Rachel Riley, founder of the eponymous childrenswear label, discusses the launch of her first ever diffusion line at the a/w 18 edition of Bubble London, where her new Home Collection also showcased.
Laura Turner: Can you tell me more about the debut diffusion line you launched at Bubble London for a/w 18?
Rachel Riley: Firstly, I have to say I am particularly excited about our diffusion line launch and very proud to have debuted it at Bubble London.
The collection is for babies and toddlers aged 0–2 years, it offers unisex, boy and girl, and has been designed to enable our pieces to be accessible to an even wider range of parents and gift givers.
It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but I needed to make sure I found the right production of high-quality garments at an affordable price point. I’m delighted to have designed this collection of everyday baby clothes, mostly jersey, which are so comfortable, practical, cute, well priced and beautifully made. It’s very exciting.
LT: What does the diffusion line comprise?
RR: There are around 50 pieces in total. The collection mainly covers everyday clothing in our soft jersey cotton and includes tops, trousers, dresses, body and legging sets, sweat pants and jackets, shirts, dungarees and babygros, as well as accessories such as hats, blankets and bibs. There are a few special occasion pieces too, in a lovely soft velour.
Signature prints will range from gold foil hearts and bows through to elephants and sail boats and, of course, our popular motifs in machine embroidery. Wholesale prices range from approximately £5 to £18.
LT: How would you sum up the design aesthetic?
RR: As the diffusion line has been designed with babies and toddlers in mind, I’ve kept the pieces very simple and stylish. The inspiration comes from existing designs from the main Rachel Riley collection but, as most of the collection is in knitted jersey, the collection is more casual and for every day.
LT: In terms of stockists, who are you targeting with the diffusion line?
RR: I hope it will appeal to those retailers who don’t yet stock our collections; those who are looking for high-quality, traditional garments at a lower price point for their customers. The designs are distinctively Rachel Riley, but they are quite different from our main collection, so I think it will enable us to reach a wider customer base.
LT: Do you think diffusion lines will become more commonplace among designer childrenswear brands as a means to broaden customer base?
RR: I think that there has never been a more thrilling time to work in childrenswear – there’s so much interest and excitement in this area. As such, the size of the market has definitely expanded and if designer brands want to reach all areas of this market, they might well want to consider something like a diffusion line to enable them to do so.
LT: What are your plans for the diffusion line – is it something you want to develop in its own right?
RR: It’s early days to be planning ahead, but I’m very excited about its potential. It is something which customers have been asking us about for years, so I’m hoping it will resonate well with a whole new customer base too.
LT: Alongside the diffusion line, you’re simultaneously launched a new Home Collection, too?
RR: Yes, the Home Collection is a collaboration with a leading textile manufacturer, Textrade, who produces premium bedding and interiors textiles worldwide. It’s producing the collection and has set up a UK office, which is headed up by Mark O’Dolan. The Home Collection has just been launched at Heimtextil, the biggest annual home and textiles tradeshow in Germany and will be carried in the Textrade New York showroom. We showed the collection to buyers in London, at Bubble, for the first time this season.
LT: What does the Home Collection cover?
RR: Bedding, curtains, nursery and bedroom accessories and towels for babies, toddlers and children. It features many of our most iconic prints, including the Soldier, Lamb, My Little Prince and My Little Princess. It will launch in spring 2018.
LT: Are there any other product extensions you’d consider in the future?
RR: I’m working hard with these two new projects at the moment, plus our seasonal collection for a/w 18 and the Heritage Collection, which remains so popular; it’s hard to think about anything else at this particular moment, but never say never. We seem to be doing well in our international expansion, so I am always on the look out for new opportunities, wherever they may be.
LT: In terms of the childrenswear collection, what can we expect for a/w 18?
RR: I’m very excited about the a/w 18 collection as it has been built on what has been popular and appreciated by our loyal and enthusiastic customers over the years.
I love print and this season there are woodland animals, sugar mice, feminine bow prints and fun conversational prints, including a fairy complete with silver sparkle wings and horseshoes for good luck.
We’ve also added to the Heritage Collection, which is our core line, and the My Little Prince and My Little Princess themes continue to be the best-selling items, as well as other London-centric prints such as the toy soldier.
LT: What is your overall vision for the Rachel Riley brand over the coming years?
RR: I’d like to continue our expansion in the UK and overseas, and we’ve recently signed up new distributors in Japan and China. With all of the new and seasonal collections, I think this is a good time to take advantage of our reputation for premium childrenswear. We are always grateful to our customers who appreciate good design and the quality of our goods. I’m aware that building a brand involves hard work and dedication. It is made up of building foundations, then each wall, brick-by-brick, until there is one room, a flat, a house…it’s a step-by step process and I’m excited about the future.
LT: Any other updates?
RR: We’ve opened a second showroom in the US – we have a showroom in New York and recently opened one in Atlanta too. I’ve also designed a capsule collection in collaboration with the Dorchester Hotel in London, which is very sweet with a London theme.