PMM Exclusive Interview: Re/Dress Owner Rachel Kacenjar Talks New Lookbook, Showing Diversity & More
If you live in the NYC area and love vintage and hard-to-find clothing, chances are, you knew about Re/Dress. It was a plus size fashion institution.
Located in the downtown Brooklyn area, many plus size fashionistas loved to shop in this great shop, which also allowed them to resell clothing as well. The doors of Re/Dress closed in November 2011 and then-owner Deb Malkin decided to keep the business solely online.
Fast forward a year later. Rachel Kacenjar, formerly of Cupcake and Cuddlebunny and Sweetooth Couture, decided to buy the business from Deb. She kept the online business intact and also opened a brick-and-mortar store in Cleveland in September 2013.
Rachel is all about being unique and standing out in the crowd. She listens to her customers and is not afraid to take chances in offering key items that may not be available in many places or in a certain size. She recently launched a lookbook for Re/Dress titled “Farewell Fairytale Summer” and it’s different than any other lookbook we have ever seen. It’s whimsical, fun, flirty, inspiring and just fabulous.
PMM: Hi Rachel! We are loving all that you are doing with Re/Dress and this new lookbook! What inspired this lookbook? What’s the story behind it?
Rachel: I was inspired by the boom of the fatkini movement and all of the beautiful swimwear pictures that our customers and fans had been posting all summer. I wanted to do a shoot for Re/Dress that showed some fierce swimwear looks, but also other summer looks that were gorgeous and empowering in all types of scenarios. Not everyone is at a place in their journey in body love and acceptance where wearing a bikini feels safe or possible for them, so I think a variety of summer beauty and glamour is vital thing. Everyone deserves to feel wonderful and revolutionary in what they wear, even if the garment has full coverage.
PMM: In addition to swimwear, we see some pretty, glammed up dresses in the lookbook. Almost as if the girls are “glamping”. And there is such a diversity of fashion in the lookbook. It’s so refreshing to see women of different sizes in different summer “scenes”. It really tells a story.
Rachel: The whole theme really started with my idea to use these gorgeous prom dresses that we had in the store in a summer scenario and I thought it would be charming to have Genna and Maria getting out of sleeping bags wearing them. Sort of a nod to Beyonce’s ‘Flawless’ “I just woke up like this” type of attitude. The ideas kept trickling in from there, from the scouting shots being inspired by Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom to good ol’ fashioned summertime JC Penney catalogue type scenes like the picnic scene and the summer sports scenes.
PMM: So please tell us more about the models you used in the lookbook and how they related to the story behind it.
Rachel: Whether they know it or not, the models were all characters based on the actual personality of the models. Laura, our scout master, is a woodsy, laid back, friendly person that everyone falls in love with upon meeting. I think we really caught a glimpse of that with her gnome shot and the shots of her laughing and playing with the other models.
Jasmine, our conductor, aka “Uncle Jas” is a bit of a hardass and plays a lot of her feelings off with jokes and laughter, as she’s a truly tender and kind soul. You can see that in her eyes and I feel like I reflected her silliness in a lot of her outfits like the one with the fish print shirt, fun colors with shark print pants, as well as her smoothness in the swimlet shot and the conductor shot.
Maria, who is our scouting mistress, is one of my dearest friends and has been a muse of mine for several years. Maria is an intimidating person because she is incredibly beautiful and also sharply smart and witty. Once you get to know her and she trusts you, she is so kindhearted that you realize she is just protecting her own softness. I wanted to give her lots of strong looks, like the dashiki look and the scouting mistress look because she is truly the strongest person I know.
Genna, our pussywillow princess, is always the life of the party. She wears daring looks in real life and her style is so inspiring to those around her. While she is very courageous and stunning, she is also going through a part of her life where she is desperately searching for something, which is where the shot of her with the lantern came into play. She has these antlers that are made to protect her, but in reality, they are just pussywillows and she’s going to need to learn to protect herself.
Kasey, our swan queen, is Re/Dress’ newest model. Believe it or not, this was actually her first shoot with us! Kasey is a solid size 26/28, and it was important to me show a full range of sizes in this pictorial and also give a leading role to someone on the higher end of our size range.
PMM: Yes! Our readers always talk about seeing more visibly plus models in campaigns and showing size diversity.
Rachel: I knew in my heart that Kasey had to be our swan queen because she has this unreal Disney Princess face and a shyness and absolute gentleness that needed to be transcended to show her real power. By the end of our long shoot, it was time for the swan scene and while Kasey was excited to do the shot, she really had to work to push through and give powerful face. I was so proud of her for breaking through her usual softness and really serving that deviance that makes the shot so stunning. Her character starts soft and ends up empowered and glorious- which I think is a real-time depiction of Kasey’s own journey. I can’t wait to work with her on future shoots.
PMM: What can we expect from Re/Dress this fall?
Rachel: Re/Dress will always carry great layering pieces, and that’s really no different this fall. We’re expanding the colorways for our most popular product- Teggings, and we’re also in development stages for new Teggings products that will hit the scene in November. We are just about to get in a bevvy of amazing cardigans and printed leggings, too, so we are where it’s at for layering.
I can’t wait to debut our gorgeous vintage-look coats for late fall, as well as the stunning vintage coats I’ve been thrifting and collecting year round. Our fall and winter vintage is basically unstoppable and I think folks are really going to clamor to snatch it off the shelves the second it debuts, so keep a close eye on us!
Thank you so much, Rachel for talking to us! We loved hearing about the lookbook and what’s to come for Re/Dress this fall.
And as fate would have it, as this interview goes to press, Rachel just announced on Re/Dress’ Facebook page, they also now carry vintage style sexy nightgowns. So, if you’re in the Cleveland, OH area, make sure you stop by Re/Dress, say hi to Rachel and her team and score some fabulous fashions.
Re/Dress is located at:
18115 Detroit Avenue
Phone: (440) 941-2482