Interview: Rebecca Minkoff

Personal appearance by Rebecca Minkoff at Holt Renfrew VancouverDesigner Rebecca Minkoff was in Vancouver a few weeks ago to promote her beautiful handbag and accessory line at Holt Renfrew. A fabulous New York theme event was held on the main level of the store where customers enjoyed hot pretzels and Jone’s soda before the meet and greet with the lovely Rebecca.

We had the chance to chat with Rebecca before the event to learn more about her quickly expanding brand.

Artist Logan Real monograms bags at the Rebecca Minkoff event, Holt Renfrew VancouverArtist Logan Real meticulously paints customer’s initials onto their Rebecca Minkoff Purses

Personal appearance by Rebecca Minkoff at Holt Renfrew VancouverHow do you approach designing your collection?
I would say I don’t take the same approach every time. Each time, I’m struck with a different inspiration, whether it be travel or a book. This last season, it was Patty Smith’s book Just Kids, so it was all about the feeling that the book evoked. From there I started building the story and luckily had a lot of photos to reference from her, and really tried to make it as true to her style as possible.

You have been so successful with growing your brand over the years. To what do you attribute your success?
A great team, a lot of hard work, and a lot of persistence.

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We love the use of technology in your new Soho location. Can you tell us about this concept?
Basically, when we decided to open up traditional retail, we thought it couldn’t just be the old-style; it had to be something that would be innovative that would really ease the pain points within a customer shopping experience. So, all along the way, things that might be frustrating as a shopper: not knowing where something is in the store, not knowing if they have your size, that’s how we kind of lead you in, offering something to drink, to break down the barrier between a salesperson and a shopper. And then everything from texting you when a dressing room is ready and then once you get into the dressing room, lighting options, size options, seeing how I would style the look; we’re able to cross-sell that way as well. We also have fitting room abandonment, so we know exactly what you abandon, what size and we can look into why, and improve that process.

RM-StoreWhat is the best thing about your job?
I think there’s two parts. There’s obviously the eight minutes twice a year [where] I get my fashion show that a whole year of hard work has come together, but also meeting my customers! I get an insight on who she is and what she likes.

What has been the most memorable moment of your career?
I think opening our stores. When I moved to New York and I was living on someone’s couch and could barely eat, to then open a store on Greene Street in SoHo… it’s kind of a “you never thought you’d get there” moment.

storeopening_social866x600Can you tell us about your role as Global Color Designer for Essie?
[Essie] approached me for this role because they think that I have a great use of colour, and that’s what I’m known for in my handbags. So, it’s really a synergistic relationship where I get to pick the colours and the theme, and really the inspiration of each collection. It’s a dream come true for me because it’s fun! I pick the colour, I pick the inspiration and then they make it come to life, which is great!

Essie-Fall-15-1 Nails-fall-2015You always showed at Lincoln Centre. What are your thoughts on the future of NYFW?
I don’t know…We and they are without a home right now, and so we’re trying to figure out what we’re going to do. That’s about as far as we’ve gotten. But I know that once the Culture Shed is built, that it will probably be our home, but that’s at least two years away. In the meantime, we’re going to play around…stay tuned.

Personal appearance by Rebecca Minkoff at Holt Renfrew VancouverWhat advice do you have for an aspiring fashion designer?
Find the white space, and once you do, be prepared for a lot of “no’s” and a lot of “you can’t do this”; but persist through that and surround yourself with people that compensate for whatever you’re weak in.

What is next for the Rebecca Minkoff brand?
More stores! We open L.A. in June and Chicago this Fall!

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Rebecca’s Favourites

Way to relax and unwind
Wine!

Drink of Choice
Either a margarita or a glass of wine. 

Vacation Destination
Anywhere with a beach and sunshine!

Place to go for inspiration
I like to travel to other countries if I can. I really want to go to Morocco, I’ve never been, but I’ve been to Turkey and Istanbul, and that was really beautiful and inspiring. 

Current Favourite Bag
The Waverly, and I’m in love!

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 Favourite Leather to work with
The cow that I started my brand on might be one of my favourites. The stonewash leather was by far one of my favourites. And then there’s a goat skin that has a really beautiful shine to it, that actually we’re finally able to bring back!

Beauty Must Have
Chapstick

Favourite Band
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

Favourite Hostess gift to give
Champagne

Hidden Gem in New York
I don’t know if any of the gems are hidden anymore! But I love Marlow and Sons in Brooklyn, and I Love ABC Kitchen.

Person to follow on Instagram
The Fat Jewish

Style Icon
I always say Kate Moss, but I never get sick of her.
I think she just always looks really great.

Images courtesy of Holt Renfrew & Rebecca Minkoff