Rick Owens is renowned for his avant-garde pieces. Here we discuss the balance between clothing and art with Owens and Bobby Chehrazi, Founder & Director of Closet Case. 

What do the first 30 minutes of your day look like – your morning routine?

RO: I am at the seaside in Venice right now- I take my computer to the terrace overlooking the Adriatic and drink coffee, read the news and respond to emails- I also study studio results from the day before and figure out what needs improvement or elimination…then I go to the beach.

Tell us about the strategy for launching in the region?

RO: No strategy at all – just finding a strong partner with a good track record.

BC: We’ve been working with Rick Owens for the last 6 years in this region since the day we opened our stores. We have seen the brand grow from strength to strength and decided to invest in it and open the first mono-brand store in the MENA to cater to the heavy demand.

The core DNA of Rick Owens remains prevalent season after season. How would you define this?

RO: My clothes are about collapse and control- they are speaking to an audience attracted to both and trying to find the right balance…and I like a very narrow range of colours…or- every once in a while, a mad ridiculous departure from that.

What is your design process, and what inspired the latest collection?

RO: My collections are a rolling along process that takes into account our current aesthetic climate and tries to offer something appropriate for the moment but also proposes alternative options. Popular culture can be so narrow and cruel…blurring the edges of what is acceptable is a vote for tolerance and empathy.

If you weren’t a designer, is there another avenue you would have followed career-wise?

RO: I would want to be the head gardener at the Vatican.

How do you maintain clarity in your life and work practice and how do you balance the creative and commercial sides of the business?

RO: I ruthlessly reduce, eliminate and release- I avoid emotional and physical clutter.

How do you balance the creative and commercial sides of the business?

RO: They are the same- every commercial element is as considered as any runway piece – and I have partners, Elsa, and Luca, who have been with me from the beginning and are spectacularly talented at protecting and cultivating our brand.

How do you stay relevant over time, and how does this include new ways of communicating in an ever-digital world with clients?

RO: I credit tenacity and honesty. And if the product people buy is not good, no amount of explaining or promotion is going to make it last very long.

BC: By staying true to our DNA. Communication is built on trust, which is based on our stores – providing a unique product and memorable experience.

Do you see any global buying patterns within the GCC?

RO: I don’t mean to be oblivious, but if I just concentrated on doing what was popular, we would be a very different company. I am conscious that I have to be very selfish sometimes and present what I am proud of.

BC: We put our faith in Rick Owens and trust the way the collection unveils, which is reflected in the clients’ selections.

Which pieces drive sales season after season?

RO: Reducing what I do to just those pieces would feel like a very incomplete picture. I will let others summarize me.

BC: It’s not a piece, it’s about the collection and theme of the season. The Rick customer knows what they want, but at the same time isn’t afraid to experiment with new innovations.

Do you feel bricks and mortar stores are still essential to support the digital offering, and what do your customers value about these physical locations?

RO: We will always need churches, mosques, museums and theatres. Physical stores serve much the same purposes.

BC: Rick Owens is more than a click on the screen. It’s about a whole experience, which we try to offer in the brick-and-mortar stores.

What advice can you give aspiring designers?

RO: The more work you produce, the more you can strip away and edit- and your voice will emerge for better or worse.

What advice would you give your younger self?

RO: Drink more water.

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Images: Supplied