If there were ever a label that epitomised what beautiful, sustainable fashion should look like, it would be British premium womenswear brand RIXO. RIXO not only aims to empower its wearers with its complementary silhouettes combined with relaxed femininity, but its aesthetic is beautifully flattering across all age ranges and seamlessly workable from day to night. Such versatility creates a seasonless appeal, reflecting the considerations of those who wear it, their passion for timeless clothes that celebrate their individuality while respecting the planet.
Interview by Brian James and Leigh Maynard.
Started by two student friends, Henrietta Rix and Orlagh McCloskey, in a London living room in 2015, RIXO began over a shared love of vintage that underpins the label's ethos and aesthetic. To this day, the close friends are impassioned by the thrill of finding a vintage treasure scouring flea markets the world over; they describe themselves as borderline hoarders. Their bond is an unusual one that runs deep. Not only do they work closely, but they lived together for the first five years of Rixo's inception, starting without any external investment, just a passion for great design. This decision to work independently of investors ultimately gives Henrietta and Orlagh the freedom to design quality pieces that maintain the brand's vision regardless of financial targets and constraints.
The friends and colleagues’ skillsets perfectly complement one another as Orlagh leads the design department with a passion for silhouettes that celebrate the form of each wearer. At the same time, Henrietta is responsible for the brand story, growing their community through strong socials and styling that honour Orlagh's designs.
This season geometric patterns, sequins and velvets complemented the unique prints that are a signature of RIXO. For Fall Winter 2022 the duo developed their own silk and metallic jacquard fabrics with key party pieces featuring sustainably sourced feathers, glitters, and sequins, along with a new shoe collection to complete the look. The duo aims to inspire their wearers to add their personality to the pieces but ultimately to walk with confidence, to be the best version of themselves in clothes that not only fit perfectly but are fit for any occasion. With a collection that ranges from sizes 6-24 they value empowerment and inclusivity highly as well as forging a strong sense of community though their #humansofrixo hashtag, where they encourage their customers to share their looks.
RIXO also have a deep respect for the days of traditional craftsmanship and local artisans. They carefully choose their supply regions for their yield of quality natural fibres, with an eye on ethical production. Garments crafted in China, India, and Italy support and celebrate their 'family' of producers known for their singular skills, ensuring fair wages and treatment. Henrietta and Orlagh forge strong relationships with their international workforce to create pieces that are not only of exceptional quality but that are produced in limited numbers to maintain an element of uniqueness. This is what sets them apart from so many of their contemporaries.
We spoke to the duo as they prepared to show their latest collection at London Fashion Week. This season they have one special guest amongst the press and photographers, the landlord at the Baron's Court flat where it all started. We asked them about their design process, the timeless quality crucial to their designs and how they see the brand evolving in the coming months.
Congratulations on your Fall Winter 2022 collection and presentation entitled " The Golden Age" which we absolutely loved. The collection was imbued with that quintessential RIXO DNA but also showed a brand continuing to evolve and grow. What was the inspiration behind this collection?
We were inspired by the opulence and glamour depicted on the Hollywood movie screens during the 1930’s. We found vintage screen prints that we used for inspiration to design our signature hand-painted prints and also wanted to create a collection that people can go out and have a good time in, as well as having pieces perfect for every day.
How important when designing the collection was it to remain true to the aesthetic that is synonymous with RIXO while exploring your own creative development as designers?
So important. RIXO was born from a shared love of vintage, and this has run true in every collection we’ve designed from the beginning. We have of course both learnt so much since designing our first collection and we genuinely have been able to develop creatively as well as keeping true to the RIXO aesthetic.
The presentation channels the chandeliers and champagne towers glamour of 1930s Hollywood and was staged in the magnificent Goldsmiths Hall. How important was it to find a location that matched the opulent splendour of the story that you wanted to share with us?
The location is always key when we are hosting a LFW presentation – we always use the collection mood board to start the initial venue brainstorming with our events manager, and then go from there. It’s integral to find a location that amplifies our collections during the presentation.
As we return to some semblance of pre-pandemic normality do you feel that society is ready for the type of unadulterated escapism that characterized 1930s Hollywood?
We think society is ready to go out and have a good time with their friends and loved ones – we saw a real demand for occasion the winter just gone, so we’re only expecting this to be even higher as we enter into a winter period, with hopefully no restrictions!
How would you like the woman who wears a piece from your Fall Winter 2022 collection, or any RIXO garment, to feel when they wear one of your creations?
We want all women that wear RIXO to feel amazing and empowered whilst wearing the brand, it’s the most important thing for us.
Celebrities such as Holly Willoughby and Kylie have worn your clothes. While that must be hugely satisfying, how rewarding is it to see women who are not public figures investing in one of your pieces?
We always say that we’re most excited to see our #humansofrixo community wear our pieces, it’s why we created the tag on Instagram and it’s always such a proud moment when we flick through all the posts we’ve been tagged in each morning.
As a brand that isn't defined by trends how important to you is it that your garments have both a timeless quality and an intergenerational appeal?
Really important. We want to create collections that don’t go ‘out of fashion’ after a few years, we want people to share their RIXO pieces with their friends and families and pass them on to their daughters.
Working as a duo, how does your day-to-day creative design process work and in the wider business sense do you take responsibility for different elements of RIXO?
Orlagh: I am the design director, so I oversee that element, Henrietta and I then come together on the business side of things.
Henrietta: I oversee all Marketing and PR activity, as well as the business side Orlagh just mentioned.
The integrity and transparency of your supply chains is something that is integral to the RIXO ethos. What practical steps do you take to ensure workers conditions and pay are as they should be; and to minimize your carbon footprint?
We work with a small number of suppliers and have great relationships with them all. Pre-covid we would always go out and visit them and ensure that we could build a strong, trusting working relationship with them. This is integral for transparency. In terms of minimizing our carbon footprint, our relationship with our suppliers means we can work really closely with them on ways to be more sustainable as a brand.
Many saw the pandemic pause as a chance for the fashion industry to reset but many now feel there is a return to 2019 style business as usual. As the industry navigates a new normal how confident are you that it can take tangible action to improve on its unenviable position as the world's fourth largest polluter?
We think everyone is so much more conscious on being sustainable – whether that’s businesses or consumers. At RIXO we create pieces that are designed to last a lifetime, and we really feel that customers are looking for that now, rather than a dress you wear once and then throw away.
We understand that you bonded at UAL over a mutual love of vintage. What is the one vintage piece that you each cherish the most?
Henrietta: Mine is probably the vintage Gucci bag I found a few years ago, it’s been with me everywhere I go since!
Orlagh: I couldn’t pick one, but mine would be my collection of vintage jewellery that I’ve been adding to over the years. We actually used the pieces in the show!
2022 looks like it is going to be a year of further growth and evolution for RIXO. What are your ambitions and aspirations for the brand for this year?
As a brand we’re really focusing on our core product, and how to make it the best it can be. We’ve expanded a lot recently and gone into a few new categories [denim, swim] so now it’s about perfecting each of those and giving our RIXO customer amazing pieces!
What strikes us about RIXO is their deep respect for old treasures, not just the ones they find in flea markets and antique shops but long-established skills and working practices that reflect in everything they do. From the quality of the materials to the artistry, the RIXO look details modern elements whilst celebrating qualities from times past. A time when artisanal craftsmanship was celebrated, and people worked together as part of a small and closely-knit, respected community that cared deeply for each other and the garments they produced. It echoes a world prior to mass production, a time when we also respected our environment. Whilst many clothing brands speak of sustainability, we are still seeing fashion return to a place that chases seasons and trends. However, RIXO’s love of past treasures infuses the brand with a richness and quality that is hard to emulate in today’s industry. While we all love to look eagerly forward and embrace modernity, sometimes it is good to re-evaluate and learn from what went before. And RIXO masterfully does both.
You can find out more about RIXO and their latest collection on their website here: https://rixo.co.uk and their Instagram @rixo
Thanks to Orlagh and Henrietta for taking the time to speak to us and also to Georgia and Isadora.