London-based RIXO is no stranger to ShopBAZAAR. We’ve been smitten with the line’s vintage-inspired pieces since day one and continuously collaborated with co-founders (and BFFs), Henrietta Rix and Orlagh McCloskey, for exclusives and amazing features. With a growing list of devoted followers that include editors, influencers and celebs, this is the buzzy brand you need to add to your closet if you haven’t already. We talked to RIXO about their beginnings, the ShopBAZAAR Heroand what’s next.
Describe the beginnings of the brand.
Orlagh: We met at university—we were both studying at London College of Fashion in the same Fashion Management course. We bonded over our shared love of vintage and became best friends straight away.
Henrietta: We’d scour charity shops and vintage fairs together all over London, parts of the UK, and even abroad (whenever we went on holiday together) hunting for vintage treasures—we still make time to fit this in now! Whenever 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.
Orlagh: 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 for RIXO on weekends and evenings—every spare minute we had that we weren’t working at our other jobs! Eventually we quit our jobs and RIXO was launched from our university house in September 2015.
Henrietta: 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!
We really believed in what RIXO could become and felt there was a real gap in the market for vintage-inspired pieces at a contemporary price-point. It was important to us to design really beautiful yet easy-to-wear pieces that women feel empowered and their best in. We wanted to create clothes that really represented us and our style and filled genuine gaps in our own wardrobe; pieces we knew we would wear and could see others close to us in too no matter their age, whether friends, sisters, mums. The brand name, RIXO, is a combination of both of our names: “RIX” is taken from my surname and the “O” is from Orlagh’s name.
Orlagh: We don’t design for one particular type of woman and we don’t follow trends. We want RIXO items to stand the test of time: “future vintage.” We also want 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.
Inspiration behind the collection?
Henrietta: Our Resort 2019 collection is called Romance in Rebellion. Original hand-painted prints in bold primary colours are played off against muted monochrome and pastel hues—think abstract florals juxtaposed against striking tiger stripes! Romantic and flattering feminine shapes with fluted sleeves, ruffles and wrap detailing are contrasted against bright animal prints and opposing patchwork print styles. You can find flowing silks, all-over sequins and metallic lamé spots on chiffon in this collection—there is a party piece for all. Within this collection, we also launched swim and beachwear—we can’t wait for our customers to wear these on their next holidays!
What makes the ShopBAZAAR Hero piece so special?
Orlagh: The Hero piece, our Coleen dress, is one of my favourites! The shape is really flattering to wear, with ruffles in all the right places, and the Diana floral print, inspired by Princess Diana, was a labour of love that I hand-painted.
RIXO dress, $400, shopbazaar.com
Style tips for wearing the ShopBAZAAR Hero?
Henrietta: Our Coleen dress is a really versatile transitional piece, no matter the season or time of day. Wear it casually in the winter months with trainers or boots and layered with an oversized knit jumper on top. For evening or a special occasion, remove your jumper and throw on a pair of heels to dress it up. Due to the lightweight silk fabric, worn on its own with flats or sandals, our Coleen dress will see you right through the warmer months too or if you’re heading to a sunnier climate to escape the cold!
In the past few years, RIXO has gained a huge following with editors, celebs and influencers making the brand their go-to—what do you think is the main reason for this?
Orlagh: It’s a mixture of design, quality, and price-point all amalgamated together. All of our pieces are high-quality and mostly 100% silk and our prints are all hand-painted, so that also gives us a really strong, personal brand identity that people recognise. I design every print and so, because it’s always my hand and my handwriting, it will always look like a RIXO piece. Our shapes are also flattering and very unique to us. Additionally, we don’t have investors; RIXO is self-funded by both Henrietta and I. Therefore, unlike other brands we don’t work to a certain margin for pricing. We work backwards, looking first at what we think the true value of something is and what we would be happy to pay for it ourselves as a customer.
Henrietta: We feel so passionately about not being greedy and ensuring it’s the end customer that gets the true value for money! Instagram has also played a part in our growth and ability to reach new global audiences. It’s something we have handled personally from the beginning—it has all been very organic. Since we launched our Instagram I’ve manage it entirely and I think part of the success is because it’s our own personal stream of thought and no one else is posting, commenting or replying on our behalf. I try to reply to all of our DMs or comments and also proactively like and comment on posts of people wearing RIXO who have used our #HumansOfRIXO hashtag. Our account is really inclusive, personal, and natural; we’re not trying to be something we’re not or alienate a certain customer—I think people connect with that.
Biggest hurdle you had to overcome to make your business work?
Henrietta: We are completely self-funded and hopefully as two young, determined hard working women, we can keep it that way. We feel really passionate about business as well as design and growing RIXO ourselves, without investors, in an organic manor. 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.
Orlagh: 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.
How do you see your brand growing/evolving?
Henrietta: We’re expanding into new categories so people can shop the whole RIXO look. We just launched swim and beach cover-ups and in February we launch our first accessories category, including handbags, belts, jewellery, neck scarves, and hair accessories. Eventually our goal is to make RIXO a complete lifestyle brand.
Orlagh: The new categories are in response to the demand from our customers. We’d style up RIXO ready-to-wear pieces on rixo.co.uk with our own vintage accessories and we always had customers asking to buy the full looks—sometimes we’d end up selling or loaning out our own vintage belts and bags to customers who were coveting them.
Powerful advice your received?
Henrietta: Be willing to put the brand above everything else. We gave up our twenties for RIXO and there’s no sign of slowing down. You have to be completely immersed and passionate about your brand, otherwise the long hours and sacrifices you have to make will get the better of you.
Orlagh: Follow your gut! We’ve made lots of decisions in the past based on what we felt was right for the brand, against what sometimes was advised by others who perhaps had more experience than us. No one knows your brand better than you!
How do wind down at the end of the day after running your brand?
Henrietta: We live together so we live, eat, and breathe RIXO. To switch off, I like to go to spin classes and Orlagh likes to go running.
5 words that describe the RIXO customer?
Henrietta: It’s impossible to describe our customers in just five words because we don’t have one specific type! RIXO is made to be worn by all women, no matter age, size, shape, nationality…We want women to get enjoyment out of wearing the brand and know that they can count on their RIXO piece time and time again! Our customer could be a young professional in her twenties, her mother and equally her grandmother. We’ve had lovely messages from customers in the past in which all generations who all three are fans of RIXO and wear the brand. We really believe that a woman’s style is eternal no matter her age!
Henrietta: In February we are launching an accessories collection for the first time within our Spring/ Summer 2019 collection. Our SS19 accessories, like ready-to-wear, are vintage inspired and feature our hand-painted prints. There’s bold printed scrunchies, decorative chain belts with shell detailing, Napa leather and printed bags with chain bracelet handles and shell closures, as well as decadent ‘80s inspired costume jewellery (the bigger the better!).
Orlagh: Our upcoming SS19 collection ‘Love Over Gold’, a nod to Princess Diana’s favourite Dire Straits album, is inspired by our favourite ‘80s icons—Princess Diana, Jerry Hall, Brooke Shields, Madonna… We created pieces that we could imagine those icons wearing back in their heyday, but with a contemporary twist. From Jerry Hall supermodel glam pieces with sweetheart neckline and clashing prints, to demurer Princess Diana inspired co-ords, silk midi skirts, and midi day dresses with high necklines and balloon sleeves. It’s exciting because there’s a wider variation of shapes and prints in this collection—maxi polka dots, pastel tone animal prints, abstract florals, multi-coloured houndstooth and ‘80s style chain print. Plus, it’s the first time we’ll be launching RIXO accessories!