What has been your personal journey with fashion and how has it influenced what you do with your brand and its business?
I’ve been in the industry since I was 16 years old, going from working for a local designer to showing my brand at internationally known trade shows. The path to today has been long and interesting and helped forge my brand into what it is now.
Throughout my career as a designer, I’ve worked for brands that were high end/designer, or low-end/commercial. There is such a divide in the industry now due to issues like fast fashion or ethical manufacturing. While the previous iteration of my brand was designer level and retailed at a high price point, I really wanted to be able to bring that level of quality, detail and fit that you find in a high priced item and find a way to evolve it into something more accessible. As a designer, I don’t design for a specific gender so I even took this a step further by removing gender from the equation.
I feel like the consumers are at the point now where they want something new, that doesn’t follow the old-school mentality of building a brand or a collection. After 2 years on hiatus and tinkering with the brand, the pandemic hit at an unfortunate time but it has forced our industry to change and is now allowing smaller brands with a unique story find their time to shine.
Although I am still a “dreamer” and still imagine all the wild possibilities my journey can take me, my experiences have now whittled my vision and point of view and what I stand for into a very sharp tool that I now know how to use effectively and efficiently. It’s my time!
Tell us about your brand’s origin story. How did you decide it was time to launch your own brand?
As someone who loves product, it was so frustrating to find clothing that only checked one of my boxes. I started thinking about how to effectively and realistically check all the boxes I wanted (all-natural quality fabrics, ecological dyes, an amazing fit, ethical manufacturing, comfort) and create something that fulfilled me as an artist but also helped move the industry in a better direction. Then the big kicker, how to do all that AND offer it at a price that wouldn’t leave a major group of consumers feeling left out. Not EVERYONE can afford designer-level goods. That’s how by REESE DE LUCA was born and evolved.
As a brand focused in loungewear, the pandemic served its purpose, showing me that people really wanted comfortable transeasonal loungewear and want to look good wearing it. While some people would say that re-launching your brand during a pandemic could prove difficult, with so many changes going on in the industry right now, it just felt right. You can’t fight your intuition when it’s served you so well as a creative person before.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned in driving the success of your business? Also, any unfavorable personal qualities you’ve been able to turn into an asset?
The world is changing and there is room for smaller brands and that being successful doesn’t mean you have to be in a major or the coolest store-of-the-moment. I’ve learnt not to compare myself to others and to just sit back and enjoy the personal successes that I’ve achieved. I’ve always thought too much about the future and never took the time to enjoy the now. By tuning into the now and connecting with my customers, I was able to learn more about what they care about and what they really want.
What’s in the way of real change in the industry right now?
Dinosaurs! Fashion has operated the same way it has for a long time. The industry was dominated by big players whose biggest concern was making profit. The world has changed. People now want to know where their stuff is made, that the people making their stuff are treated right and that the brand they’re buying from cares about more than just profit. (Let’s not forget about carbon footprint and sustainability too!). I think it’s time for things to change and I feel like a lot of these younger brands get that and are really trying hard to make a change in how things are done.
What do you hope to contribute to the space with your platform?
Will I change the world? Probably not! If I can help to change and define the way people think about fashion around me, just by creating clothing, then I know that I’m doing the right thing and helping to push fashion towards a more inclusive, ecological and thoughtful future.