From the cozy corner of her Brooklyn studio, Rachel Antonoff delivers fashion and fun all in one. With hand-painted prints and ultra-comfortable fits, she’s on a mission to create styles that enhance and celebrate the best version of yourself.
Recently, we visited Antonoff’s studio to talk with the designer about building her namesake brand, where she finds inspiration for her quirky prints and more. Keep reading to get a behind-the-scenes look at where the magic happens.
RTR: Tell us about your namesake brand, Rachel Antonoff, and how it all began.
RACHEL ANTONOFF: I started Rachel Antonoff in 2009 after disbanding a clothing line I had started with a friend called Mooka Kinney. I had endless ideas but no formal training, which is something I feel proud of now but at the time, felt embarrassed by. The first Rachel Antonoff collection was seven dresses, each in a different bold floral. On the rack, it looked like someone’s wild, untended garden. I Willy Loman-ed my wares around NYC and picked up some accounts. We were incredibly fortunate to be picked up by Barneys in our first season. Everything progressed very slowly from there. We eventually expanded into other categories and gradually grew the business.
RTR: How has New York City influenced your designs?
RA: Even a short walk from the subway to the office provides so much color, so many weird stories. It’s impossible not to be inspired by this weird, great city.
RTR: What’s been the most rewarding part of building your business throughout the years?
RA: The most rewarding part for me has been getting to employ and work alongside some truly incredible and inspiring people. It may sound corny, but it’s really felt like an enormous privilege to have so much of people’s time and energy. When you think about it, we spend so much time with our colleagues which can make the work environment wonderful or not so much. I am really fortunate to be surrounded with colleagues I love and enjoy working with.
RTR: Describe the brand in 5 words or less.
RA: Eccentric, silly, joyous, functional and fun.
RTR: Your styles are known for being vibrant, ultra eye-catching and ready-to-wear. What’s your design process like?
RA: It takes a village! Our design team is small and we usually start with a general concept or theme. Because we are such a print-driven brand, brainstorming prints is always really fun for us as there’s really no ceiling on ideas. We develop print concepts before we begin on silhouettes so once we have both, it’s a fun game of who goes with who.
RTR: Do you remember the first time you saw someone wearing Rachel Antonoff? What was that experience like?
RA: I don’t remember the first time, but it absolutely never gets old. I feel THRILLED every time I see someone in RA. I actually used to approach people, incapable of containing my excitement, but I’ve stopped doing that.
RTR: We know you love them all, but if you had to pick, what are your must-rent Rachel Antonoff styles on RTR?
RA: It’s hard to choose, but my must rents are the Toni Printed Puffer and the Cori Zebra Print Cardigan.
RTR: What are you inspired by right now?
RA: I always find food really inspiring. I want to make a print of everything I eat. I really do find inspiration anywhere and often in truly random places.
RTR: Your brand aims to reclaim the art of getting dressed. What’s been the most inspiring part of watching the world’s excitement towards getting dressed again in 2021?
RA: It seems like people emerged from lockdown ready to really go for it, style-wise, and embrace less traditional styles of dress. That has been really fun to watch.
Rapid-Fire Questions –
First fashion memory: Sleeping Beauty’s pink & blue ball gowns
Personal fashion icon: Lee Radziwill, Diana Vreeland
A song you have on repeat: “Stop Making This Hurt” by Bleachers
Who do you want to see in Rachel Antonoff? So many people! To name a few, Maya Rudolph, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Edie Falco.
If you weren’t a designer, what would you do? I would probably be a baker.