Meet the Designers of Rhode Resort, The L.A. Resort Wear Collection You Need Now
Recently relocated to Los Angeles, designers Purna Khatau and Phoebe Vickers are heating up the resort fashion scene.
No longer simply for around the pool or on vacation, resort wear has become a hot category in fashion, with the rise of several niche labels offering priced-right, breezy dresses, kimonos and kaftans that are now summer-in-the-city wardrobe staples, particularly in Los Angeles.
One of those labels is Rhode Resort, whose designers recently relocated here from New York, and launched a high-summer capsule collection of their breezy mini and maxi dresses Thursday on MatchesFashion.com. Think pineapple prints, psychedelic florals and flirty tassel trim.
The brand was founded by Purna Khatau and Phoebe Vickers, who met as freshman roommates at Hamilton College and discovered they had the same taste during their very first trip to Bed, Bath and Beyond to stock their dorm room.
After their time at school, Khatau entered the fashion world as a buyer for Harvey Nichols in London, while Vickers went into advertising in New York. They reconnected in 2013 with dreams of starting something. “To create a resort wear collection was the first idea we had,” says Vickers at the duo’s new Beverly Boulevard studio. “We went to India and got a little tailor and started making some clothes. We were so naïve and thought we’d travel the world and sell the collection and everyone would wear it,” says Khatau, who grew up in Bombay, where most of the production is still done.
They weren't far off. They launched their first collection in New York in 2014, named after Rhode, a sea nymph in Greek mythology, and have been riding the resort wear wave ever since, attracting a devoted following of Insta-chic women around the world include InStyle editor-in-chief Laura Brown, the Streicher sisters, the Sartorialist's Jenny Walton and more.
“There was a gap in the market for daywear that wasn’t business attire or streetwear,” says Khatau. “Pretty dresses that’s not really beach, but is called resort. Being able to wear something with a pair of heels or sneakers that’s easy and not fussy is key.”
The brand has scored with customers at Net-a-Porter, Shopbop, Matches.com and brick-and-mortar boutiques in the U.S. and abroad with several signature styles, including the playful Ella minidress with flirty, short skirt ($385), the Lena robe dress with tassel trim ($365), the raw silk Tara jumpsuit ($425) and the smocked Eva dress ($425).
This spring, the two decided to relocate the brand to L.A. for personal reasons; Khatau wanted to be closer to her boyfriend, Fox vp comedy programming and development Roberto Alcantara. But the move makes business sense, too, says Vickers: “There is a certain lightheartedness here. And you feel the luxury of time. The carefree attitude suits the clothes.”
What’s next? The designers are simplifying their brand name to Rhode starting next year, and expanding into other categories.
“We are working on shoes and bags and hopefully dog beds!” says Vickers. Adds Katau, “We want it to be a whole lifestyle.”