One To Watch: Rachel James

With London being the go too place for new designers, especially right now in menswear; Rachel JAMES would be at the forefront.  A design perspective not to be reckoned with. Mixing wearable silhouettes, amazingly intricate textile designs and a colour palette to die for. We were lucky enough to get the chance to speak to the designer about their work and plans for the future.

KALTBLUT: How would you describe your self and your work?

Rachel JAMES: I am a British menswear designer: I’ve had my brand, Rachel JAMES, for a year and a half and we do creative yet functional mens Streetwear.  We are known for our colourful prints, creative concepts, clean shapes and contemporary fabrics.  In my work there is always this balance between conceptual and cool.


KALTBLUT: Tell us about your journey that led you to this point.

Rachel JAMES: I studied my BA in Fashion Design at the University of Westminster, specialising in menswear.  During that time I also interned all over the place: Acne Studios, Josh Goot and Todd Lynn being the main ones. I showed my graduate collection in May 2014 and launched my brand soon after that with my partner and business partner, Tom. We got invited to showcase the collection at London Collections Men with the British Fashion Council in the following January – which was really our big break. This gave us an amazing platform to be introduced to the industry and to have the support of the BFC meant the world to me. After that we played it by ear and one thing led to another!  We have now showcased three collections and now exhibit at LCM and in Paris at Capsule, and from February we will have three stockists.

KALTBLUT: What would you say this is the biggest influence to your design process.

Rachel JAMES: Good question.  An idea that I owe to my time at Westminster is that you need to have a concept, and know it through and through.  If you have done enough research, whenever you come to a question within your design process, the answer will be straight in front of you.  At the beginning of a collection I always allow for a large amount of time to just think: I do a large amount of research and surround myself with ideas… then allow my head space to absorb, think, process and reject ideas.  I’m always open to my concept changing through this process and that sometimes the process itself becomes more important than the initial idea.


KALTBLUT: How would you describe the Rachel James guy?

Rachel JAMES: The RJ man loves his clothes.  He loves finding clothes that are different: fun, creative, expressive and luxurious.  He would have an eye for unusual fabrics and exquisite fit and proportion.  But he would equally be fairly down to earth: I don’t design shapes for the sake of shapes.  I design a shape if it makes a cool sleeve.  I design a shape if it makes a warm knitted jumper.  I design a shape if it looks cool when you walk, etc.

KALTBLUT: What’s your inspection behind your current collection?

Rachel JAMES: This Spring/Summer collection is entitled ‘Slick Lunatic’ and is inspired by the moon. The colour schemes of mint, grey and white were all inspired by the slightly spooky hues of the moon.  I was also very inspired by Aboriginal Art: the way they capture the natural elements in a primitive, repetitive and imperfect way that is still beautiful and disciplined.  All of my prints I drew looking at the texture of the moon’s surface or my own primitive mark makings in pen and ink. I wanted the collection to find this balance between madness and sanity: the word ‘lunatic’ meaning ‘being maddened by the moon’. I always feel my work has with weird balance between something crazy and something restrained.

KALTBLUT: Your collection features some really beautiful and unique textiles, where do get your influences from?

Rachel JAMES: My textiles evolve from my prints.  My prints come first and then I look for ways in which they can grow out of the fabric and become more 3D. In this collection this took the shape of hand embroidery and knitwear. Both of these mimic shapes and patterns from the surface of the moon and my prints. I like that therefore you can always see my concept throughout the collection: be it in an understated printed t-shirt or a conceptual, oversized hand knitted piece.

KALTBLUT: Talk us though the hidden rabbit idea.

Rachel JAMES: Haha! Well this collection is about hidden lunacy and madness, so I wanted to throw in a hidden quirk to the collection that makes it subtly odd.  I’ve always had a slight obsession with rabbits so thought it was fitting… alongside that rabbits go into a mad craze in the moon light and behave really weirdly.  Why not throw in some crazed bunnies on the moon?!


KALTBLUT: What has been the high light to you career so far?

Rachel JAMES: Every high light has been amazing in relation to when it happened: being asked to exhibit at LCM… being accepted to exhibit at Paris Men’s… having my jumper shot by Vogue Italia… being accepted into a large stockist (still a secret!)… I feel very lucky with it all.  More to come I hope!

If Paul Smith bought something of mine I’d be dancing down the street.


KALTBLUT: Who’s your dream client?

Rachel JAMES: If Paul Smith bought something of mine I’d be dancing down the street. He’s an incredible role model of mine so for him to endorse me and rock it would be so incredible.

KALTBLUT: Who’s your favourite fashion icon?

Rachel JAMES: James Dean.

KALTBLUT: For all the aspiring designers currently out there, what advise would you give them to get into this profession?

Rachel JAMES: 1. Be sure this is what you want to do – there’s no point going through the hard slog and all nighters if it’s not.  2.  Work your arse off – in the long term, hard work always pays off.  3.  When you’re not working, make sure you take care of yourself then have LOTS of fun doing things nothing to do with fashion. 4. Get plenty of internships under your belt – you really can’t beat experience and you’re up against so much competition.  5. Don’t stress about your grades – make sure your work is for you.  No one will ask you whether you got a First apart from your parents.  The industry will ask you why you did your work the way you did.

KALTBLUT: What was the last music track you listened too?

Rachel JAMES: BBHMM – Rihanna (TØMB Remix) by Annie Mac Presents.  By friends mixed this and it is beyond sickkkk I can’t stop dancing!


KALTBLUT: What do you do to let your hair down?

Rachel JAMES: I love finding new amazing music.  Whether it’s through dancing like crazy at an event on too much tequila or blissing out in my room with my headphones on.  I listen to music all day long.

KALTBLUT: Whats the best thing about being you?

Rachel JAMES: The people I have in my life and my passion for doing what I do.

KALTBLUT: If you were an animal what would you be?

Rachel JAMES: A lion.


KALTBLUT: Where can people buy your work?

Rachel JAMES: Online on my website and at my new stockists, coming soon.



Photography: Karl Slater
Styling: Jess Richardson-Smith
Hair & Makeup: Sharon Massey Sharon Massey using Mac (makeup)
Dermolgica (skin) Brumble and Brumble (hair)
Model: Charlie Frederick from Nevs
Wardrobe: Rachel JAMES
Text: Karl Slater