The founders of Rixo are on a mission to make the brand more affordable and more wearable, writes Vickie Maye.
What does a brand like Rixo do next? The label’s USP is flattering handmade prints and cool cuts. Surely there’s a risk the duo behind it, Henrietta Rix and Derry born, London based, Orlagh McCloskey, might simply run out of ideas. And hot on their heels are a host of copy cat dresses, anxious to tap into the ‘Rixo Effect’.
Orlagh just laughs. Inspiration, new ideas, are never a problem, even with a gruelling 24/7 work schedule. Somehow, there is still time for creativity.
“I have no many ideas I can’t can’t keep up,” she laughs, adding that Rixo will never be driven by trends. There are still concepts floating in her head way back from when they created the label back in 2013.
The two former ASOS buyers — they went to the same college and even then a lecturer suggested they should work together — knew women wanted more than fast fashion.
They used Orlagh’s hand drawn prints and called in favours to create their now legendary styles.
Then they set to work, sending dresses to influencers by hand, banging on the doors of London’s fashion editors, visiting the best boutiques with their product.
Within months, Rixo was on the pages of glossy magazines everywhere.
Where usually a brand, a band, an actor, will insist they weren’t an overnight success, Rixo really was just that. Here’s the thing — it’s not just about their amazing dresses, and they really are show stopping.
People simply like them, they love their story — and they want to get behind it.
Already the girls have branched out, moved from their celebrated dresses to swimwear, accessories, sequins, knitwear (and there’s much more of that to come, Orlagh promises).
Now, in a little taster of what’s next, Orlagh tells me her focus is on cut — and affordability.
She wants her dresses to be more flattering still. But she also wants to move away from Rixo being a label for dressy occasions. She wants women to wear it daily, like she does, with trainers on her bike.
“People think it’s quite dressy but I wear it on my bike all the time.
“I’m focused on making it more wearable and affordable.
“The quality makes it last — you really can just throw this on any time and it’ll be perfect. I want a better price point so you can dress it up and down.” To this end, a new range of €200 dresses, in comparison with the €300 current entry point, are coming soon.
As for the copycats?
“Yes, it’s a worry,” says Orlagh, “but I’ve worked in ASOS and you won’t get hand drawn prints — this is my hand writing essentially.”
It’s true success came at breakneck speed, but there have been sacrifices. Both women were in their 20s, a time when their friends were focused on their social lives.
“We just worked all the time. We still do. It’s a lifestyle. It’s only now I have boyfriend. Even now if we are away I’m searching all the time for vintage fairs.
“We sacrificed our 20s but it didn’t feel like work.”
Of course there’s more to creating your own company than creativity. A business mind is also a necessity. And it’s something the duo had too.
For years they worked out of their living room — they still share a house (“we are like sisters”) — and very gradually they began to employ one, then two people. Today Orlagh tells me proudly they have moved to a business HQ in London and have a staff of 20. For a brand that’s now global, showing at London Fashion Week, it’s a tiny team.
Orlagh and Henrietta are involved in every single aspect of Rixo, right down to styling the shoots for each drop. Not that they micromanage either, Orlagh insists. It’s all about finding a team you trust.
“We are not out to make money in a few years and sell it on — we are in this the for long haul.
“There is no investor out to make money.”
The celebrity following has helped to drive brand awareness — and sales. Tess Daly was recently photographed in a few key pieces and demand went through the roof. But another of Orlagh’s missions is to show how real women style their creations.
At Fashion Week invites were given to the public and some of these women wore the pieces on the runway. “They are the ambassadors of the brand,” she says.
Enthusiastic and passionate, the conversation dips only once — at the mention of Brexit. It’s a subject close to Derry-born Orlagh’s heart, torn as she is between her London home and her birthplace.
“No one knows what’ll happen. My dad has a business back home and no-deal would be awful. It’s not in not close proximity — deals aren’t made in Westminster for the north.
“There’s an ignorance here, people just don’t know.
“We grew up with a border, we were stopped for matches — it’s not nice seeing the army on the street.”
In tough times like these the brightness of Rixo might be just what we need.
The latest Rixo collection is in Brown Thomas now.