Henrietta Rix and Orlagh McClosky need no introduction. Their brand RIXO has only been going just over two years, yet their names get dropped just as often, if not more, than veteran designers amongst the fashion crowd.
Their story goes a bit like this: the friends went to the London College of Fashion together, were buyers at ASOS before spotting a gap in the market for vintage-inspired designs at a reasonable price. Fast forward a little and their feminine silk blouses, skirts and dresses are a go-to for celebs like Kylie Minogue and Margot Robbie, have a cult following on Instagram and have been picked up by the likes of Liberty and Net-A-Porter.
Suffice to say they’ve re-ignited our love for prints. Henrietta very kindly took a pause from taking over the world to talk us through the brand’s upcoming projects.
What was the inspiration behind Rixo?
RIXO is very much based on Orlagh and myself’s personal style and vintage pieces that we love. Inspiration for our collections comes form vintage fairs and flea markets that we go to – we are always on the hunt! Charity shops are also amazing to find great pieces. The inspiration for RIXO is quite bohemian and we love the 70s. Most importantly for us though is that we want to ensure we create shapes that flatter the woman’s body and use great quality materials. We are obsessed with our own personal silk vintage Ossie Clark and Celia Birtwell dresses.
Your designs are very vintage-inspired, yet modern and wearable. How do you hit that balance?
It is a mixture of elements – firstly the print is key and it is also crucial that the correct print is put onto the correct shape. Not all prints suit all shapes so it’s getting the balance just right. The scale and colour of the print also has a huge impact on making sure each RIXO pieces has a modern appeal while still being vintage inspired. Then there is the material used… this is also key to ensure RIXO garment are wearable and flattering when worn. All three elements need to come together to make the perfectly vintage-inspired, yet modern and wearable piece.
You were one of the first ‘mid-range designers’ alongside STAUD and Ganni that are championing affordable luxury. How did you go about setting prices?
Pricing of RIXO is fundamental to us. We are constantly told that we could get double for our silk printed dresses – however we feel strongly about creating a product that is true value for money. We don’t have any investors and a benefit of that is that we don’t have margins to hit and we can be more flexible in following a path that we truly believe in and will pay off in the long run. We simply want to create something that girls our age could also afford and save up for and get something really special. It’s such a shame when as a fashion fan and customer you fall in love with something but you know it is completely out of your reach and unattainable. We want RIXO to be affordable and reasonable.
Many people don’t know that you are a small company. What does a typical day look like for you?
RIXO couldn’t be more hands on – we set up what we call ‘our baby’ from our living room and for the first two years only had one employee help us. When it comes to wholesale sales (to our retailers such as Selfridges, Net-a-Porter, Harvey Nichols) we do all this ourselves, press is something we are very keen to also keep in house, design and pretty much everything else RIXO.
We don’t really have a typical day – we are still a very reactive company and find it hard to say no to any opportunity. Weekends haven’t really existed for a long time – this weekend just gone we moved all our stock into a new office space… But every day is very different, it can be setting up a pop-up shop, meeting with our retailers about new in-store concept, painting and creating new designs, range building collections, critical path meetings with our supplier, finance meetings (tackling the more boring elements of running your own business such as VAT), press appointments, styling and shooting the product, sending our new collections to retailers worldwide… No rest for the wicked ha!
How long does it take from concept to retail?
It’s a long process with many stages – we are still getting our heads around it, but at the moment we are working on SS19 so almost a year… someone once said to us there is no industry like the fashion industry for wishing your time away and it’s so true. It’s hard to be in the present as you always have to be looking ahead and planning a year in advance or even more!
What was the inspiration for your latest collection?
SS18, which is available now is very much ‘Under the Sea’ inspired – we spent hours painting, sketching and creating beautiful sea life elements – think coral, seahorses, crabs. Shells have been scaled up to create our aquamarine psychedelic shell print and as always we haven’t been afraid of colour so you will see vivid coral colours starfish immersed onto black and pink. Then for AW18 we have complete U-turn and our collections for winter are inspired by Disco and Studio 54 – it is heavily party-influenced and there are some fabulous sequin numbers!
You’ve had celebs like Kylie Minogue and Pandora Sykes wearing your designs, who else would you love see in them?
We recently had Margot Robbie in RIXO so that was a pinch-me moment. Personally, Kate Moss, I’d love to see her in RIXO, we are big fan girls of her as she just pulls off effortless style so naturally. In all honestly though it means more to us to see a random girl in the street wearing RIXO – as we know she has parted with her own money and that is one of the best things to see and is still pretty unreal to us.
You’ve been credited for making us fall in love with print again, and for highly Instagrammable dresses. Was the Insta following quite organic?
Completely organic and I think our naivety has worked in our favour, we have no marketing plan or social strategy (I wish we were that organised!) we literally make it up daily and I post an image I like… there is no science to the RIXO IG and we will keep it this way no matter how big the brand gowns. I think it is so important to have a natural communication with your audience and really be truthful with all your followers.
What’s next for Rixo?
Ahh – so much! We are launching in Harrods very soon which is a dream come true for us. We also are introducing accessories so you will be able to shop this full RIXO look – think bags, belts, jewellery, swimwear etc.… we are really focusing on increasing our categories. We have a very exciting collaboration with Laura Jackson that we will be unveiling during fashion week in September in London at our own and first LFW personation…. A busy few months ahead.