Monogramming and basket bags have both become quite a trend these days, and Rae Feather was something of a pioneer when created her wicker baskets with initials back in 2013. These quickly became favourites for globetrotters and Londoners alike. The British designer has just launched a capsule dress and kaftan collection, using her favourite cheesecloth material; they are designed to be worn everywhere, from the beach to dinner by the moonlight, and would even suit summer in the city perfectly.
What made you take the plunge and create Rae Feather?
I had a very eclectic career. I worked in sports marketing and luxury marketing, I designed furniture, and I worked in interior design. While I wasn’t a fashion aficionado, I loved fashion. I loved natural fabrics, simple shapes and classic pieces that have a long shelf life. Finding affordable fashion that encapsulated all of these elements was not easy, so I decided to start my own label.
How did your previous experience with sales and marketing help in establishing your own brand?
Sales and marketing is about human relationships. It’s about smart, honest communication. These elements are essential in all areas of what I do within the brand. Integrity is important; if I didn’t believe in my brand I couldn’t sell it.
Your name is so whimsical, was it an idea you’ve always had to use it as your brand name or was it a quick decision?
I played with so many options but always come back to my name. I dug deep and decided to go with it. At the beginning I was very self-conscious but today I can easily separate myself from the brand name. I barely notice now, and thinking about it I am secretly quite proud.
Tell me a bit about your just-unveiled SS18 collection and your first-ever kaftan/beachwear line? What’s your favourite piece?
I have always loved cottons, cheesecloths, natural fabrics. I could spend hours looking at Yves Saint Laurent in his Marrakech days. I’m quite spiritual and free-spirited and I guess creating pieces that represent that ethos is where my heart is at. The collection ticks these boxes. I love the cheesecloth collection and the embroidery cotton dress.
Portugal is a special place for you and your family and is home to your standalone boutique. What do you like about the Algarve and does it inspire you for your collections?
Portugal is very raw. Its coastline is rugged and unspoiled. It is a no-fuss country with few fancy restaurants, good wholesome food fresh from the land and sea, and wonderful wines. All things natural ‒ that is how I want my brand portrayed.
What was the first piece you created for Rae Feather?
A great cotton shirt that I still wear, and in fact we are about to reintroduce in the collection.
Do you look after the sourcing of materials? And where is everything made? I understand craftsmanship is important to you and your brand.
Right now we source out of India. It used to be known for fast fashion, but the quality out of India was sometimes questionable. It is quite the opposite today. A lot of luxury brands source and produce out of India. I work with a great factory which has huge experience and although we had a few teething problems they do a great job.
What’s your go-to outfit?
I like to always feel like I can breathe in what I wear. I like simple lines. I like natural fabrics. Today I’m wearing black culottes, white Stan Smith trainers and a crisp white oversized cotton shirt with a black Mongolian fur gilet.
If you could go on a shopping trip anywhere in the world where would that be?London for city wear; the street markets of Saint-Tropez or Ibiza for beachwear.
Who is the Rae Feather customer and what does she look for in your brand?
The range is vast. We have six-month-old babies who are proud owners of our little monogrammed baskets, and we have customers in their 80s who love the relaxed kaftans that are flattering for all ages and can be dressed up or down.
What’s your favourite place for lunch or dinner in London?
For lunch, Delfino in Mount Street, which serves the best pizza and burrata in town. For dinner ‒ very tough ‒ I’d say Bocca di Lupo in Soho. It’s the best Italian restaurant outside Italy and the staff are gorgeous.
What is your go-to skincare and make-up routine?
I have just been introduced to Votary, which is made from essential oils. The cleanser and night oil are off the scale. I don’t wear much make-up. I use Studio 10 foundation ‒ it is fantastic for mature skin. I use Mac face powder to even it out, Chanel mascara, Bobbi Brown natural lipstick and Mac bronzer on my cheekbones.
What’s next for Rae Feather?
Right now growing the brand has to be my aim, but my wish is to build a lifestyle brand with travel being the focus. I’d love a great flagship store in London selling all things travel and lifestyle. It would be mainly stocked with my own brand but have a smattering of other brands that fit alongside.
Find Rae Feather at Harvey Nichols, 109-125 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7RJ, +44 (0)20 7235 5000