Don’t call rachelroy.com a Web site. It’s a digital flagship, according to the designer.
The e-commerce platform and Webzine recently launched with black-and-white photographs on the homepage and tabs for learning, giving back and RR/TV, behind-the-scenes videos of Roy with some of her famous friends.
“We were lucky because we had an e-commerce site before with the Jones Group,” said Amy Rapawy, senior vice president of marketing and e-commerce at Rachel Roy. “When the transition happened, we looked at how our customer was consuming digital.”
The transition Rapawy referred to was the dissolution of Roy’s partnership with Jones Apparel Group in 2014, which resulted in the shuttering of her then-10-year-old designer collection and subsequent lawsuit to stop Jones from selling her business to Bluestar Alliance. She won the first round in May 2014 after a New York State Supreme Court justice granted her a preliminary injunction barring the sale. The case was later settled out of court.
When Roy set out to redesign the site, one thing she was sure of is that her customers devour content. “That’s how she built the brand,” Rapawy said. “She designed the life she wished to live.”
Roy didn’t want the site to be “so content-heavy that it would load slowly. How do you balance the clothes with content and create content that’s not [overly] self-serving to the brand? What could Rachel glean from her network of friends and family,” Rapawy said. “Our customer balances work and family. So Rachel went to Kris Jenner, and said, ‘You’re the Momager, how do you do it?’”
Jenner wrote a story, “Balancing Act: Building a Business and Running a Family.” Her daughter Kim Kardashian wore the guest editor hat, revealing that Sweet Tarts are her favorite candy and that she loves baking cupcakes with “yummy frosting and sprinkles.”
Amy Astley, Gabrielle Union, Laura Brown and Coco Rocha are other guest editors. A gift box with items chosen by influencers is in the works.
“We built this site our way,” Rapawy said. “We re-platformed it with WebLinc in Philadelphia. They did Nasty Gal’s first site and Free People’s before they went in-house. We designed the site with the mobile screen in mind.”
The site offers Roy’s contemporary label, sizes 0 to 14, and new Curvy line, sizes 14 to 24. The Rachel Roy designer collection will be relaunched later this year. A placeholder on the site offers Roy’s book, “Design Your Life: Creating Success Through Personal Style.”
“The new site will do double the business of the old one,” Rapawy said. “It’s a perfect storm of the design of site, functionality and business model. We’re now in a private ownership position, which allows us to be very nimble.”
Roy plans to become a brand with “360 degrees of product extensions,” Rapawy said.
Personalized small leather accessories are coming to the site along with a collaboration with swimwear designer Melissa Odabash. There’s also a partnership with an Australian design team that will produce caftans. And Rapawy said somewhat cryptically, “We’re doing something in the accessory realm that will involve water.”
Philanthropy is prominent on the site. “Kindness has a the third navigational position,” Rapawy said. “Rachel Roy founded with a philanthropic pillar. We just partnered with an organization that makes jewelry out of WWII bomb fragments and we’ll have a tea towel-wearing project with artists in Ethiopia.”
There’s also ratings and reviews. “Social media is a huge focus,” Rapawy said. “We have ‘like to buy,’ so we can make Instagram feel actionable. We added a Fanreel and utilize user-generated content. You can see how other people wearing something. It’s peer-to-peer marketing. We’d rather have customer help us tell the story.”