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Rich & Skinny Designers on Details, Denim and Teamwork

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Photos by Elizabeth Daniels

In November 2006, a line of denim emerged designed for women to want to wear. Flattering, comfortable with all of the season's hottest trends? Yes, please. Rich and Skinny was launched by Michael Glasser of Seven for All Mankind and Citizens of Humanity, basically your everyday superstar of the industry.

Ever since its conception, the brand that is known for its signature silhouettes and soft hand has been putting out popular styles like the Legacy, the staple Skinny and a more relaxed Skinny Ankle Peg. "Does it make a woman feel sexy? Is it relevant? Is it effortless? These are all questions we ask ourselves when designing," Nicole King-Burroughs, the brand's creative director told us of the brand's aesthetic.

The Rich and Skinny design team is comprised of five women working in full-on collaboration mode to create up to twelve styles a season, all layered in different fabrics. "We all have different styles so we melt them together," explained designer Ariel Bradley. According to King-Burroughs, the Rich and Skinny brand depends on their mix of fashion with chemistry, so experimenting with great washes is a key part of the process and fit is always key. Working seasons ahead, they are currently knee-deep in Spring 2014, the designers focus on what sold well in seasons past as well as what trends are around the corner-and they love it. "It's really great to get up in the morning and be excited about where you're going," gushed King-Burroughs.

We took a road trip, by LA standards, to the Rich and Skinny Headquarters in Vernon where we set down with King-Burroughs and designers Bradley and Annie Campbell. They gave us the lowdown on how the mild group of women maintains their busy schedule, delegates between themselves and of course, the big pay-off.

Explain the Rich and Skinny design process.
Nicole: "We start with tear sheets to get the general mood, color palette and direction. Once we all agree on that we start building our boards; there we address new washes and trend ideas. Fit, fabric and finish. Then, Michael blesses the idea."
Annie: "He really pushes the development. Not just the sketching and designing but also the washes and the fabric."

What happens once Michael has approved the overall mood?
Nicole: "The sketch-a-thon starts. I'll sketch something quickly [by hand] and then beg someone to put it into the system so it's formal! Then we decide on fabric and what wash."
Ariel: "It has to go to the pattern maker and I put together the detail sheets. We have to decide how we are going to construct it, what kind of seams we are going to use, what color thread, trims, all that stuff. So we work together with the pattern maker and it gets handed off to sewing. And then we get to play with it at the wash house."

Where do you look to find the general mood for the season?
Nicole: "It's a combination of places. A lot of blogs and honestly, I enjoy people watching. I like to see what real people are wearing."
Annie: "You like the vintage too."
Nicole: "Yeah, I like taking from vintage and making the pieces look modern."

How do you delegate everything between the designers?
Nicole: "We have what is basically a to-do list. I usually start one Sunday night and everyone adds to it. We try to divvy it up."
Ariel: "Communication is really a big thing here because every single person has to be on the same page or things get crazy. We keep a good flow."

Describe a typical week.
Nicole: "Our ideal calendar would be that on Mondays we sit together and get organized then on Tuesday morning we sit down with production and deal with anything that might slow production down, any information we might have that could help. We also try to go to our print house on Tuesday afternoons. We try to keep Wednesday as our blocked-out days where there are no meetings and we can be creative, sketching, collaborating, brainstorming and thinking forward. Ideally, Thursday morning we are at the washhouse with fittings that afternoon. Fridays we try and wrap up the week, complete the to-do list and do market research."

How is it working in Vernon?
Nicole: "Everything we need to do is here, the wash houses are three blocks away. Prima-Tex is 30 minutes away. Everything that we need to have our hands on is close by."

What is the most exciting part of the process?
Nicole: "Honestly, when the bags come back from the washhouse, we all run to them."
Annie: "It's like Santa Claus!"
Ariel: "Also when Michael likes something, that's really exciting."
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