Stepping into fall 2016 with Rebecca Minkoff

September 9, 2016

And here comes New York Fashion Week again!

In advance of Rebecca Minkoff’s runway show, we spoke to the designer a few weeks ago during her Toronto visit.

Minkoff was in town to promote her fall collection and spent the afternoon at Holt Renfrew’s Square One location. She chatted with fans, and personally signed their Rebecca Minkoff purses, totes and messenger bags.

We caught up with her in Canada to discuss the new line, her upcoming runway presentation and the changing landscape of the fashion industry. Then, on Sept.10, we covered her catwalk show in the Big Apple.

Read on below for our comprehensive coverage from Toronto and New York City.

The interview

Tell me about your fall collection. You have a lot of fringe coming back. How did this collection come together?

I purchased a book called Gypset, and it was about gypset travel, lifestyle, fashion, and just the idea today that most millennials are favouring travel as the new luxury.

I am most excited about the things I discover and buy abroad, that I get to bring back and that no one else has. The whole collection is influenced by this kind of new, global gypsetter, and the things that you covet and love the most. It’s drawn from a lot of different sources.

How did you choose the colours?

Each month is about six different colours – I picked colours that I felt complemented each other, that felt very fall, fresh. And then added pops of colour that are somewhat unexpected: like a mustard or an orange. Just to just give it a little bit of brightness.

In terms of fashion trends, what are the top three colours for fall 2016?

A good olive, a good burgundy. I think that brown is also having a moment. You can’t go wrong with a good chocolate brown.

You were the first designer who decided to show her line while simultaneously having it in stores. I remember you also updated a couple of looks for the show. What can we expect from your runway collection this time?

It’s still going to be see-buy-wear. The difference with fall is: the first fall collection hits in July, and it would be silly for me to show that because it’s already been out there, it might even be on sale. Similar with August. So we are going to be showing a lot of the collection that’s from September, October and November, which no one has seen. I’ll be showing through Resort, because it will really only be 30 days until the consumer can get the recent items. It will be all new things that, ideally, at the end of the show you can go buy 90% of. You will have to wait about 30 days for the other 10%.

Tell me more about the see-buy-wear approach. You and your brother have always been the ground breakers, doing a lot of things for the first time and then having other designers follow suit. Where did this particular idea come from? Was it something you thought about for a while? Was it a last-minute decision?

We have been talking about it for probably two years, and we couldn’t figure it out. We knew we couldn’t disrupt the supply chain: we knew when buyers needed to buy and when media needed to see the goods. I think there was an overwhelming feeling the season before we did it that people were bored. The consumer was frustrated, she has, you know, basically six months of product thrown in her face before she can even buy it. It’s copied by other people before I can get it on the floor. So, how do we ease her frustration and give her what she wants?

She wants to see it and buy it. That’s it. So, we still show to buyers when we would normally show to them. We still have press previews, when we would normally have them. The buyers and the press inform me and help me put my best foot forward, so that’s what the runway show is all about. It’s less of a gamble because people have voted for it in a way.

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You have a very international following. How does Canada fit into this? What kind of demographics do you target here?

Our primary outpost is Holt Renfrew. So, it’s whoever their demographic is. I wish we had Holt Renfrew in the States because you don’t feel like you are in a department store when you are here. You feel like you are having a beautiful, elevated luxury experience, that’s accessible. You don’t have that in the States.

You’ve said in the past that knowing the consumer has always been really important to your work. From the very beginning, you’ve wanted to reach out to consumers and ask for their feedback. So being here today and talking to your clients – both very young and sometimes much older – what is the experience like after all these years?

I think we are still finding a one-on-one – every time a girl is purchasing my bag, it is something that relates to a first that she is having. I feel that, as a woman, you relate a lot of your experiences to those first moments. For example, when I named the “Morning After Bag” that was an experience I had hoped I would I have one day. (laughs) Good or bad.

A girl downstairs was like: “This was the first bag I got when I got my first real job.” This experience of “firsts” is still the one I want to tap into.

On that note, what is a bag that every woman should have?

I think anything that’s a crossbody. More now than ever. The phone is in our hands at all times – so the more you can be hands-free, lightweight and convertible, the better.

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There was the recession period, which affected everyone, and now there is this rise. How is the change in economy affecting fashion?

For the consumer – she’ll never spend the way she used to spend. But I think she is very thoughtful about her spending and she believes in value and good quality. That is something we stand behind and still want to be accessible.

You decided to get involved in Project Runway recently. How did that come about?

The Weinstein Company launched a show that I’m in, called Fashion Inc. It will air right after Project Runway. They are very savvy, so they had me be a guest judge on all of the Project Runway too.

It was fun! It was obviously different than what I do on a day-to-day basis. I had to sit up straight for eight hours a day, and be really animated and awed. That was exhausting. But, you know, it’s going to help promote the brand, it’ll help gain exposure for the brand, so that’s great.

How did you feel about being the judge?

The nice thing about being a judge on this show was it wasn’t necessarily only about designers’ work. It was: did they have a business plan? Are they smart with numbers? So you are not just looking at their talent.

When I could criticize someone’s lack of foresight or business plan, I didn’t feel like I was damaging them as an artist. Sometimes the product was terrible, and I had to be honest and say: “This will never sell.” But I have been told that too, so I try to ride the line of honest and helpful if I am going to say something you don’t want to hear.

What other projects do you have on the go between now and December?

We’re going to open stores in Dubai, Qatar and Chicago!

Anything else you would like to add?

Come shop at Holt Renfrew! (laughs)

Backstage and behind-the-scenes

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Runway presentation

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By Hannah Yakobi
Photography by Robin Gartner (Rebecca Minkoff and Holt Renfrew event), Rebekah Schott (runway, backstage and behind-the-scenes at NYFW)

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  • FAJO Magazine said:

    […] same-season collections was a trend we saw from major designers last season and it continues to gain popularity, as does making collections available for purchase in-store or online immediately, as opposed to […]

  • FAJO Magazine said:

    […] interviewed Rebecca Minkoff twice – once for our cover story last December, and once for our Canadian/American coverage of her most recent runway collection – so it was lovely to see her again and catch up earlier […]


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