Fashion Rethinkers: Rara’s Kari Landen and Karin Petersson

RaRa is defined by its very lack of definition. A luxury label that scorns seasons, trends and every other typical fashion convention, the quintessentially modern brand is effortlessly breaking boundaries for a new era of genuine value and individualism. Founded by Kari Landen and Karin Petersson, the  brand forgoes the typical season cycle in favor of timeless designs that will never go out of style. For the next installment in our Fashion Rethinkers series, JC Report chatted with the visionary designers.

JC Report: What are the advantages and disadvantages of not abiding by the fashion retail calendar?

Kari Landen and Karin Petersson: You can be far more creative when not tied to a timetable imposed by the industry. In today’s climate, there’s a yearning for creativity and genuineness to replace the forced inventiveness of seasonal fashion. In order to pursue this shift, RaRa felt it was necessary to break with the fashion calendar. We are under no illusion of it being an easy task and we do respect the power of the current system.

JCR: Being outside this system, how do you get your products to customers?

KL & KP: You have to spend far more hours being inventive—and also develop talents in professional stalking. On the question of sales, RaRa respects that the classic fashion shop offers its customer the chance to feel the product, to try it on, to change their mind and to return again next week. This is a direct freedom that our online shop, no matter how clever a return policy we create, is still lacking. RaRa’s products are as much about touch and feel as fit and cut, therefore we see the urgency to offer our customers a physical place to view our actual products. We are currently working towards setting up a workshop/showroom in central London where customers can come and visit us. Still, it will not function as the classic shop because all our garments are made to order.

JCR: Why do you think this is the right time for seasonless clothing?

KL & KP: We think it is a sign of our times that the immediacy of the internet has allowed the luxury fashion market to be truly accessible. Designer’s collections are often outmoded before they hit the stores, meaning perhaps the value of a luxury brand is diminishing and seasonal fashion needs to be re-thought. In RaRa’s case, there is also a major interest in sustainability that we feel we are sharing with our customers. Moving away from seasonal fashion will help us reach sustainability within the creative process as well as within our business structure. Further, it will reassure a higher quality of the actual production, offering our customer a longer lasting product and therefore reducing waste.

JCR: Seasonless clothing is amazing in theory, but it’s remained somewhat niche. How are you going to make it speak to the critical mass? Or is that even your audience?

KL & KP: As it stands, more and more creative businesses are taking the route away from seasonal collections and in-store sales with stagnating products. There is definitely a change to be seen from past years thanks to today’s customer, who has got the intelligence and the tools to demand something else, something different. For RaRa, the aim is to establish a true image of creatively challenging, well-manufactured products that are available year-round for this new, emerging customer who knows what she or he wants and is willing to step out of the dogmatic rules set by the fashion industry.

JCR: How would you scale a business that doesn’t create anew season after season?

KL & KP: Is there a demand for different looking products every season, or is that just a way for the industry to create mass-neurosis and anxiety amongst customers who feel they can no longer wear that favorite coat as it is now “so last season” (a terrible phrase)? RaRa strives to create a personalized wardrobe where customers feel they can draw inspiration and find products that suit them and their particular taste through time.

JCR: How is your brand leveraging digital media to pursue this goal?

KL & KP: Digital media is instant. It happens here and now, not tomorrow or next time we send to print. This adds pressure, of course, but it also leaves us with an authenticity that can be lacking within other media.
For RaRa, it is an outstanding way to reach out immediately when a new product has been created—something that would have proved almost impossible less then a decade ago. Again, this lessens our dependence on the fashion calendar and somewhat frees us from the restrictions of seasonal media coverage.

JCR: Are there aspects of the fashion system today that need to change besides the one you’re tackling?

KL & KP: We feel an urgency for the focused interest to be put back into the qualities and values of the product rather then the fabricated hype surrounding celebrity.

JCR: In your estimation, what will be the benefit of this change?

KL & KP: The consumer, or critical mass, can expect a truthful interpretation of his or her fashion needs. Similarly, there will be more freedom for expression as well as thoughtfulness for those trying to create a product meeting those needs.

JCR: Where does your iconoclastic approach stem from?

KL & KP: A cold country in the very north of Europe.