New Designer to Watch!
When opportunity knocks…answer it! Rachel and Tucker, creators of the crowd-favorite laser-cut one-piece swimsuit, certainly did and it has now brought them all the way to being crowned champions of our challenge. Now, the duo sat down with Designow to reflect on the experience as well as talk beginnings, teamwork, style, and the importance of self-promotion.
Being a designer has been a long-standing dream for Rachel. “I’ve always been interested in the creative sides of things”, she explains. “Around 7th or 8th grade I was watching my friend draw a dress and it was such a small, random moment but I realized…why not apply all this creative thought to something that could be translated into the real world and that people could interact with every day?” The young designer values self-expression through clothing, admiring the way fashion can be the intersection between the quotidian and the fine arts. Perhaps this can be attributed to her atypical design education background from Cornell University, which was able to give her a more holistic and well-rounded view on the discipline. With a graduating class of only about 18 people, the Fashion program split into three majors – Design, Business Management and Fiber Science – allowing the students to explore all facets of the field. “I love design,” Rachel tells Designow, “but I wanted to bring other perspectives back into it, so it’s not just this one way of thinking or only one avenue.”
Though she greatly admires Alexander McQueen, Rachel pulls inspiration from all around her. Her previous collection from the Spring was based off of “Reptilian scales and the idea of the skeletal structure juxtaposing the outer skins and the inner body structure to bring this balance of harmony between the two.” This concept of storytelling is present in her laser-cut swimsuit as well, which she bases on the idea of shattered glass. “You know the clean, sleek, alluring quality of glass, but also his dangerous one… I wanted to channel that into this bathing suit,” she explains. “This idea of sexiness, while also kind of bringing out the beauty in it.”
When Rachel first entered the team into the competition, she humbly states she did not think they would win. The Designow platform had peaked her interest during an event at Cornell University – from which both she and Tucker recently graduated – and eventually found its way back to her again as she began working on her portfolio and website, scouring the internet for design-related resources. Rachel tells Designow that what really drew her in was the inclusivity of the site and how, no matter what background or experience level you were, you had a fair shot at having your design made. This is something these two young designers got to experience first hand! “It was pretty cool to see it come to life”, Rachel tells Designow. “When we were making it, we were not actually thinking that it would have been produced in large amounts or anything like that… so to reach that level was really amazing.” The collaboration between Rachel and Tucker began as two young designers working together for an in-class assignment to design a bathing suit. Using the schools’ laser cutters, they created the suit. Now, they’re looking forward to having it distributed and seeing it worn. “I could really see very confident young women maybe in their 20s or 30s wearing it,” Rachel raves. “I envision it pool side. It’s kind of like a lounging luxury swimsuit.” Claiming it as her favorite bathing suit, Rachel will be wearing it, too!
Regardless of where you start, one universal truth is always applicable to success: teamwork and collaboration are key. Rachel and Tucker are the perfect embodiment of this, both bringing a different skill set to the table. Coming from different majors, Rachel took on the design aspect as Tucker focused on production. “I helped her make it into a suit that could be worn and actually manufactured, while she was making it pleasing to the eye,” Tucker tells Designow. “We fed off of each other a lot and played to each other’s strengths to create the best product that we could.” Rachel concurs. “The main thing I took away from working with Designow is just being able to work on a common goal and I also learned to compromise.”
Another major constituent to their success was social media. As an active Instagram and Facebook user, Rachel (with the help of Tucker) took to the platforms to advertise and promote their design, ultimately contributing to their victory. “We ended up starting to get a lot of votes and likes,” Rachel tells Designow, “and then Tucker started to help me advertise it a lot more and we started getting even more votes. That was when I realized we could actually win if we continued advertising on social media.” She plans on using social media even more now as a way to grow her brand, showing special appreciation for the support her friends and followers have given her over the course of her growth as a designer.
Though she may not know details of where she wants to be in 10 years, one thing is for certain: Rachel has every intention of continuing to work towards her dream of being a renown designer. As Tucker gravitates towards the production end of the spectrum with a job for Nike, Rachel plans to move to New York in the fall as she embarks on building her fashion career, perhaps even finding her way back to Designow once more! “I really enjoyed working with Designow. I feel like I learned so much on the production side, sitting in on fitting meetings, it was just all around a good experience that I wouldn’t normally get to see at such a young age” says Rachel. Be sure to follow her success @byrachelkwong, and we hope to see more of her in the very near future!