Being an up-and-coming fashion designer is no easy task. It’s great to have ideas and the ability to have your creations come to life, but to actually get noticed is another daunting obstacle. Allow us to introduce you to Nineteenth Amendment, a fashion company that brings rising designers and eager consumers together. Co-founders Gemma Sole and Amanda Curtis created Nineteenth Amendment since they believe “everyone has a right to choose how to make the system—and their closets—a better place.”
Recently, the company partnered with Macy’s to give even more consumers a chance to discover and support independent designers. We spoke with the duo behind Rein London, whose clothing you can purchase through Macy’s x Nineteenth Amendment, to learn more about their line and what it’s like working in the industry.
Cliché: How did you first hear about Nineteenth Amendment, and what does it mean to be a part of it?
Rein London: We actually came across them online by accident! It was just after our first London Fashion Week (February this year) and we were researching a couple of sales outlets when we came across Amanda and Gemma’s new endeavor, ‘Nineteenth Amendment.’ We were very intrigued by their unique business model that allows them to expose new brands like us without taking too many risks. It meant we would both share in the risk, which, when you’re starting out, is a huge deal, as you don’t know how one particular market will receive you. If you do well, great! But if you don’t, normally that sales channel wouldn’t purchase from you again the following season. This business is all about consistency. With Nineteenth Amendment, it allows for the brand to be tested with minimal risk, but also understands that a new brand takes time to build that following. Their minimal-risk model keeps both sides happy, allowing the brand to grow naturally.
For us, it was really lovely to meet two women in the same industry, doing it together, and doing so well. It really inspires us to keep going and keep expanding. Being part of Nineteenth Amendment has been amazing and we’re really glad to have got onboard with this business model so early. It is the way the industry/digital is going without a doubt.
What is it like to know that your designs are fluttering around the fashionistas in the United States, who admire your work?
It’s an incredible feeling! You spend so much time agonizing over every aspect of the design/development processes that knowing they end up on someone and have given that person the confidence and empowerment you set out to achieve is the most amazing feeling. That’s what it’s all about for us.
It also really helps us to know that Amanda and Gemma are so genuine and on point with our brand. Every time we see pictures of them wearing REIN or writing up blog posts or newsletters or interviews, they always get us. We have a strong vision for REIN and what it means and how it should be communicated. It’s a little scary handing over something so personal and hoping the brand is released in the desired way, especially when they are half way across the world! But we have never had to worry. They have been so perfectly on point that sometimes it feels like they understand REIN way more than we do!
Did your aesthetics automatically complement one another or did it take some time to figure out the route you wanted to go with REIN?
When we met, we kind of fell into the roles we excelled at/enjoyed, so Rebecca designs and Gemma develops. The bold, black, graphic aesthetic emerged in the beginning, but we were studying, so influences were all over the place. This aesthetic came a lot from inspirations at the time, especially the focus on the relationship with the body and clothing, which are still similar to today. However, I think now more than ever you can see both of us within the collections, where our voice is beginning to refine.
The past six months feel like [ages] in how we have been evolving and developing our voice, honing REIN’s message and what it means. The one thing we always knew starting up in this industry was that we wanted a brand with more backbone than just creating a line of aesthetically pleasing clothing. If we were going to do it, it needed more to it. It needed a message, a voice. It needed to mean something—ideally to help the world in some way. So I guess it’s this that we have been working on. We are still honing our voice, and it will continue to grow and evolve. I don’t think it will ever be complete.
How do you go about getting noticed in an industry where it’s sometimes hard to be seen?
Noise. It’s a tough industry, but exciting. It’s challenging and that’s addictive. For us, it’s about taking a more unusual or less traditional approach. We don’t want to follow, but to carve our own path, and maybe doing something differently won’t work. Maybe it’s too different and unusual, but you won’t know until you try, and we’d much rather risk it than follow the traditional route.
For our recent Spring/Summer collection presentation at LFW, for example, we staged our presentation within one of the showrooms inside the official venue. We had the girls enter from the streets [and caused] an uproar outside the venue before they went up into the presentation space. REIN is about empowering, confidence, body acceptance, and crushing what is seen as socially acceptable and gender boundaries—so we had two of our eight street-cast models completely naked under their very revealing dresses.
HEROINE is for strong, powerful women. How would you describe your personal style? Do you ever wear your own designs to see what feedback you may receive on the street?
HEROINE is for strong, powerful women, but most importantly it is for all women—to empower, strengthen, and give confidence. We do wear our own designs. We tend to use ourselves as fit models as it makes sense for us to be wearing the clothes, but more importantly, this way we get a real representation of a standard and true size, not an abnormally long and thin size, as tends to be with industry models. “You are your best free marketing tool.” It is surprising how well this works, even with people who don’t know you, but come up on the streets to ask where the dress is from.
Speaking of wearing your designs… Some of your pieces have already been worn by some big names! Who’s someone you’d love to see wear your clothes?
We would love to FKA twigs to wear REIN. We recently had Skin from Skunk Anansie wear a couple of our pieces for an upcoming album launch and for us she is absolutely, perfectly, incredibly on brand.
What are your current ideas for your next collection?
You will have to wait and see!
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Rein London for Nineteenth Amendment: Photograph courtesy of REIN