Fashion

In Conversation with RIXO | Henrietta Rix and Orlagh McCloskey

If your love of vintage runs as deep as Henrietta Rix and Orlagh McCloskey‘s does, then RIXO should be your new obsession, if it isn’t already of course. From their powerful prints to their 60’s and 70’s inspired shapes, signature RIXO dresses are in the wardrobes of every cool girl. All RIXO clothing is designed for longevity and with fun feminine style at it’s core. We sat down with the pair behind the brand for the inside scoop on all that is RIXO from ethical responsibility to the influences behind their immersive Fashion Week presentations.

Orlagh and Henrietta RIXO

#1 How has life changed since the launch of RIXO five years ago? 

Orlagh: When we started RIXO in September 2015 it was just Henrietta and I for the first two or so years running the entire business from our university living room. We had absolutely no personal lives and completely gave up our twenties for RIXO – we were determined to make it a success. We were selling our pieces on rixo.co.uk or inviting people into our home to shop and try on. We were working day and night doing absolutely everything ourselves – from designing the collection, marketing and social media to running the e-commerce, packing and posting any orders that came through it. Since then we’ve been picked up by over 140 global stockists, have organically grown our Instagram to 255k followers, had many successful pop up stores, grown a team of nearly 30 people, secured a head office in Fulham and warehouse on the outskirts of London.

Henrietta: We have an amazing team and it’s a huge responsibility that we take very seriously since we’re accountable for these people and their livelihood. We personally interviewed every single person who has joined the company and are so proud of each and every one of them! Our team spans marketing, buying & design, data analysis & business insights, e-commerce, merchandising, wholesale and finance. We feel so honoured to be working alongside such talented people who are as passionate as we are about the RIXO journey. Although some things have changed the reason why we launched RIXO is still the same– we want to empower women to feel the best version of themselves!

#2 Has the inspiration behind your designs changed?

Orlagh: The inspiration for our collections has always stemmed from many different places- our favourite icons, vintage, travel, art… Our eyes are always open! Our recent collection is inspired by Gustav Klimt’s famous painting entitled ‘The Kiss’. Whereas, the late 1960s Woodstock festival and Joni Mitchell very much inspired our new Spring/ Summer collection.

#3 What’s your favourite piece from the collection of RIXO at Coggles?

Henrietta: The Zadie dress is my favourite. I have it in three different prints including the new Spring/Summer style and that’s all I’ve worn at the moment. It’s so easy to throw on, as well as being really flattering and comfortable – I feel great in it!

Orlagh: I love our tiered floatier styles like our Pip or Brooke dresses!

#4 Where do you see RIXO going in the next five years?

Henrietta: We’re really passionate about developing a global community of #HumansofRIXO, inspiring and empowering real women around the world through their wardrobe. Our #HumansOfRIXO, our customers, are at the heart of everything we do!

We’ll also be expanding into new collections– we’re launching a hair accessories collection in April, as well as a limited capsule collection of sustainably made ready-to-wear pieces created from off cuts and recycled fabric later in the year as well as continuing to expand into new categories like Sleepwear.

We know that shopping in a physical space is still really important for our customers to see and understand the RIXO story. We’d love to launch a flagship store in the long-term, but at the moment we’re focusing on our physical pop-ups. Our latest of which is a vintage 60’s Routemaster RIXO bus, which will be a roaming pop-up shop and will be travelling the UK and abroad stopping at key cities and events later this year. We aim to surprise and delight customers with this new pop up – we might even turn up on the doorstep of some of our lucky customers to personally deliver their order. That will be our next big milestone – taking RIXO on the road!

Internally, we’ll be doing lots of work re-platforming our website, investing in new stock & finance systems, as well as continuing to grow our team and hopefully move to a new office!

@rixo

@rixo

#5 Where are RIXO clothes made? 

Orlagh: We source our fabric in regions in China & India that are known for being great areas for the best quality natural fibers and artisanal craftsmanship, such as embroidery and printing techniques. In an effort to reduce our carbon footprint we then produce our pieces in the same area where we source the fabrics and components. We don’t believe in flying fabrics or components all over the world, affecting carbon footprint before the piece is even created. We think this type of low impact manufacturing should be the logical approach for all brands in today’s climate.

Henrietta: Our overall brand DNA right from the very beginning hinged around the timelessness of pieces and the cyclicality of them. We have never designed with specific trends or seasons in mind, as we want RIXO pieces to still feel relevant whether our customers wear now or in ten years’ time. We encourage our customers not to impulse buy and instead invest in pieces they genuinely love and will re-wear. We want our pieces to be something that our customers want to wear over and over again and pass down to their daughters and even granddaughters – future vintage! We see the idea of throwaway fashion completely alien.

Our collections are all made up of limited styles – when they’re gone, they’re gone! And our direct channels, our e-commerce and pop up, don’t go into typical sales – we don’t produce for a sale season or overconsumption. We also aim to be as transparent as possible with our customers and educate them across our social channels about our supply chain – where our pieces and made and the amazing people behind them at our supplier factories. Later this year we’ll also be launching a completely limited and special sustainable collection for our customers made from offcuts and recycled printed fabrics, with some pieces being only 1 of 5.

Monikh dale and family - RIXO campaign

#6 Why does the brand choose to host presentations over runway shows at Fashion Week? 

Orlagh: Having a presentation over a catwalk means we can invite our customer community to attend – we want them to feel equally as special as the press and influencers who come to our shows. A presentation format also allows our shows to be more personal and immersive. It’s not seated so in that two-hour slot people have time to really take in the collection – they can walk around, socialise and experience it at all angles. More importantly, it also means Henrietta and I can be out front speaking to everyone and getting feedback from both press and customers. For our presentation last September we put on our very own RIXO festival complete with music acts, food & drink stands and chill out areas covered in Persian rugs. For our most recent presentation in February, we took over the ballroom of the Kimpton Fitzroy to show our RIXO x House of Christian Lacroix collaboration. Models swayed to the sounds of a harpist and a live Octet, while attendees enjoyed Marie Antoinette inspired mountains of sweet treat, rose wine and gin cocktails.

@RIXO SS20 SHOW

@RIXO

#7 Can you tell us about your choice of models when casting for RIXO presentations?

Henrietta: We’ve always championed a diverse representation of women from the very beginning of RIXO – our first ever Lookbook in 2015 featured both a beautiful more mature grey-haired lady alongside a younger woman. Since our very first LFW presentation in September 2018 and onwards, we have also shown a diverse casting of women we’ve scouted on the street, friends of the brand, #HumansofRIXO who have supported us right from the beginning such as Monikh Dale and even genuine RIXO customers. We feel passionately that RIXO is made for all women regardless of age, body shape, size, nationality, fashion knowledge… The RIXO woman could be a woman in her twenties, her mother or equally her grandmother (or even all three!). We’ve had lovely messages from customers in the past in which all three generations in the family are fans of RIXO. We really believe that a woman’s style is eternal no matter her age.

#8 How important are influencers?

Henrietta: We started using #humansofrixo really organically when we launched as a way for anyone – whether customers, influencers or celebrities – to show us how they wear their RIXO pieces in their own way across the globe.

It has allowed us to grow an engaged global community and showcase women of all ages, shapes and countries wearing RIXO in their own way. It’s also really helped us understand our customers and gives us great insight when we are designing our collections for them – what they like or don’t like, what styles suit their shapes best as well as how, when and where they wear RIXO. As much as we repost celebrity or influencers in RIXO, we love reposting images of our amazing customers in our pieces to give others ideas of how to wear. For us it’s not about the person or content being picture perfect, it has to be real and relatable. Our hope is equally that our #iconsofrixo will also amplify this and the work we are doing to educate, inspire and empower our followers.

@rixo Monik Dale

@rixo

#9 Can you tell us a bit about your Icons of Rixo initiative which you launched on International Women’s Day?

Henrietta: #iconsofrixo is our first ever global ambassador programme – the aim is for a diverse range of heroes, of all ages, to champion the brand in their own communities around the world. We want to find a new wave of pioneers, who love RIXO, are known for their unique style and use their voice for good in their own community. We weren’t looking at how many Instagram followers they had, but more so that they embody one of our key values – they inspire and empower others. We revealed our #iconsofrixo on International Women’s day (8th March) – it was a perfect day to honour the amazing women we had chosen. Our #iconsofrixo will be regularly gifted pieces and have first access to collections, as well as being championed across our website, email and Instagram channel and receive special invites to RIXO events. Each also has a unique discount code that is used for their community only. They also are the first in the know about new initiatives, such as our sustainably focused collection, created from off cuts and recycled fabrics, which will launch later this year. We want them to be as informed as our Head Office is!

We put an application form live on our website in January 2020 and received over 800 applications – anyone could apply to #iconsofrixo. What was important for us to know within their application was not only what style means to them, but who they are as a person and what they are actually doing within their local community, as well as what charities or causes they feel passionately about and advocate for. Their follower count didn’t even come into consideration! After reviewing all applicants, we launched our #iconsofrixo with eight amazing diverse women from all over the world – from London, NYC and Sydney to Johannesburg, Oslo and LA.

@_mounatraore rixo

@_mounatraore

What makes our #iconsofrixo special is completely unique to each woman we chose. Sophia Li is adamant about the survival and perseverance of Mother Nature, Julia Rebaudo champions ageless dressing and animal conservation and Sophie Edwards aims to empower women of all shapes and sizes feel great. Meanwhile, Emilia Musacchia advocates buying second hand and lifetime pieces, Mouna Traore is passionate about mentoring youth and Nenna Echem works in the health service and advocates for sick cell disease alongside contributing to ELLE Norway. Finally, Lisa Seskin is a young female entrepreneur and Kelsey Marie is passionate about literacy and gaining people more access to books and reading.

SHOP ALL RIXO >>>

Words by Emma Bowkett

Interview with Henrietta Rix and Orlagh McCloskey



Emma Bowkett

Emma Bowkett

Writer and expert