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Coffee Talk: Kate and Laura of Rodarte On Their Starbucks Collab

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Image via Starbucks
Image via Starbucks

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It's like a challenge born out of some sort of Project Runway All-Stars-esque reality show. Invite Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte, designers lauded in the fashion industry for their couture-like designs and attention to detail, to come up with a clever take on one of the most ubiquitous logos out there: the Starbucks Siren. The resulting design must be small enough to fit on a gift card, appealing to not only the fashion elite but also consumers nationwide and has to be approved by the higher-ups at Starbucks corporate.

We caught up with the Pasadena-born sisters in Culver City at their low-key launch party to find out how they approached the project and how this surprising partnership came about.

Whose idea was the collaboration?
Kate: "It's weird because Laura and I are always in Starbucks, we always drink so much coffee, that it seemed like maybe this would have happened naturally anyway. But they did approach us. It's an interesting challenge. So it was really cool for us."

How many cups do you drink a day?
Laura: "One in the morning, but we drink espresso. Three shots on ice with soy milk. But during our show, I have coffee at night too."

You are known for being a bit cerebral. How did you approach this collaboration?
Kate: "What was really exciting was working with a brand that has such a signature visual identity and culture. Everyone recognizes the Starbucks logo. Laura and I immediately immersed ourselves in trying to find a way to play with that visual culture and reinterpreting it. It was interesting to start from something that was very iconic and known—and with products, not clothing. As a clothing designer, you think about what you're making, not what you're putting on it. We had to have a concept that we could build product out of instead of just saying well, we have an idea for a collection and this color represents that and playing with silhouettes. You have to get your point across on top of a card."

What were Starbucks' guidelines for you?
Laura: "Well they didn't have any! They were creatively open. We did pixilate their logo and I'm surprised that everyone was all for it. Everything had to be approved, though. These kinds of collaborations and partnerships are really about what you bring to the table and we were fascinated by their branding, so that allowed us to come together to do something that was innovative."

What's next for you?
Kate: "Our show. You gotta do it in November because December is kind of hairy territory and then January hits and then your show is in February. We're working on that."

Can you tell us anything about it?
Kate: "Unfortunately, for us we really don't know what our shows are about until really late in the game. But we don't really talk about it anyway. Because we like to keep things creatively internal. I like to think about it for a long time before I put it out in the world. Then it's outside of your control."

Rodarte-designed gift cards, mugs, totes and cup sleeves will be available at Starbucks locations starting November 13th.
· Rodarte [Official Site]
· Starbucks [Official Site]
· With an Original Sketch, Rodarte Wishes You a Happy Halloween [Racked]
· Rodarte to Rachel Zoe: LA's Best Welcome NARS to Melrose [Racked]
· Rodarte Returns to the Ballet With Benjamin Millepied and MOCA [Racked]

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