We meet the fashion designer behind the Junior Design Award-winning brand to chat about her love of traditional fashion for children, and her aspirations to be Wonderwoman!
Rachel Riley has won many Junior Design Awards over the years with her luxury, eponymous childrenswear label. It is an exciting time for Rachel and her brand, with stores overseas, beautiful pieces for mums, an incredible selection of children's shoes and a continuing royal seal of approval...
Why did you decide to start a fashion label?
I have always liked making things and often made things for myself, so when I had children it was with pleasure that I started to make things for them. Plus, I couldn’t find what I was looking for, which was comfortable, practical clothes that looked good and that were classic in style
Why do you think parents are keen to emulate the vintage style more, these days?
I think there is always an element of reproducing what we had as children when we have children of our own, for example reading them books that we enjoyed as a child, or sharing a best-loved film together. Of course, Prince George is also trend-setting. So many people across the world have seen how he is dressed.
Why do you think good and thoughtful design is important, for parents?
I think that it is important for both parents and children. It teaches children about comfort and colour and soft durable fabrics, and it is nice to live around good design, whether it is for clothing or furniture or other things that we live with.
Mother and daughter styles at Rachel Riley
Why do you think parents want to invest in luxurious clothing for their children?
Clothing that is made out of beautiful fabrics washes and wears better and last longer. Many of my customers tell me that they can hand our clothing down to siblings, cousins or friends, and also that they put them aside for their grandchildren, or as keepsakes. It also helps that classic clothes never go out of fashion!
You always look lovely – the perfect reflection of your brand! But... do you have a junk cupboard?
I try not to have a junk cupboard, and I have recently moved, and that really helps to get organised and streamlined. I love beautiful objects, and if you surround yourself with nice things you want to look after them, like ironing a cherished blouse, or polishing my favourite shoes.
What makes a 'Rachel Riley' design stand out?
I love print; especially the conversational prints of the thirties and forties, such as windmills, or sailboats. I think our designs are quite recognisable, and it is always a thrill for me to see a child in the street wearing our clothes!
Boyswear at Rachel Riley
What are your plans for the brand?
We are growing our online business well at the moment, both in the UK and the US where we have a website in dollars. We have also recently appointed agents in the US, UK and Ireland, so we would like to sell to more shops both in the UK and abroad.
Prince George – can we expect to see him sporting more Rachel Riley outfits?
We don’t know in advance when he might wear anything of ours, so it is always a lovely surprise to see him in our clothes. They are such an influential family, and it is a pleasure to see them together.
Can you tell us a little about royal style etiquette? What are the hard and fast rules, and do they still apply in modern times?
When I look at the pictures of the royal children through the last century, starting with the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret in the thirties, and Prince Charles and Princess Anne in the fifties, and then Princes William and Harry in the eighties, I think there are quite a lot of similarities. They are from a traditional family, so of course they stick with their traditions.
What are the top three parenting products you couldn’t have lived without when your children were growing up?
1- Someone lent me a large pram and as we lived in the country when my children were babies - I enjoyed using that in the summer in the garden.
2 - I loved the smell of Johnson’s baby powder when they were all clean from the bath!
3 - I found that having pencil and notepad at the ready to jot down any design ideas that I had when we were out and about was a saviour!
What fashion item do you wish you had designed?
I love clothes, but I don’t hanker after what other people have done; even though I am interested to see what is out there!
Finally, if you could have one superhero skill – what would it be and why?
To be Wonderwoman! I love to multitask to get a lot done!
About Rachel Riley
Rachel Riley is an award-winning British baby and children’s wear designer with a long-term commitment to provide quality, classic, stylish and good-value children’s clothing with a quintessentially British feel. Rachel is a former model, a mother-of-three and is married to French fashion photographer Daniel Jouanneau. She has two shops in London and over 100 stockists worldwide. She also sells online at www.rachelriley.co.uk
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