Rachel Comey’s lasting appeal

The designer returns to New York Fashion Week with a new collection and a new approach that marries the brand’s heritage with its future.

Rachel Comey lors de son défilé printemps 2005 à Bryant Park.

<p>Photo: Mark Mainz / Getty Images</p>
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Rachel Comey at her Spring 2005 show in Bryant Park.

Photo: Mark Mainz / Getty Images

Rachel comey don’t care too much about commemorating milestones. She doesn’t remember how she celebrated her brand’s 10th anniversary ten years ago, but she does recall the parade she held outside her store in SoHo for her 15th. There were many turning points worth celebrating, such as opening the first store, hiring its first employee six years with the company, and deleveraging in the same year. Still, this one is a little different.

“I mean, 20 years is a long time,” she said. “It was a lot of learning, which is great. That’s one of the fun parts of the job – you’re still learning.”

By her own admission, Comey is taking a step outside the fashion establishment – and for years has been more committed to following her client than following the show schedule. She did New York Fashion Week, but also chose not to do it when it didn’t make sense; she’s played with alternate ways of launching a collection, whether it’s heading west to LA or hosting a dinner party with clients, muses and people close to the brand. It was another step, by the way – “know ourselves [to say] like, “Oh yeah, that’s the thing that makes sense to us, my team and my clients,” she says.

This year, the Rachel Comey brand celebrates its 20th anniversary. [by] you just have to think about the future, ”she says. (“It’s still young. We are still young.”) There will be many occasions to celebrate, however: there are an upcoming collaboration with Target, and also a return to Fashion week.

“After this year and a half of calm and reflection, it was just a beautiful thing to do, to meet up with my team and even to find new collaborators,” she says. “It’s a moment, an experience that I missed.”

For her Spring 2022 presentation, Comey is working with choreographer Beth Gill (“another New York artist”) to create a different kind of presentation. Because of the anniversary, she and her team felt compelled to “relive the experience of the show,” a big part of Rachel Comey’s story at first. It is how it started. Plus, there’s the fact that New York is so central to the brand’s identity.

“In New York, there are a lot of needs in our lifestyle – I like that about New York, and I like that about dressing in New York,” Comey says. “You can really change your mood and your experience very easily, by a short trip to a different building in a different outfit. I feel like it’s a bit New Yorker in the way I relate to it. . There are so many. Interesting people here; to be able to equip them is to feel New Yorker. “

As his company nears the big 2-0, Comey also reflected on “the next step for us as a company and how we can be more responsible as manufacturers” – big and small, “be it fiber. or compost. in our studio ”to poly bags:“ There are so many ways that everyone in business and in practice can improve. So, both to celebrate the brand’s first two decades and weave into what’s on mind as it moves into the next, the new collection will appear alongside pieces from the brand’s archives, “for showing a new take on them, a new way of looking at them, standing behind their relevance and timeliness and looking at them in a new way. “It starts at Fashion Week and continues through a partnership with Scouring, which will allow customers to buy and sell their own older Rachel Comey pieces, directly on the brand’s e-commerce site, alongside new products.

Rachel Comey has become something of a shortcut for people with taste and intelligence – the fashion label for the thoughtful person. Its designs have a cool sophistication, indicating that their wearer has a discerning fashion palate, perhaps a subscription to new York on paper. The brand’s IRL sample sale is also legendary, an opportunity for this crowd to come together and for the ambitious to get their hands on one of its cult items.

“It’s just the community,” Comey says of what draws people to his brand, “and, I don’t know, I mean respecting shared experiences, shared interests. We kind of do our own thing. and are involved in a lot more than fashion. My clients have varied professional backgrounds and we always think of [that] – ‘Okay, you are a writer, you are a lecturer, you are an artist, you are in the studio, you are a conductor.’ We really focus on thoughtful, thoughtful women. “

“If they work in politics, maybe they are advocates for women’s health – there is such a diversity of women who motivate me and my team and make us think of them,” she says. “We have so many great clients all over the place. I think being outside of fashion and thinking about the women who dress and their needs for their work has been a big driving force.”

This customer-centric, customer-centric approach cemented Comey’s durability as a designer. That’s not to say the upward trajectory has been smooth: Comey admits she isn’t sure she’s making the same choices that got her where she is today, “or whether I would take the time to work. for other companies. I bet I would learn it faster if I did that, “she says.” I just didn’t have that opportunity. I didn’t go to school for fashion or anything, so I really had to dive in on my own and figure it out. “

She believes that staying true to yourself and your vision is the best advice – “but, I mean, I was in debt for the first six years, working freelance and doing all these other things. tries to share that as much with people, so they don’t think you have to get out of it. I was also 28 when I started my business; I had already explored several other career paths at that time. “

Yet this commitment not only to understanding the customer, but to always striving to meet their needs and satisfy them where they are found, has allowed Comey to follow his instincts, whether in terms of the fabric that has. meaning for a specific garment or in terms of going back to fashion week. And clearly, it served him well.

“I’ve grown a lot over the years. I think fashion week has changed too. But I find it an opportunity,” she says. “I’m not showing all of the seasons – we have to follow the flow of what looks inherently good for the collection we’re working on, for the cultural vibe, for the intensity of the week. Give that some space. what other people are working on, and we’ll just do something here. It’s hard as a designer with a brand that bears their name to be like, “Okay, twice a year, give me your full. be careful. “It just seems a little gluttonous, so I think it’s okay to slow down and take a step back sometimes … Selfishly, I’ve really lacked performance and human interaction this past year, so I think it’s nice to have the opportunity to be involved in this again. “

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