Rixo’s latest dress collection is proof you can thrive in a pandemic

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  • Rixo’s new collection at the start of lockdown brought us all much needed joy in dark times, but like many other fashion brands during the pandemic, it faced some serious challenges.

    Co-founders Henrietta Rix and Orlagh McCloskey had to quickly adapt from showing their collections IRL during London Fashion Week and shooting campaigns in studios, to hosting digital presentations and lookbooks shot at home.

    Their January 2021 collection, presented in a short film at Copenhagen Fashion Week, illustrated the label’s move away from typical seasonal collections, towards delivering pieces by monthly drops in an effort to be more timely and conscious. Here, they talk me through their inspiration, and how they’ve adapted to a new fashion world.

    Henrietta Rix and Orlagh McCloskey, co-founders of RIXO

    How has the brand evolved since the pandemic?

    Orlagh: We’ve had to get really creative during the pandemic, evolving through our communication and marketing skills, showing customers how items can be styled and worn in different ways. It’s been a great way for us to educate our followers and consumers about how RIXO really is a lifestyle brand and not just for occasions. We are constantly questioning how we are going to guide our customers through this, giving them some kind of hope and happiness as much as we can! It’s so key to also speak truthfully and educate our customer on why we are doing what we are doing.

    We have had time to step back and revisit our priorities and what’s really important to us. We have focused on supporting our suppliers and building even stronger relationships, the positive impact of conscious production and ensuring considered purchasing for our customers, making us really excited and proud of our new monthly drop model, delivering more edited, smaller ranges right for that particular time of year. We are reducing our product launches and focusing on true ‘buy now wear now’ drops.

    Your campaign shot at your parents’ home was gorgeous, was this always the plan or did you have to adapt quickly?

    Henrietta: Thank you! The shoot was in no way planned! During those early days of lockdown we had to completely forgo all shoots. Getting content & inspiring your customer is such a big part of the job. The pandemic made everything a lot more difficult, going back to basics, it’s impossible to launch new styles or post them on Instagram if you have no imagery! As soon as it was safe, we jumped at the chance to shoot and my parents’ home seemed like the perfect place and the safest. It was fun to finally shoot there, as a place that’s always been such an inspiration to me and to get creative again!

    Shop: Fallon zebra top (£185) and Vi-Mystic skirt (£215)

    Has the pandemic impacted your brand (both negatively and positively)?

    Orlagh: It definitely has. During lockdown we had a huge decline in sales, just like every other brand. I think customers’ priorities changed during those months which hit the fashion industry hard. Our AW20 collection was the most disappointing season for us in two years, with wholesale accounts cancelling orders and leaving us with huge amounts of stock. We didn’t want to create a domino effect that would hurt our amazing factories and all the workers so instead of cancelling orders ourselves, we took the stock on. It’s been a tough couple of months. We are busy, trying to turn everything we can into a positive. We are grateful that we’ve had four years in business with no real economical downturns so we have to remember that – if this was year 1 or even 2 of RIXO it could have been a lot worse.

    Has it changed the way you work forever?

    Henrietta: We’ve definitely had to adapt, with our head office team all working from home, navigating though Zoom calls and Slack conversations. It’s difficult for communication not to get lost along the way but our team have been working extremely hard to carry on as best they can. We are moving into our new office soon, the second proper office we’ve had, so I’m hoping there are some things that will go back to normal but it’s really made us realise how incredible are team are.

    Shop: Jessie leopard sport dress (£275)

    Social media has always been a big aspect of your brand, even more so during the lockdown with highlighting #HumansofRIXO. Is this something you will carry on growing?

    Henrietta: We’ve really enjoyed expanding on our #HumansofRIXO during this period especially through our Instagram takeovers of various kinds from live yoga sessions to painting classes. This element of the brand has aways been very important to Orlagh and I, this notion of bringing together all kinds of women from all over the world through our pieces. This inclusivity is what RIXO is all about so it’s something we will continue to grow in! We LOVE nothing more that using the platform we have built up for other women to use to help themselves grow.

    What is your inspiration for the new season?

    Henrietta: Called Spring Meadow, the new collection is inspired by 70s watercolour prints, with intricate vintage features. It brings vibrant neon colours in floral and gingham patterns and softer shapes with frilled collars and printed hemlines.

    Any exciting launches coming up?

    Orlagh: We are so excited for all of our future collections, which are very hush hush at the moment. You can definitely expect RIXO exploring new avenues and a few collaborations in the mix though!

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