completely self-funded so when we first started RIXO in 2015 it was just Orlagh and I doing everything ourselves, right up until this past year—from launching an e-commerce website to designing and marketing to packing and sending the orders customers made on rixo.co.uk. Not having funding or help meant all the workload and decisions about the business were left completely to us, which, of course, was challenging. We had to completely give up our personal lives for a while. However, it was the best thing we could have done! Not having anyone else to answer to meant that we could be agile, make decisions quickly, create pieces that we really loved and focus on areas of the business that we knew would help drive success.
OM: In the first six months of starting the brand, it was a challenge getting people to understand the ethos of the brand without having product to show them. As soon as we had product it was easier to show them what RIXO was about.
What can we expect from RIXO in coming collections?
HR: We’re expanding into new categories so people can shop the whole RIXO look. In December, we're launching swim and cover-ups and in January 2019, we launch our first accessories category, including handbags, belts, jewellery, neck scarves and hair accessories. Eventually our goal would be to make RIXO a complete lifestyle brand.
Will you ever steer away from prints?
OM: Hand-painted prints are innate to RIXO, however sequins are also a huge part of our ranges and are increasingly popular with customers. Our sequin Coco dress from our AW18 collection sold out in a matter of days and there is always a waiting list for our sequin styles. Also, embroidery is key for us—for example our Margo dress is another of our top pieces from AW18 and a perfect party dress!
Who would you love to see wear the brand?
HR: We’d love to see Kate Moss in RIXO, our Moss blouse is named after her. However, it’s equally, if not more satisfying, seeing a random person on the street wearing RIXO. I don’t think that we’d ever not be over the moon to see this!
How has being stocked on Net-A-Porter impacted your brand?
HR: It’s been amazing! NET-A-PORTER were the first wholesaler to really believe in RIXO – they picked us up on our first wholesale market after all the girls in the London head office were wearing RIXO. We now create exclusive collections twice a year for NET-A-PORTER and have a really strong relationship with the buying team. It was so great for RIXO to be given a global audience and to be supported not just by the buying team but also their editorial and marketing teams.