The luxury leather bags and accessories designer speaks to Graeme Moran about her Australian origins and selling out in Selfridges.
You haven’t always been a designer, so what did you do before starting your own brand?
I started my career with LVMH when I was 21 and worked with Givenchy, Guerlain, Dior, Moet & Chandon and Dom Perignon [in management roles]. It was the seven years I spent with Dior that proved a pivotal point in the establishment of my own label, and it was at this time I noticed a large gap in the market for an aspirational leather goods brand, sitting between high luxury and high street.
What are the key pieces in your spring 12 collection?
Spring 12 was inspired by a trip in January to the beaches of southern Thailand.
It references the mix of flamboyant and conservative tradition seen there culturally, inspired by colour, fabrics and natural references including mother of pearl and coral. These references can be seen in our digitised floral-print canvas and tie-dye suede.
You use Australian skins and semi-precious stones throughout your collections. Why did you focus on Australian materials?
I grew up in Tasmania, which is one of the most untouched and stunning places in the world, and I love nature and Australia’s natural resources. I saw a gap in the market to use Australia as a platform in order to develop the product range and brand. I also thought a focus on our Australian origins would be unique, realising that the very best leather in the world is from Australia, namely saltwater crocodile, parrotfish, calf and snake – all skins we use.
Why do you have a permanent range called Forever Collection as well as seasonal lines?
We have an ongoing demand for a core range and felt that every season we had to ensure our best-sellers continued to be available. The design of the Forever Collection is lifestyle driven, which means your life can be sorted in one of our bags.
How have sales in Selfridges gone since you started selling there in May?
We were thrilled to see how its customers accepted the brand and we sold out in four weeks.
We’ve been delivering Forever Collection stock and exclusives since then and look forward to launching our spring 12 collection, with a few Selfridges exclusives, next month.
What’s next for the brand? Any plans for a standalone store?
We’ll broaden our offer into other accessory areas – that’s all I can say – but we have a lot on the drawing board.
We’re looking into standalone stores too, definitely here in the UK and in Australia. We’d love to open a series of shop-in-shop concepts too.
What challenges have you faced this year?
The growth of our business and the impact on staffing, manufacturing, distribution and resources. We’ve experienced 70% growth in six months as a result of our online business increasing, new distribution via department stores and strong sell-through across the board.
- Rachael Ruddick is founder of the eponymous bags and accessories label
Which are your favourite cities for shopping?
Milan, Paris, Copenhagen and Hong Kong.
Where was the last place you went on holiday?
What are your best-selling items?
The Mini Traveller in tie-dye and the Prism Clutch in black, but Red Hot Pokers Printed New Opera Clutch is my favourite.
Who are your favourite designers?
For fashion, Givenchy, Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney, and for accessories, Repossi, Nicholas Kirkwood and Alaïa.