Fashion and fantasy are two realms that highlight the whimsical, inspire imagination and have dark sides. Designer and Gallatin alumna Rachel Wang, hopes to marry all of these facets between the two worlds in her new brand RENWEAR, which is set to launch in February 2017.
The brand focuses on storytelling through fashion, juxtaposing the role of the woman within the context of different influences from art, history, folklore, philosophy, culture and literature. Wang’s concept for her brand stems from her deep-rooted interest in the fantastical
“I’ve always been fascinated with fantastical things and monsters, and honestly, the dark side of it all,” Wang said. “I find it more interesting than a good hero. It’s always more fun to explore why something is corrupted.”
RÈNWEAR isn’t the first instance she’s explored storytelling through fashion. At the 2016 Gallatin Fashion Show, entitled TechStyles, Wang based her collection around a utopian, communist society where technology dominates and everything is free. Her designs featured simple patchwork, strappy details and silhouettes based on comfort and utility.
“The catch is that [the society] lives in a compound, because it’s post-apocalyptic,” Wang said. “So my collection has a lot of jumpsuits, it’s pretty simple, but it still looks polished because they’re comfortable.”
The collection exemplifies how her uncomplicated aesthetic manages to express a much more complex story. The clean lines and familiar silhouettes point towards a pared-down wardrobe, while the substantial harness-like straps and strategic patchwork allude to her utopian society.
Her experience designing for the Gallatin Fashion Show and interning at various designer labels (including positions at Marc Jacobs and Rag & Bone) each of the four years of her undergraduate career, exposed her to both the design and manufacturing side of the fashion industry. Now, she continues to balance those two aspects by developing her own brand, while also working in production at Calvin Klein.
Wang is currently in the process of designing her new collection, which will be featured in the Spring 2017 Gallatin Fashion Show. The theme for the upcoming show is power, and designers may interpret that however they desire. Wang is conceptualizing the power of a dream for her collection.
“It follows a story that makes no sense, because it’s a dream,” Wang said. “But it’s like this running away, escaping danger story where you end up getting in more danger every time you try — just a really surreal kind of idea.”
Along with the stories that develop within the designer’s collections, Wang’s own story is being played out as she continues to explore the fantastical possibilities between fiction and fashion.