’90s runway meets casual glamor at Canberra’s RQ The Label

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Glamour, sustainability, and the feminine form: this is what Canberra-based brand RQ The Label wants to bring to the fashion industry.

RQ The Label was founded by local Rachel Quach in 2020. With no experience studying or working in fashion—apart from retail jobs throughout high school, college, and university—she decided to start designing clothes as a fun creative outlet.

“I actually studied economics and marketing in uni,” Rachel explains. “After uni, I still didn’t really know what I wanted to do so I joined a consulting firm because all my friends were applying and I was just going with the flow.”

“I kind of just needed something on the side as a creative outlet and I think I always had in the back of my head that it would be cool to start a clothing brand.”

Launching RQ from her home and doing everything herself—from taking photos to building the website and sourcing products—three years later Rachel’s fashion label is bringing soft, ’90s supermodel glamor and vintage-inspired looks to life.

Creating classic corsets with a slightly modern edge, it’s an homage to the vintage and high-end fashion Rachel has always loved.

“I’ve always been obsessed with vintage fashion,” she says. “I used to find a lot of amazing products through op shops, but obviously there isn’t much choice,”

“There was a gap in the market because I don’t really want to support fast fashion…and there’s also the other end of the spectrum where you can have beautiful designer pieces, but they’re not always in everybody’s price range.”

Deciding to fill the gap with sustainable vintage-inspired garments, Rachels’ collections are designed to be worn in multiple ways, expanding the longevity of each item of clothing.

“I really want to promote sustainability and slow fashion,” she says. “I try and work with neutral colors as well, so it’s easier for the consumer to style in different ways.”

“Obviously corsets are a huge trend now but they’ve been around for ages. I honestly think they’re here to stay for a long time and they are quite timeless in that sense. And they definitely help to accentuate the female form.”

Taking months to design each item before selecting the fabric, fitting it to the body, and sending the final design to an overseas manufacturer, the RQ collections are small but visually stunning, grabbing the attention of UK magazine Vanity Fair London.

Describing it as her biggest “pinch-me” moment, Rachel is still in shock over the three features in the iconic style pages.

“They sent me an email and I honestly thought it was a scammer contacting me, but I replied, and it turned out to be legitimate,” she says with a laugh. “It was really cool. They published a bit about us in there…That’s probably one of the highlights so far.”

With her newest collection officially launched earlier this week (taking inspiration from Bridgerton, lace, and anything else that grabs her attention), Rachel’s hope is to one day open a shopfront, improve her sustainability measures and help the Canberra fashion industry flourish.

“The photoshoot locations…I always travel for those and work with models that are interstate because I feel like I don’t yet have enough resources here to be able to portray the brand in a way that I could, in Sydney or Melbourne or the Gold Coast.”

“That can be a little bit isolating, but it’s not a huge deal…It would be great if there were more people doing what I’m doing that are in a similar position because it would be great to connect with others in the industry. ”

But for now—still doing everything herself—Rachel wants to keep designing unique and vintage-inspired items, satisfying our desire for glamourous, sustainable, and feminine clothing.

Images supplied from RQ The Label.

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