Rachel Roy made an appearance at Macy’s in San Francisco on Thursday evening to launch her latest designs from her collaboration with the retailer. Did you know she has to create a new line every month? That includes shoes, handbags jewelry *and* clothing. Seems insane, right? We had five quick minutes with Ms. Roy, a Bay Area native, to get the basics on how it all works.
Stylenik: How do you find inspiration for a new Macy’s line every month?
Rachel Roy: That’s a great question. I feel like if I need to be inspired, my customers need to be inspired. So every season I work with a new artist. Every season meaning the four seasons of the year. I’ve worked with Estelle, Karina Petroni the top female surfer, and now Amar’e Stoudemire the Knicks basketball player. I always try to pick artists in a field I know nothing about. I picked Katrina because I have a huge fear of open water. I grew up in the Monterey Bay area with the great whites and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. And I know nothing about basketball!
Sn: What made you decide to do a line for a department store?
RR: I grew up in Monterey and the most expensive store was in Salinas, and it was Macy’s! It’s like a complete 360. I have friends who work in design and they wouldn’t even consider doing a secondary line. But for me, I really was that girl who wanted what I saw in “Vogue” and I couldn’t afford it. So I understand the customer and I respect her and I really try my best to give her what I believe is modern. I never dumb it down. I was her and I would disrespect myself if I didn’t give my best.
Sn: How is the collaboration with Amar’e going?
RR: We’re in full swing with that. We’re going to launch that for Fashion’s Night Out. He really does have a very strong point of view, which is interesting. He knows what he wants and doesn’t want from fashion. It will be a line of T-shirts, leather jackets, a track suit based on what we think a woman should wear to a sporting event.
I don’t believe a woman should wear heels and get all dolled up but i do believe that she should be effortlessly sexy. I try to push that idea on him and then he pushes his ideas on me — and that’s what it should be! I have to give in because the customer’s going to want what he wants, not what I want.
Sn: How did you manage to start your own line while you were already working full time as creative director at Rocawear?
RR: I had created a sample line for Jay-Z. As he was getting older his fans were getting older, so something a little more mature. And then I found a licensee to go ahead and create the line. But then the line I had created, no one needed. So I asked the owners if I could have that line. They said yeah, it was just going to end up in the closet anyway. So it was just being resourceful. When I ended up leaving Rocawear they let me have that and it was my very first collection. It wasn’t necessarily my point of view entirely but it was enough that I could start my line. And then from there I found funding. I had worked in the industry for seven years at that point, so the first company that funded me was also one of my first licensees. It wasn’t exactly what I would have designed for my first collection, but here’s this collection, no one was going to do anything with it, and they let me have it. So it was me trying to make the most of the opportunities given to me, and also always being thankful!