Fashion Week

How It Rolls at rag & bone’s Headquarters—and Backstage—on the Day of the Big Show

At rag & bone‘s Meatpacking District headquarters, even the elevator guy wears rag & bone. The industrial lift is sort of fashion famous—Vogue once included a shot of it—probably because it so perfectly describes the raw, nuanced Euro-Americana vibe of the brand.

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All images by Kirby Calvin

“We’re all always in rag & bone,” says /JEAN director of sales Ariel Buckley, who’s currently wearing the Mallori sweater as a late-summer dress with some Shelby ankle boots. It’s 10am on the day of the brand’s spring runway reveal, and we’re here to check out how the crew preps on such an important day; later we’ll meet back up at the show.

But for now …

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First, a stop at Jack’s, because that’s how pretty much everyone on the rag & bone team starts their day. The coffeeshop and mini-flagship store are on the ground floor of the building—convenient for all the obvious caffeine-related reasons, but also in the event that midway through the day, someone books a dinner date, for example, and decides a style changeup is in order. (We’ve all been there.)

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And in case you’re wondering: yes, it does happen that a half dozen people sit down at a conference room table in the same pair of standout denim or matching easy/sporty dresses.

“It just proves that it’s a bestseller when that happens,” says Ariel as she shows us around the brand’s offices.

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At 2pm, her team will gather for a preshow meeting to hear the design team talk about vital inspiration and big messages; that’s when they’ll get to see the new pieces, up-close and personal. You might wonder why that meeting is just a mere six hours before curtain time. The thing is, nothing is final in fashion until it’s showtime. Edits and tweaks roll out every day, maybe every hour in the weeks leading up to the presentation, and you always see seamstresses with their needles flying during the final moments backstage. And then, just when it all needs to be ready, it’s ready.

Which isn’t to say the rag & bone squad don’t have a lot of insight and dialog throughout the entire process. I ask Ariel what her favorite element of the spring collection is.

“The florals—definitely new and unexpected for rag & bone and the perfect feminine balance to the more sporty pieces.”

She explains that a rag & bone collection is always going to hit some key notes: British tailoring, American heritage, sport and military. (Those officer’s coats, though, right?) “These tenets carry through every season, but for spring they have a more overtly feminine twist.”

We couldn’t stick around until that afternoon inner circle unveiling (best to let them get some work done, after all), but by 6pm we meet back up with a freshly re-outfitted Ariel (in the Nina silk dress), along with Sarah Crane (below, left), director of sales for women’s ready-to-wear. Together we all head into the backstage rooms at Skylight Clarkson North, where the cool-girl, cool-guy models—the men’s and women’s collections are presented together—are in various stages of street clothes and runway-ready hair and makeup.

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Knowing well the hurry-up-and-wait game of the preshow hours, Ariel and I post up next to a giant tangle of phone plugs near the beauty teams and talk about what’s to come, before eventually moving on to the wardrobe room right as the night starts to kick it up a notch.

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I love the attitude the girls give off when styled in a mix of hard and soft pieces,” Ariel says. “I love the silver chokers, natural hair, patterns, stripes and denim. It’s got a strong sporty and urban voice, but we balanced it out with some really feminine pieces.”

“I love the tension we create when feminine and masculine ideas collide.”

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Soon enough, showtime really is imminent, and we part ways to find our places on the runway—where a science fiction-esque, early ’80s nostalgic light show and soundtrack by Radiohead’s Thom Yorke with Tem Studio and Kris Bones will create a brainy, future/past vibe thick with mood, adventure and abstracted memory.

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Later I’ll learn that Ariel sat within earshot of Anna Wintour, and that all the employees who couldn’t come to the show because of space restrictions watched via live feed at Brass Monkey, the bar around the corner from their office that’s like an extended after-hours anti-cubicle zone.

What’s it like to work at rag & bone during Fashion Week—or any other time? It seems pretty dang cool.

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—Laura Cassidy