HOW DID YOUR LABEL’S NAME, RHEE, COME ABOUT?
Rhee is my mum’s maiden name and Ruda’s last name! We just thought it was short and sweet and it doesn’t have any connotations which allows people to associate our specific aesthetic with it.
WHAT WAS THE ORIGINAL INTENT BEHIND THE CREATION OF RHEE?
We wanted to design and create simple, high quality clothing that resonated with our personal style.
WHAT GOT YOU STARTED IN THE DIRECTION OF WOMENSWEAR?
We feel like our personal style plays a huge part in what we design so obviously womenswear was the way to go. We feel like our own wardrobes translate into what we design - just really simple, clean and minimal everyday wear. We are both quite interested in menswear too so we're definitely keen on doing some refined, tailored womenswear pieces as well as some menswear pieces in the future.
WHO/WHAT DO YOU DRAW INSPIRATION FROM AND WHAT IS IT ABOUT THEM THAT INFLUENCES YOU?
We’re both inspired by designers like Yohji, Dries Van Noten, Jacquemus, Jonny Johansson… they all have such a strong aesthetic/vision that have attracted cult followings! It’s so important to have a point of difference and it’s definitely something we’re always working on developing.
HOW DID YOU DISCOVER A NEED FOR THIS TYPE OF PRODUCT IN THE MARKETPLACE?
We're both really into simple muted colours, minimal print/pattern, garments made from high quality natural fabrics like linen and silks which is pretty hard to find at an affordable price range.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST DIFFICULT ASPECT OF GETTING YOUR BRAND OFF THE GROUND AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME IT?
When we decided to launch RHEE, we had already developed our designs as it was something we had been thinking about for a while. We knew what kind of direction we wanted to go in style-wise and in terms of the target market, but we didn’t know much about how/where to get our garments made and where to get clothing labels sewn - the manufacturing/ production side of things… Just emailing and calling a lot of different machinists and different fabric manufacturers to get an idea of expenses and time restrictions took up most of our time leading up to the launch!
WHAT ARE TWO ASPECTS OF BUSINESS IN WHICH YOU BELIEVE AN EMERGING BRAND SHOULD INVEST RESOURCES?
Definitely do your research before you start anything so you’re confident that you’re choosing the best option. Since all our garments are made in NZ by local machinists, we spent a lot of time trying to find someone who was close by and affordable as we only do very small runs and made-to-order. Also the most obvious things like clothing labels, and a well-planned lookbook photoshoot.
COULD YOU TELL US A BIT MORE ABOUT YOUR CREATIVE DESIGN AND PRODUCTION PROCESSES?
A lot of design development happened during patterning when things didn't fit the way we thought it would and when we had to change fastenings/finishings to reduce fabric cost/labour. In terms of designing, imagery and fabrics are definitely what evokes an idea. Some people get inspired by reading something or by an experience but I think we like to look at something visual or tangible.
WE REALLY LIKE HOW YOU SHOT YOUR SS15 LOOKBOOK - WHAT WAS THE CONCEPT AND CREATIVE DIRECTION BEHIND IT?
Thank you! We really just wanted to keep things simple and minimal, focusing more on the aesthetic and mood rather than having a story behind it. We worked with Eve Sorenson, Jessica Taylor, Grace Gordon and Zarina Hewlett from Unique - such a great team! Eve is also amazing at directing so we think the photos came out quite natural and effortless. Also thanks to Zora Bell Boyd and Jessica Aggrey for letting us borrow some pieces for our lookbook shoot which definitely complimented our garments!
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE QUINTESSENTIAL RHEE GIRL?
Someone laid-back, confident and independent.
WHAT DO YOU HAVE PLANNED FOR RHEE IN THE FUTURE?
We definitely want to push our designs more and create some bolder pieces. Definitely still keeping with the subdued colour palette and minimal detail but possibly exploring more dramatic silhouettes/ textures. RHEE is equally a platform to connect with other creatives as it is a small business so we’re definitely looking forward to meeting more people through RHEE and hopefully collaborating on a few pieces.