Meet the friends who channeled their vintage obsession into RIXO, a London-based line of contemporary clothes that fashion editors love.
By Britt Burritt
"I think the first thing I asked Orlagh was, 'Where's your bag from?' I'd been eying it since our first class together," says Henrietta Rix, cofounder and creative director of RIXO, about meeting her partner Orlagh McCloskey. "It was vintage, of course."
The best friends met at the London College of Fashion, where both were studying fashion management. They worked well together on several projects and quickly bonded over their enthusiasm for thrifting. "We've loved vintage for as long as we can both remember. We have it to thank for becoming friends," McCloskey says. "We'd scour charity shops and vintage fairs together all over London," says Rix. "We still make time to do this now. Whenever we go anywhere abroad, the first thing we do is look up where the best flea markets, vintage boutiques, charity shops and Salvation Army stores are."
With their shared aesthetic and similar fashion instincts, McCloskey and Rix quickly identified the potential for a future endeavor. In the four years since they launched RIXO, their self-financed business has grown almost as quickly as the two became friends. Last year they moved their operation out of their living room and into a workspace in the Fulham neighborhood of West London. The open floor plan is full of their finds—furniture and artwork they've accumulated from their travels and talent for scouting. "My favorite pieces have to be our large antique porcelain tigers and leopards which stand guard in our office," says McCloskey.
Their vibrant, hand-painted prints, flattering shapes and fine fabrics easily found a dedicated following—including fashion editors and celebrities. "We loved seeing Margot Robbie in our printed Georgia skirt and Moss blouse. We are big fans of Sandra Bullock too, so when we saw her in our printed silk Rose dress we were thrilled," Rix shares. "Eva Chen chose our sequin Coco dress for her book tour. Demi Moore and Aimee Song were also spotted sporting some RIXO sequins, and they looked stunning!" exclaims Rix. "That being said, it's equally if not more satisfying seeing the images we receive from our customers through our #HumansofRixo hashtag on Instagram," says Rix, who personally manages the company's account.
Spring 2019 was inspired by their '80s icons: Princess Diana, Jerry Hall, Brooke Shields and Madonna. It's called Love over Gold, the title of Princess Di's favorite Dire Straits album. Mismatched florals, polka dots and zebra prints are just some of the many bold patterns designed by McCloskey for the season. There's a timelessness to RIXO's styles that likely derives from the duo's eye for vintage and that appeals to women of all ages. It's intentional. "The idea for RIXO came from wanting to fill genuine gaps in not just our wardrobes but also in our friends', mums', grandmothers'," Rix says. Their marketing and fashion presentations reflect the diversity of their fanbase.
"We feel really passionately that RIXO is made for all women regardless of age, size, nationality. In our presentations we always make sure that we have a diverse representation of women wearing our pieces—all ages, shapes and backgrounds," says McCloskey. "In our debut London Fashion Week presentation for spring 2019, we found one of the ladies who modeled in the show at our local gym, and we also had a mother and daughter modeling together."
Part of cultivating this inclusivity is creating value for customers: their quality, lovely clothes don't price out the women they want to dress. "RIXO is self-funded by both Henrietta and me. We don't have any investors, so we don't work to a certain margin for pricing," explains McCloskey. "We work backwards, looking first at what we think the true value of something is and what we would be happy to pay for it ourselves as a customer."
And the two do wear their own designs, often mixing them with their vintage treasures. "I love wearing RIXO dresses with a pair of Doc Martens for the daytime," Rix says. "My favorite way to wear them in the day is with Gucci mule loafers and layering a chunky knit over the top for the cold weather," McCloskey responds. "To dress it up for the evening, Henrietta and I would both swap out our flats for a pair of vintage heels."