When the hugely successful designers behind London-based label RIXO walked into the GRAZIA Australia office, it caused an untypical stir.
Not because our team were already die-hard fans, or because we knew Margot Robbie, Sandra Bullock, Poppy Delavigne, Ashley Graham, Kylie Minogue and a host of A-list stylists and fashion bloggers are amongst the brand’s growing legion of fans – although both of those points are true. Not even because they seemed as excited about the office visit as we were having them during their recent trip to Sydney as guests of Net-a-Porter.
Rather, we were taken aback by how youthful the pair is, particularly given the dizzying heights their fledgling label has flown to so quickly.
Henrietta Rix and Orlagh McClosky, who co-founded RIXO in late 2015 after spotting a gap in the market for vintage-inspired pieces that they could afford, look more like identical sisters than business partners, which is funny, given one of them has a real twin of her own.
They live together, travel together, and could (read: probably do) raid one another’s wardrobes given their shared luxe-bohemian aesthetic. (On today’s visit, for example, they’re both wearing clashing animal prints, glitter fabrics and florals from their own label, with layered jewellery that includes matching shell necklaces by Wald Berlin. “We share everything,” Henrietta later told me.)
Even the name of their label is a mash-up of their two personas: Rix’s surname and the O for Orlagh.
The pair, who met at the London College of Fashion then worked as buyers for ASOS, have fast cultivated friends and fans in the industry, which is easy to understand once you’ve spent time in their presence and listened to their creative vision.
Both are clearly well-versed in their craft, have a strong understanding of their brand aesthetic and are savvy businesswomen – all vital attributes for building a label that will last longer than a few fleeting seasons of trend-based sales.
Much like European brands Ganni and Staud, RIXO sits amongst a rare group of brands considered luxury, but at sold at non-designer prices. Little wonder their wares sell out within days of release on Net-a-Porter.
GRAZIA spoke with the designers during their visit to our offices. Note: given the pair answer one another sentences and crossed over so much with their chat, we’ve written their answers below as the one voice to save confusion.
INTERVIEW WITH RIXO’s HENRIETTA RIX AND ORLAGH MCCLOSKY
Can you give us the short version of the long story as to how RIXO came about? We met at London College of Fashion and instantly clicked over our love of vintage. We use to go to vintage fairs on the weekends and became really good friends. After college, we both worked at ASOS for a year [after college]. We always knew we wanted to start [a label] together, so in February 2015 we quit our jobs and started working with suppliers.
Is it true that Net-a-Porter’s head buyers first discovered you after other women in their office starting wearing RIXO in its early form? Where did they find it? Yes, we had a website at first and a pop-up store as well in Covent Garden in London – we were lucky the people who owned space gave us a really good deal. We just wanted to make enough money so to pay for production of our next collection.
Rixo, Tina pleated tiger print silk crepe de chine skirt, $363. SHOP NOW
How would you describe RIXO’s aesthetic in your own words? It’s quite bohemian, but probably because we focus a lot on the quality and the prints. It’s very global and very versatile: people could wear it to the airport with trainers and then wear it to a wedding. Every time we go travelling or anywhere we are actually inspired by all different cultures and I think that’s something with the brand that really resonates with our customer. It’s definitely not your traditional British heritage brand.
Does the brand suit the way you both typically dress too? It’s definitely our aesthetic – it really is. We have such an emphasis on the fit as well, in terms of like how it feels on, where the lines are, where waistband sits, where the sleeve length sits. It’s very thought out in terms being flattering and a bit different. There’s as much emphasis on it feeling nice as well as cool
What’s been your proudest career moment so far? Launching on Net-A-Porter, especially so early on as well, felt like such an achievement. You can be a really big deal to people in the fashion industry and your friends, but still almost unknown. As soon as we went live on Net-A-Porter, the penny dropped to people outside the business. We have always wanted to be international as well and that allowed us to sell internationally straight away. It was a real proud moment.
Why do you think you have gathered so many fans so quickly? It’s a mixture of things: the price point, quality and also the design, which are flattering, something different and attainable as well. I think if you took one of those points away it wouldn’t be Rixo. We are also quite personable with the brand and have communicated it to customers so they know the story behind it – that really helps.
You’ve created exclusive pieces for Net-a-Porter. How are those different? We great feedback from their buyers on what’s selling, so we know what customers want and create pieces to suit. If a piece got a really good reaction from customers, then maybe we will do that in another print. Net-a-Porter has a great hands-on team, and we liaise with them directly, not through an agent, which makes it really easy.
Who or what are you inspired by? There are loads of people from the past – we recently went to Milan on a big vintage-hunting trip. All of Gianni Versace’s old stuff is insane, and then there are the old Zandra Rhodes prints, which are so beautiful. In terms of new people as well, Richard Quinn went to our university and his prints are gorgeous. Australian label Hansel & Gretel have lovely shapes too – we love it because they look really flattering and designed for a woman.
Your label is very print heavy. What’s your best advice for combining clashing prints, as per the current trend? Mixing your prints is something RIXO is all about, so our advice is don’t be afraid to try. Always wear something comfortable that you feel yourself in. When someone is not feeling self-conscious and they are wearing something that really suits them, that’s when people actually look their best.
What’s your best advice to aspiring fashion designers? Don’t think you have to spend a fortune or get an office with all these overheads to get started. We literally worked from our living room for two years and couldn’t employ anyone so we did everything ourselves. Know your customer as well, and your unique selling point rather than emulating someone else. Then find out what’s special to your brand and stick to that. Knowing your own customer is so important too.
Rixo, Gigi tiger-print tiger print sequinned chiffon wrap dress, $700. SHOP NOW
See more of RIXO on Net-a-Porter here.