As a kid growing up in New Jersey, Rachel Antonoff used to save up her weekly allowance to buy Archie Comics. She’d also send in handwritten letters to the “Dear Betty & Veronica” advice column. So when the team at Archie Comics shot Antonoff an e-mail last year proposing to collaborate on a Betty & Veronica-themed clothing line, she apparently spilled hot coffee all over herself at a diner.
“I was outrageously excited to dust off these iconic characters and bring them into the future,” Antonoff said in a phone interview from Los Angeles. “Because there’s more to these characters than just two girls fighting over a guy. I always wanted to have a best friend that was the Veronica to my Betty. For me, it’s about their friendship and support of one another.”
As it turns out, the timing on the upcoming Betty & Veronica by Rachel Antonoff collection, set to launch this fall, is just right: It coincides with the 75th anniversary of Archie Comics; as well as the debut of the new series, “Riverdale,” on the CW, an upcoming teen drama from Greg Berlanti based on Archie Comics characters, and the reboot of the comic, Betty and Veronica #1, helmed by Adam Hughes.
The collection will offer T-shirts, separates, dresses and jackets ranging from $78 to $389, all with playful Betty & Veronica-inspired prints and embellishments. One print series features speech bubbles with kissing sounds like “smooch” and “smack.” Another, which Antonoff called “In Progress,” riffs on unfinished pencil drawings of Betty & Veronica.
“During our first visit to the Archie Comics offices, we got to look at the archives and saw a lot of these sketches that never really turned into anything,” she said. “It was fascinating to see the [drawing] progress of these characters that we know so well.”
Outerwear styles include a faux fur, leopard-print bomber and a denim jacket covered in Betty & Veronica patches.
Antonoff’s own collections — and her playful, often elaborate New York Fashion Week presentations — are known for being whimsical with a healthy dose of camp and quirk, making the partnership a natural fit. “We wanted to find the right balance of having the characters’ images and faces on the clothing and also having it feel like a collection that the characters would actually wear themselves — one that people would actually want to buy,” she said.
The collection, which will retail at bettyandveronica.com and in select stores, will be unveiled during an Archie Comics panel discussion at Comic-Con in San Diego this weekend, which Antonoff will be attending for the first time. “I have literally no idea what to expect,” she said of the event, which started Thursday and runs through Sunday at the San Diego Convention Center. “I was thinking it would be funny to dress up as like, a full ‘Avatar’ or something.”