From launching out of a living room to becoming a fixture on every cool-girl’s Instagram feed—we chat to Rixo founders and best friends Orlagh McCloskey and Henrietta Rix about how their bright, vintage-inspired label became a fashion world Cinderella story.
What inspired you to take the leap and start your own label back in 2015? “We felt there was a real gap in the market for vintage-inspired pieces at a contemporary price point,” says McCloskey. “At the time, it was mostly Scandinavian-inspired pieces in muted block tones, or streetwear styles—there wasn’t anything like Rixo. We wanted to create clothes that really represented us and our style.”
Have you always loved vintage? “We’ve loved vintage for as long as we can both remember—we have it to thank for becoming friends,” McCloskey reveals. “When we met at university, it just wasn’t something that anyone else was into. We’d spend our weekends scouring charity shops and vintage fairs together all over London, parts of the UK and even abroad.”
Rixo is self-funded. How did you make the business work in those early stages? “When we launched, we were literally doing everything ourselves: marketing, wholesale, ecommerce. This meant that press, buyers, influencers and even customers got to know us as the founders at the same time as they got to know the brand, which I think helped them understand and connect with Rixo,” says Rix. “Social media has also played a big part—it’s something we have handled personally from day one and it has all been very organic. I think people connect with that.”
Is it true that you would lend your own pieces to customers? “We would style up Rixo pieces on [our website] with our own vintage accessories and we always had customers asking to buy the full looks. So, it’s true, sometimes we’d end up having to sell or loan our own vintage belts and bags to customers who were coveting them,” recalls McCloskey. “To this day, we still have customers contacting us to say things like, ‘I used to come to your living room’ or, ‘Remember when you loaned me your own belt to go with the dress I purchased?’”
What was the turning point for the brand? “Net-a-Porter was the first wholesaler to pick up our collection in 2016. They gave us a global platform for Rixo and were so supportive of us right from the beginning,” says Rix.
You’ve just launched Rixo accessories, as well as swimwear. What informed that decision? “It was a genuine demand from our customer, who wanted to wear the pieces the same way [they were] styled on our ecommerce site,” Rix says. “It’s been a year or so in the making, as they are categories that we always saw ourselves launching, [and] they probably won’t be the last.”
Despite your success, you’ve kept your pieces at an accessible price point. How do you make these decisions? “We work backwards, looking first at what we think the true value of something is, and what we would be happy to pay for it ourselves as a customer,” McCloskey says of the process. “We’re lucky that we call the shots and don’t have investors dictating to us.”
What advice would you give to aspiring designers wanting to start their own label? “Follow your gut!” offers McCloskey. “We’ve made lots of decisions in the past based on what we felt was right for the brand, against what was advised by others who perhaps had more experience than us. No-one knows your brand better than you.”