It’s a conundrum Instagrammers are familiar with; being stopped mid scroll by a spectacular garment, which all too often turns out to be one-off vintage and heartbreakingly unattainable. This prevalent problem is one fashion buyers-turned-designers Henrietta Rix and Orlagh Mcclosky are lessening with their fast-rising London-based label, RIXO. Recalling ‘60s and ‘70s silhouettes, the brand’s British-made pieces have an easy LA feel, with beachy vibes switched out for everyday wearability. As the SS18 collection pops up in-store and online, we talk to its creators about vintage inspiration, hand-painted prints and London life.
How did the two of you meet?Both Orlagh and I met at university when we were studying Fashion Management at LCF. We clicked straight away and on weekends we’d head to vintage fairs (hungover or not) to find gorgeous one-off pieces. Since then we have worked and lived together in London for seven years – we’re like sisters.
Can you tell us about your creative backgrounds?I studied art and loved to paint and Orlagh did a foundation in Fashion Design but neither of us are traditionally trained. Orlagh taught herself Photoshop and has become a complete genius when it comes to creating our RIXO prints. We both have such a similar eye for what we like so it comes pretty naturally to us.Shop RIXO
How has your previous experience helped with launching your own brand?Both Orlagh and I were previously in the buying departments of bigger retailers and it gave us a great knowledge and understanding of the whole process, critical path and cycle of the product. More importantly though I feel it gave us a really clear vision of what we didn’t want to do which made us feel even more confident there was a gap in the market for RIXO and that it was achievable.
How would you describe the RIXO aesthetic?RIXO is first and foremost print and silk driven. Quality is very important to us but we want to deliver this to the customer at a fantastic and realistic price. The brand is very bohemian and feminine in nature.
Is there a RIXO girl?There is but she doesn’t have an age. We have mothers, daughters and grandmothers in RIXO. If a woman had style in her twenties she doesn’t lose it just because she is 60. She appreciates quality and isn’t afraid of prints and mixing our product into her lifestyle.
We will paint lots of different elements for hours and then make up our prints for the collection.
What makes the perfect dress?Fit is key – but a combination of a lot of elements make the perfect dress. The print, material and fit need to be spot on simultaneously. If one of these is slightly off, the dress loses its potential. We work really hard on ensuring the correct print is put into the correct shape and that the fit is always worked on. But overall, it’s a dress that a woman loves to put on and makes her feel confident.
What’s the starting point when designing a new collection?Firstly, we come up with an overall theme that we want to explore. Then we get very excited and start endless research – it might be visiting museums, researching particular periods in history, visiting vintage fairs, libraries etc. Once this is decided we focus on the prints. We will paint lots of different elements for hours and then make up our prints for the collection. Following that we work on updating shapes and creating patterns for new shapes. It’s a long process but so worth it when it all starts to come together.
How involved are you in the manufacturing of your garments?Very involved, we only have one manufacturer at RIXO which is unusual - a lot of other brands have over 20 manufactures. We have an amazing relationship with our supplier and are very close friends. We visit the factory where all the making, printing, dying, finishing, labelling and embroidery takes place.Shop now
Do materials play an important part? Where do you source yours?YES! This is SO key to us – we use a lot of 100% silk and where silk isn’t appropriate we have sourced some beautiful viscose. We want our customer to be able to wear their RIXO pieces for years, not to crumble in the wash after a few wears. You can also put our silk in your suitcase and it hardly creases at all! RIXO is perfect for taking on holiday.
What does a typical working day look like for you?It changes all the time. Orlagh and I have only just moved into our first office. RIXO was based from our living room for the first two years. We moved into our first official office in Novemeber 2017 and now feel very grown up. We are very hands on in the business and have no agents for selling the brand or press agents – we do everything in-house. We communicate with all the press and the stores that RIXO is stocked in worldwide. We might be designing, having trade meetings, setting up pop-ups, fitting garments, shooting the product for lookbooks or our website...the list is endless but no day is the same.
Where’s your base? Is it a creative space?We are based in our office which is very humble and small in Fulham. We’ve created a lovely space with pink velvet curtains and indoor palm trees. It’s really just an extension of our living room but it’s where everything RIXO takes place.
Are you influenced by your environment?Yes – we always have our eyes open and due to RIXO we travel a lot and also are endlessly hunting at fairs. When in Paris for Fashion Week we are so influenced by our surroundings but it’s the same anywhere – even just in London there is inspiration to be found everywhere.Shop now
Where do you look for inspiration?We constantly look so there isn’t one place in particular. Charity shops can be amazing (tiny towns are best), also vintage fairs and second-hand flea markets. With the internet and Instagram there is endless visibility and opportunity to research.
Liberty is the store that we have always wanted to see RIXO in. With our hand-painted prints and being a British brand we feel the Liberty customer will resonate well with our product.
Where are your go-to places in London?We are huge fans of Alfies Antique Market in Stoke Newington and dream of having a RIXO flagship one day filled with some incredible lights from there. Kempton Racecourse also has a great flea market twice a month. There is a cute little coffee shop right near our office on Wandsworth Bridge Road that is our local – BonBon. Then for shopping it has to be Liberty. There is a magical feel about the store and your edit - every time we are central we can’t not pop in!
How does it feel to be popping up in Liberty?It’s truly the best feeling and a dream come true! Liberty is the store that we have always wanted to see RIXO in. With our hand-painted prints and being a British brand we feel the Liberty customer will resonate well with our product.Shop now