RIXO - how the cult fashion brand was inspired by the vintage markets of Cheshire
- Credit: Archant
The founders’ passion for scouring antiques fairs and car boot sales proved the inspiration behind their brand.
What is it about Rixo? The cult label burst onto the fashion scene about two years ago and suddenly we were all wondering why we hadn’t always wanted to wear sexy blouses and floaty dresses featuring quirky modern prints and fabric mash-ups.
Cheshire-born Henrietta Rix and her friend Orla McClosky’s brand has caught the imagination of everyone from Kylie Minogue to Margot Robbie and in just over two-and-a-half years has 140 stockists worldwide.
That’s extraordinary when you think it was started in the living room of the two London College of Fashion graduates... but then it seems that the pair always had the drive to succeed.
They discovered a gap in the market for affordable designs based around the vintage clothes they both loved and often other girls would ask where they’d bought their outfits.
I managed to grab a telephone interview with Henrietta as she drove back to Mere, near Knutsford, where her mum and dad and four older brothers still live. She explained that she loves coming home but rarely has the chance to do so, as she has been so busy since Rixo took off.
The former pupil of Hale Prep and Altrincham Grammar School for Girls reveals that the main reason for Rixo’s success is not just hard work, but sheer ambition.
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‘We studied fashion at university and worked at ASOS doing buying and there was no way I was going to quit my job and set up a brand as a hobby,’ she says.
‘We never had a plan B, not in a cocky way. We always thought that we were going to go for it. We were going to put our all in so we basically gave up two years of our lives. We couldn’t have boyfriends, we had no social life so we just became Rixo!’
What distinguishes the brand from any others is its youthful take on vintage. The clothes feel like a breath of fresh air in the competitive market place that is fashion.
It was Henrietta and Orla’s passion for scouring antiques fairs and car boot sales that proved the inspiration behind their brand.
‘We were both studying fashion management at university and straight away we really clicked. On Sundays, hungover or not, we would head off to a vintage fair. All our other friends liked fashion but weren’t as interested in it as we were,’ she says.’
But long before then, when Henrietta was growing up in Cheshire, she would visit the local antiques fairs and car boot sales.
‘Mobberley Antiques Fair is one of my favourites,’ she reveals.
‘ I used to do that every Sunday with my mum and grandma. So I got loads of inspiration from there.’
Rixo is not vintage, she insists, but is rooted in those retro finds from the flea markets.
‘It was more that it came from these gorgeous dresses we had found,’ says Henrietta. ‘I went to Wilmslow antique fair years ago and bought a gorgeous Ozzie Clarke dress. I think I got it for £60 and it was worth at least £600 in London. I still go to the antique fairs, I absolutely love them.
‘And then it was all the vintage dresses that we absolutely loved. I couldn’t find anything like them. Everyone was wearing high street brands but the quality was really bad or there was nothing unique or different about them. Then when you went to the high end department stores they’d be charging an absolute fortune for contemporary design and they were all in black and white: quite Scandi and minimal. That just wasn’t our style.
‘Orla and I are very similar. We both have a keen eye for design and for prints. I think what works is the combination of the price point, the quality of the design, the print and just really flattering shapes that fit. But they fit into our customers’ lifestyles too.’
‘With Rixo dresses you can wear them with trainers during the day or equally wear them to a wedding or a christening. Some people have even got married in them, but then they’ll wear the dress on holiday with sandals or on the beach.’
She says the way they have developed the brand has been totally organic, from a tiny operation in their student house to an exciting new fashion house
‘This time last year it was Orla and me in the company. We did all the press ourselves, all the sales ourselves, social media - everything done by us in our living room.
‘It was a humble beginning and we didn’t realise that it was really picking up speed. Then in November last year we just realised we needed to grow a little team. We couldn’t work from our living room anymore, so we got an office.’
Now the pair are developing Rixo even further and will be introducing swimwear into their cruise collection this November.
‘A lot of our customers want the full look,’ she says.
‘ We used to do the styling and I can’t tell you how many of our customers would ask “where’s that belt from, where’s that bag from”.So it looks like a collection of accessories is also the next step for this ambitious pair.
‘Rixo is something we want to grow internationally,’ says Henrietta. ‘What we don’t want is to carry on doing the same thing so that in five years time everyone in the UK is fed up with it.’