Interview With Leeds Fashion Designer Rebecca Rhoades

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The Early Threads of Passion

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Rebecca Rhoades is the name to know in fashion right now. Empowering women through fashion, each piece designed and manufactured in-house is intended to celebrate femininity with timeless designs, luxurious fabrics, and intricate detail. Whatever the Leeds-based designer turns her hand to seems to turn to gold (or a whole host of colours that burst from her designs) – and the writing appeared to be on the wall right from an early age.

“I started making clothes at 10,” she looks back. “My father taught me how to use a sewing machine while making costumes for the local school play. I created my first dress at school in home economics at the age of 12 and I vividly remember it now – it was a black baby doll dress with thin straps,” Rebecca grins.

“I think being creative was the only thing I was as a child,” she adds. “I used to make everything from clothes, candles, jewellery, flower arrangements (my parents were florists), printing on t-shirts and tie dying… anything I could get my hands on, even my dad’s socks! I went to college and studied graphic design for a year, but in every project I completed I added an element of fashion through printing the graphics on a t-shirt or fabric and then making it into a dress. I used to stay late and just watch the fashion students work and sew, I was fascinated to learn, and my tutor soon realised I was on the wrong course and swapped me onto fashion.”

Unfurling Dreams into Reality

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When she moved from Birmingham to Leeds to head to university, the seeds of her future success were sowed. “I’ve always been a bit of a hustler, and coming from a family who worked for themselves, I set up a small business while I was still in university making clothes for a few of the shops in Leeds,” she explains. “Accent and Blue Rinse were the first shops I ever sold or created pieces for. It was such a creative time in Leeds. I secured a little studio behind the Corn Exchange and worked day and night while still studying – that was over 20 years ago.”

Launching her brand, it seems, was always on the cards. “I’ve always known this is my life goal,” she states, “it’s something I’ve never had any question about. I’ve worked tirelessly towards this for the majority of my life. I’ve tried before and it has failed, I’ve learnt, picked myself up and tried again. I have an undeniable self-belief and unwavering work ethic that will put me exactly where I want to be with this brand.

Nature’s Muse: The Spring24 Collection

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“I’ve always wanted to be different and stand out for my talent and work ethic,” Rebecca adds. “I don’t believe in doing anything half-heartedly and have always given my all to anything I’ve set my mind. I wanted to create clothing that stood out and made people notice you.”

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Recently, Rebecca’s spring24 collection landed in our inbox, and the designs blew us away, a mix of vibrant colours, floral patterns, and intricate detailing. “I like to take some time away from the office to be surrounded by nature and be able to breathe,” she says about creating new collections. “I love nature and the Yorkshire Dales; getting out of the office and away from the day-to-day pressures of running a brand is key to my success. I always start with the ideas of print and then start to draw. I still draw pencil to paper, as much as I love the digital aspect of my work there is something much more creative about drawing with a pencil.

Championing Sustainable Luxury

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“We create luxury designs that stand the test of time, the prints and shapes we create are timeless and are staple wardrobe pieces that can be worn repeatedly,” Rebecca adds on the angle of slow fashion. “They are not throw-away pieces but designs that can be brought out for special occasions. We also make everything with an all-female, local workforce of talented seamstresses in Leeds. It’s all made to order, so there is no waste. It’s the opposite business model of a globalised fast fashion brand.”

Looking Forward: Brand Expansion and Alternative Bridal Wear

So far, so good regarding 2024 and the Rebecca Rhoades brand. “We have launched into 40 stores across the UK and Ireland, and we are introducing an alternative bridal range into the collection,” she says. “We want to grow the brand via online and wholesale customers, expanding the reach into overseas markets and a retail concept unlike anything else on the market. We want to become the go-to luxury dress for every event a woman has where she wants to feel her best.”

A Humble Reflection

Absolutely suggests she is pretty much there already, but it’s something that Rebecca swats away. “I still don’t feel like I’ve made it,” she insists, “I am not sure I ever really will feel like that as I always want to strive for more and be better than I was. Seeing my name in print and images of my clothing still blows me away. I am not sure I will ever get used to it.”

To read more about Rhoades’s inspiring path in fashion and her commitment to empowering women with her designs, visit rebeccarhoades.com.

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