New York-based designer Rebecca Minkoff is an industry leader in luxury handbags, accessories, footwear and apparel. From her 2001 version of the iconic “I Love New York” t-shirt, to her first handbag, 2005′s “Morning After Bag,” Minkoff has won over women with her “downtown romantic” aesthetic and playful and subtly edgy designs. In 2009, she returned to her roots in apparel design and introduced her first ready-to-wear collection to round her global lifestyle brand that is distributed in over 900 stores worldwide. This Wednesday, Minkoff will be launching her new “Elle” bag, an homage to fashion blogger Bryan Grey Yambao’s grandmother.
When is your New York flagship scheduled to open?
I’m so excited to open my New York Flagship store in SoHo! We don’t have an exact date, but it should be later this year. Stay tuned…!
What type of exclusive pieces will customers find there that aren't available at any of the other 900 retailers selling your collection?
There will definitely be exclusive pieces for the New York store. I can’t say what because we’re still working on it, but definitely something my NYC Minkettes will love!
Do you ever think, "Wow, how did I get here selling to 900 stores worldwide?"
Of course! I still remember selling my first bag to a boutique—that was such a big moment for me. To walk into a major department store and see my name and my product is still very humbling!
Was there a turning point for your brand?
Not necessarily a turning point, maybe more of a beginning point. When I was first starting out, I called my brother and told him I was considering taking a job at a restaurant because I heard it paid well, and I couldn’t really afford to keep my business running anymore. He said absolutely not and stepped in. He’s now the CEO of my company.
Growing up, did you ever think you and your brother would work together?
I can definitely say that I never thought we would work together! We’ve been working together very closely now for years, and it’s worked out perfectly!
Is there a future for menswear amongst your lifestyle categories?
Yes, we are actually re-launching the men’s brand, Ben Minkoff, with my brother, Uri as Creative Director.
Why do you think your customers are so responsive to the brand?
I think they are so responsive because they actually have a say. The Rebecca Minkoff brand is all about listening to our customers! We have a strong following on our social media channels and often use that as a way to crowd source to see what our Minkoff girl wants. If she doesn’t like a bag or a detail on a shoe, we listen! We take all of the feedback from our customers and put it to use to make our product better.
What made you decide it was time to add a denim line?
I love denim and know that my customer does too, so it seems like the organic next step to launch a denim line.
You attached a social message component to the denim collection with Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry®, how did this come about?
No child should grow up hungry. As a mother, this cause is very important to me. Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry® campaign is ending childhood hunger in America by ensuring all children get the healthy food they need, every day. The No Kid Hungry campaign connects kids in need to effective nutrition programs like school breakfast and summer meals and teaches low-income families to cook healthy, affordable meals through Cooking Matters.
How would you suggest new designers approach social media when entering the arena?
It’s different for everyone, but the best approach is to think about the message of the brand and make sure that it’s delivered on your social channels in the best way possible.
What is the most rewarding part of gaining feedback directly from your followers?
We do a weekly challenge on Instagram, #MYRM, where we ask our followers to tag photos of how they wear their Rebecca Minkoff. I absolutely love seeing how all of my customers wear their bags!
Why did you decide to name the 'Elle' bag after blogger Bryan Grey Yambao's grandmother?
Bryan is a good friend of mine, and when he talked about his grandmother, I thought it’d be great to have such a strong woman behind one of my bags.
How does this bag reflect the direction of your fall collection and your brand overall?
The Elle bag, in my mind, is the bag of a strong woman. I always design with strong women in mind!