Get to know Kansas City, Kansas based designer Rachel Pollak of Rachel Pollak Designs and read about her “Mid-Winter Sunset Collection” below.

How and why did you start designing?

Ever since I was young I wanted to feel like no one had the clothing I did. I used to go shopping in thrift stores for pieces that were different from what everyone was buying at the department stores. I never understood the desire to blend in with my peers, and over the years I grew an increasing interest in fashion. Fashion for me was a really fun way to express myself. In my junior year of high school I decided to take some fashion design classes, close to home, at Johnson County Community College. I took that passion with me, and I immediately knew that designing clothing was the right fit. Now, I am using my knowledge and creative energy to design looks that are new and different, yet very wearable.  Everything in my collection is made as locally and as high quality as possible.

What is your fashion philosophy?

Rachel Pollak Designs Fur Vest

I believe fashion should be #overdressedcasual and should compliment a woman’s body. One of my focuses in designing clothing is to make a woman feel beautiful, feminine, and confident. Clothing should be empowering. For this reason, the cut of my designs are developed to flatter a woman’s best features by removing unnecessary bulk and adding design lines that create figure flattering illusions. I also keep in mind that every woman should have pieces in her closet that can be accessorized and layered to create different looks. That way pieces can be worn from day to night and help her express her individual style. In addition to designing classic silhouettes, I always look for ways to add a unique touch. I want any woman who wears my designs to feel proud to be a woman. Special. Classy. Fashionable. 

How has your design changed over time?

I have been doing fashion design for about three years now creating six runway collections including NYFW F/W 2018. I think my design aesthetic has become more focused with every collection. I’ve learned how to use design lines, accents, and fabrics to flatter the female figure. When clothing makes someone feel beautiful, they gain the confidence to achieve greater things.  For example, the Moon Goddess dress has a pleated material on the bodice portion which crosses over the bust line flattering the shape of her chest. Understanding the importance of thinking in this way has greatly improved my designs over time.

What inspired your latest collection?

As a young designer I have experimented as my aesthetic has focused. There are things to learn from every experience. I’ve learned that letting go of the negative experiences in life leaves so much room for inspiration and success. A sunset paints that picture perfectly. There is nothing more poetic than the parting of a day and the dawn of a new one.  This was the inspiration for my F/W 2018 collection. Flowers and metallic fabrics represent the glow and romance that the sun creates as it sets on a winter’s night. From the burgundy and pinks of a sunset to the silvers and blues of night, the color palette paints this story. Each garment is constructed from vegan suede, vegan fur, stretchy plisse, and heavy weight knit. They make the perfect new additions for mixing, matching, and layering in the up and coming fall/winter months.

What is your biggest hurdle building a brand today?

Starting a business is never an easy task. One of the biggest hurdles is sourcing and promoting. Social media has made it possible to market to a larger audience than ever before; however, it is difficult to get noticed in a sea of millions of people. This is why it is so important to have sites like Nineteenth Amendment that help build a following and support local manufactures. For a small business, sourcing materials can be challenging when everything is overseas. Local manufactures help small business designers by not being as complicated to work with as manufactures overseas.

What do you think about fashion today?

I think that fashion is slowly moving in the right direction. Fashion, for too long, had been about fast fashion, big business, mass market, and overseas production. Quality and small businesses lost their cultural value, but now I’m seeing this begin to change. People are increasingly supportive of local business and USA manufacturing which creates competition in the marketplace. This shift will also help more designers develop on their own terms like many of the designers of the past. I would love fashion to return to the days when people purchased exclusively quality over quantity; however, I’m really happy to see it begin to improve in quality which is a good first step.

Where do you go and what do you do for inspiration?

I find inspiration in so many places. I like to start with deciding the mood I want to set by finding inspirational fabrics. For example, the metallic floral knit in my F/W 2018 collection, Midwinter Sunset, reminded me how light reflects during a winter sunset. This created the kick off point for the rest of this collection.Once I have found a handful of fabrics and trims I like, I sit down and sketch. I let the way I am feeling flow into the designs, and use each sketch to inspire more designs. One policy I try to adhere to is not looking at other designer’s work while I design. I find it too easy to accidentally find my looks mirroring other designers’ work when I’m exposed to it during the creative process. I want everything my brand releases to be original and specially developed with a purpose. I would say one of the main things I try to do is to have days off because I find most of my best ideas come to me when my mind is clear and not thinking about all the things I need to get done. I find myself inspired when watching a TV show, listening to a song, or sometimes chopping vegetable in the kitchen. I think the interesting thing about creative arts is that inspiration usually comes from a jumble of many different things that come together to create something beautiful.

Any tips and tricks of the trade?

Don’t design too much before browsing your fabric options. Particularly for a small business that doesn’t buy overseas, finding the fabric to fit my vision can be difficult and disheartening. When you find your fabric first you don’t have to go through the challenge of altering the perfect idea. I would also say to never give up on a dream and remember to enjoy every moment you can.

What is your brand aesthetic and what makes your brand unique?

The aesthetic of my brand is very sophisticated, modern, and feminine. The fits and lines are classic with a touch of something new. Materials are carefully selected for quality and tactile appeal. It’s all about a good first impression, confidence, and living every day looking your best with ease.