A longtime RUBY girl, it’s certainly a brand that’s close to my heart. Besides modelling in numerous lookbooks and campaigns for them over the years, they also happen to have given me my first proper job as a retail assistant back in 2008; a dream scenario for this soon to be university student with a penchant for designer clothes.
I jumped on board at a similar time the label had a complete overhaul. With new owners and a fresh vision, RUBY took off in a different direction and has since blossomed into the cult fashion brand it is today. What was once a small boutique label has since become a Kiwi powerhouse in the fashion industry and it’s only getting bigger and better with every season. With their own accessories line, nine beautiful stores nationwide and enough editorial each season to fill a September Vogue, it’s no wonder they’ve attracted a fan base so obsessed with their clothing it often sells out within days of hitting the racks.
Ever the RUBY fan girl, I caught up with designer Deanna Didovich about her role at the company, how she got started and the inspiration behind her work. We also chatted about her favourite places to eat, drink and play when the weekend rolls around. Read on and enjoy!
On your work
Tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do…
My name is Deanna and I am the designer behind NZ label RUBY. I entered the industry fresh from university, and after working for a few years in New Zealand I moved to London for some offshore experience. When home for a visit the following year I went for an interview at the label that had just been bought off its original owners, and landed the job. It was a bit scary to be honest as I had to move my life back home quite unexpectedly, but it was a really great move! It has been a pleasure watching RUBY grow under my direction and great working with a stellar bunch of people along the way.
How did you get started in the fashion industry?
For me it was something that progressed very naturally. I had always been a bit of a craft nerd growing up – I loved doing anything that involved putting things together, and this eventually lead me to become more and more interested in fashion. When leaving school I tossed up between doing a photography degree or fashion, but opted for the latter.
Was it difficult taking an already established label and rebranding it?
I grew up with RUBY, so I knew there was a very loyal following that needed to be nurtured. When I started, it was about infusing some new ideas and direction into the brand which started as a streetwear label.
How have you evolved as a fashion designer since you began working for RUBY?
Over the years you tend to make some hits and misses, and each time you make a mistake or a success, you learn to design smarter. My design has evolved naturally over the years but I still believe I have the same aesthetic and vision that I began with.
How would you describe the RUBY girl today?
The RUBY girl today is youthful, glowing, and adventurous.
What does a typical day in the RUBY HO entail?
For me it can greatly vary depending on the time of the season. Currently I am doing a mix of jobs ranging from tying up the winter range and handing the collection over to the production team, editing our AW15 campaign shoot that we recently shot in Sydney, working on designing our High Winter Capsule, and sourcing fabric for SS15. A mixed bag!
Tell us about the new RUBY Pre-Fall collection you’re launching soon…
RUBY Pre-Fall is due to hit stores on January 17th, and is a Japanese-inspired collection centered around a delicate watercolour blossom print. The mainline collection ‘Hana’ (Japanese for flower) is ultra-feminine and spirited, with a touch of eastern surfer-cool.
What’s your favourite collection to date? And all-time favourite Ruby piece?
I would have to say my favourite collection to date would have to be the collaboration I worked on earlier this year with London-based illustrator GATTOBRAVO. It was such an enjoyable process working with someone whose work you really admire and love.
A favourite piece would have to be the Betty Playsuit – can’t ever go past this one! It was really the start of my love affair with the playsuit.
What about the role social media now plays in the fashion industry. How important is it for a brand like RUBY?
It is beyond important! Our customers live on social media, so we make it a priority to keep them interested and use our platforms to inform and inspire.
Do you have any business tips or words of wisdom for young designers starting out in the industry?
It is tough out there so work hard, and treat people well.
On your inspiration
When you’re designing a collection where do you look to for inspiration?
Usually I have a seed of an idea enter my mind and this can come from anywhere. The Japanese influence I worked with for AW15 simply came from seeing a cherry-blossom print that captured my attention.
Once you’ve got the inspiration, what comes next? How does your creative process work?
Usually the first thing I work on is sourcing fabrics and working on print development, as these areas always take the longest to progress. From there I begin the sampling process with our patternmaker in-house, and the collection slowly starts to grow.
Who do you look up to as a designer internationally?
Lately I have been drawn to American designer Rachel Comey. I love the simplicity, beauty, and youthfulness of her garments. I think her vision as a designer is unique and very clever, without being too serious or heavy.
Do you have a style icon? Who is she (or he)?
They change all the time – At the moment I have a girl-crush on Emily Weiss, the creator of Into the Gloss and new cosmetic line Glossier. My sister Marina also has pretty great style.
It’s the weekend. Where can we find you eating/drinking/playing?
Depends on the weather! I love a weekend getaway to the Coromandel, or to a friends bach in Omaha north of Auckland. For a casual Auckland weekend you might find me at Burger Burger (way too often), or somewhere in Ponsonby Central. I spend a bit of time in Sydney also where my sister and her husband live. When there you might find me relaxing on Kutti beach, or having cocktails on my sister’s balcony.
Describe your perfect Sunday brunch outfit, and where will you be brunching?
Sundays I keep it very simple. I have a thing about keeping my clothing low-key on this day! It will often be denim, white and grey marl, with a pair of espadrilles or moccasins. I will most probably be having mushrooms at Dizengoff, eggs at Catroux in Westmere, or muesli at Ortolana in Britomart.
What’s your fashion obsession right now?
My obsession right now is finding my next black leather shoulder bag for everyday. That and my new pink suede Chanel espadrilles.
What’s one place in Auckland we probably haven’t heard of but we should definitely check out?
I know it’s probably not the most unheard of spot, but when the tide is in down on Point Chev beach after work there is no better spot for a dip.
It’s time for a holiday. Where are you going and what are you packing?
My next holiday is not for a couple months so I’m hanging out for it. I will be going to Hawaii with my mum, sister and cousins from Sydney. We will be staying at The Modern, Waikiki, and I will be packing light!
Fresh, directional and flirtingly fun, the RUBY girl is all grown up and I couldn’t be prouder!
Oh and here’s a few more sneaky looks to have you dreaming of AW15…