Rebecca Minkoff’s creates bags and clothing to fit with all aspects of women’s lives.
Rebecca minkoff headshot photography by paul maffi rt
Rebecca Minkoff began her eponymous label in 2001 with a five-piece capsule collection. She gained attention in 2005 after she designed the Morning After Bag – her bags are named after “the stages of love”. Minkoff relaunched womenswear in 2009, focusing on boho, feminine styles with a rock chick edge. Today the brand is known for its edgy accessories, and stud detailing is a signature aesthetic, and is stocked by more than 900 retailers worldwide, among them Selfridges in the UK and Nordstrom in the US, and retail prices range from £88 for a clutch to £443 for a weekend bag. Clothing ranges from £57.60 for a T-shirt to £560 for a jacket. It also operates 13 of its own stores, and has become known for its high-tech concepts such as interactive fitting rooms and “magic” mirrors. Early this year, Minkoff launched the RM Superwoman project, a collection of portraits and interviews of successful women. Drapers spoke to her about designing for every woman and inspiring the community.
How did you become interested in fashion?
At eight years old, I wanted a dress, but my mum refused to buy it for me. Instead she taught me how to sew. From then I really got hooked on the fact that I could create my own clothes. I was very thin, and being able to customise my clothes and make sure they fitted me was something that gave me a lot of confidence.
I grew up in San Diego and I went to a performing arts high school for dance. I was too tall to be a dancer, so I ended up in the costume department sewing for four hours a day: draping and pattern making. I moved to New York to work for a designer [who?], and I lived there for three years before I started my own brand.
Can you tell us a little bit about the history of the brand?
When I was working in New York, I had a deal with the CEO that when I finished my work, I could work on my own projects. The brand started very small, with a five-piece apparel collection. One item was a T-shirt that I customised, and that style took off and got my name out there. I hobbled along for four years, selling to a couple of boutiques and living from one ramen joint to the next. Then I decided to do one bag alongside the clothing collection – that was what really took off and resonated with people.
How would you describe the aesthetic of the brand?
It’s about inspiring confidence. We’re not just a one-lane brand. It is finding what will make a women feel excited and is relevant to what is happening in our times. It’s about taking every facet of a woman – who can be both a businesswoman and a mum, for example – and creating something that fits with all those parts.
How would you describe your own personal style?
It’s a little bit boho, but I like to use leather jackets and boots to make long dresses look a little more hard.
Tell us about the RM Superwoman project
It came out of a time when I felt frustrated by how insular fashion was. I really wanted women to feel more camaraderie and more support with each other. It was a dinner [club] that then turned into a consumer-facing interview series. I would speak to successful women, hopefully to inspire my community to take that leap into their dream or passion and feel supported. We then took it online and in stores, and it’s really about inspiring women to have confidence, to take steps they might not otherwise take. If we keep supporting each other you can achieve great success that way. We started that three years ago. It’s been reignited by our current political climate, but it’s something we’ve been talking about for quite some time.
How do you keep yourself inspired and creative?
Travel is always inspiring for me, seeing people on the street and looking at how different cultures use fashion to express themselves. I love a good market.
You’re based in New York – do you think the city is reflected in your designs?
We’re definitely a New York brand, but I think unconsciously I bring in a bit of a casual element, which probably comes from my upbringing in California.
Is there anyone in the industry you particularly admire?
I think what Jessica Alba has done with her beauty brand Honest is pretty incredible. You see a lot of celebrities just attaching themselves to projects or brands, but this is really her baby and to grow it to where she has is really been inspiring.
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?
That in business, “no” is just the beginning of “yes”.
Favourite clothing brand
I buy more Isabel Marant than I should
Favourite places to shop
Last fashion purchase
A pink Isabel Marant T-shirt
Harbour Island in the Bahamas
Last book you read
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Last film you watched?
Aside from babysitting, I served in an ice-cream parlour
I used to be a dancer, and I’d love to be a choreographer. Or I’d love to be a doula
What would we find you doing at the weekend?
Sleeping in if I can, cooking. We have a house near the beach, in a town called Quogue in Long Island, so a barbecue, hanging out in the sun, going for a swim or a bike ride