The womenswear designer explains how she brought her brand of New York cool to Harrods in London.
Through an intuitive knowledge of what her customer wants and an eager embrace of technology and social media, New York designer Rebecca Minkoff has built a successful brand with a loyal following. Now, with stockists including Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue and standalone stores in cities such as Los Angeles, Seoul and Hong Kong, Minkoff is celebrating the recent opening of a large shop-in-shop in London department store Harrods.
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I was born in San Diego, California, and grew up in Florida. I developed an affinity for design in high school, so at 18 I moved to New York City to pursue my dream of becoming a fashion designer. I interned during the day and at night I took design classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology, but only for three semesters. I realised that I knew what I wanted to do and while I might not be the best, I knew how to promote myself. You can’t be shy in this industry and I’ve always favoured a bold course of action.
What sparked your initial interest in fashion?
I knew when I was 13 that fashion was important. I saw a dress that I wanted to wear for my Bat Mitzvah and I begged my mum to buy it for me. Despite my best negotiating skills, I lost the battle. But, being the resourceful woman that she is, my mum challenged me to make the dress myself and bought me my first sewing machine and fabric. At the time, I was upset, but mums do have their special way of teaching life lessons without you even realising it. So I did it. It wasn’t perfect, but it was my own. I felt like my best self on that day.
Who is the Rebecca Minkoff woman?
She is independent, optimistic and fearless. My vision for the brand is focused on the millennial girl, who experiences all of life’s exciting moments with a confident, go-anywhere, do-anything attitude.
What inspires your designs?
I am constantly inspired by my travels, art, music and books, but my greatest inspiration has always been New York City. It energy and culture never lets me down.
What does it mean to you to have opened a shop-in-shop in Harrods?
I’m thrilled to be working with Harrods and to have a presence in one of the most iconic department stores in the world. I am excited to bring my vision and brand aesthetic to the most luxurious retail space in London.
There’s been a lot said about the in-store technology in your New York flagship. Tell us more.
The New York store is the vision of my brother Uri Minkoff, who is the co-founder and CEO of my brand. It was his goal to showcase never-before-seen retail technology that merges the online and physical shopping experience, to specifically cater to my customer and create a highly personalised shopping experience. The immersive shopping experience features new technology developed by eBay, including a connected touch wall and a new consumer mobile iOS app. Our Harrods space will not have the technology in it starting out, but that could change.
Rebecca Minkoff has a huge following on social media – what are the benefits of this for your brand?
I saw the opportunity to reach my target audience on social media in a way that felt organic and natural. Since my customer is a female millennial, she is a digital native and I wanted to speak to her in a way that makes sense to her. Social media has created a new language for fashion that is incredibly influential from both a business and artistic standpoint.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Walking down the street and seeing someone carrying one of my bags is the best feeling that I will never get tired of. I experience the same excitement and sense of pride as much today as I did when I first started out.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time, outside of running your business?
Spending time with my family! I love taking my kids to the Brooklyn Bridge Park on the weekends and planning family trips to warmer destinations whenever possible.
What’s next for Rebecca Minkoff? What are your plans for the year ahead?
Right now, our retail store expansion is a huge focus that I’m excited about both in the US and internationally. We will be opening in Los Angeles this August and in Chicago by the end of the year. We are also scoping out other locations to break ground in 2016. We have some very exciting partnerships and initiatives happening over the next year or so as well, but I can’t give too much away just yet!