RAEY

ELLE (UK) - - Elle Voice - SARAMcALPINE

How do you think about workwear when our work keeps chang­ing? Not only has public-sec­tor em­ploy­ment in the UK dropped by 15.5% since 2008, with tech fast re­plac­ing staff, but we’re in­creas­ingly ditch­ing the nine-to-fivedesk job. A quar­ter of 18 to 34-year-olds are now work­ing as ‘slashies’ with mul­ti­ple jobs, or port­fo­lio ca­reers, ac­cord­ing to a study by Bar­clay­card*.

We’re not dress­ing for one job, we’re dress­ing for a re­ported aver­age of four, a fact the team be­hind Raey, the readyto-wear line launched by multi­brand re­tailer Matches Fash­ion, is aware of. ‘It’s about prac­ti­cal­ity,’ in­sists Rachael Proud, the Topshop and Christo­pher Kane alum now over­see­ing de­sign and buy­ing for Matches’ in-house la­bel. ‘When I’m de­sign­ing, I’m think­ing, “Would I be able to wear it? Would it fit on me as some­one wear­ing mul­ti­ple hats through­out the day, as I know a lot of women do now?”’ That’s one of Raey’s found­ing prin­ci­ples, creat­ing lux­ury ba­sics that fit seam­lessly into the mod­ern woman’s wardrobe. But what does ‘mod­ern’ mean in the con­text of a work­ing woman’s lifestyle?

‘Sim­ple: can you run for the bus in it?’ says Rachael, quick­fire and to-the-point. It’s ob­vi­ous where the no-fuss sen­si­bil­ity at the base of Raey comes from (and worth not­ing that the line takes its name from its head de­signer). As for the no­tion that prac­ti­cal­ity and pol­ish are mu­tu­ally ex­clu­sive, she says ‘bin it’.

‘Raey is pre­dom­i­nantly for women who work, but I want you to do what­ever you like in it. Whether you’re go­ing to work, to your friend’s house or to your gran’s. It’s de­signed for you to feel com­fort­able mov­ing around in.’

And pock­ets are req­ui­site: ‘Ev­ery­thing has to have pock­ets, to make each piece func­tional,’ she says. ‘We also think, “How does this piece move when you bend your knees? How does it move as you’re walk­ing? Will this wear well? Is it eas­ily wash­able? Is it long-last­ing?”’

Rachael of all peo­ple would know. Her typ­i­cal work day in­cludes com­mut­ing through Lon­don at peak time from a morn­ing gym class, over­see­ing the de­sign and buy­ing of Raey menswear and wom­enswear, re­spond­ing to calls and emails, and deal­ing with strat­egy, as well as all the ad­min that comes with man­ag­ing a large team. ‘I couldn’t do all that in what you might call “Ap­pren­tice dress”,’ she says re­fer­ring to the fit­ted skirt suits and heels usu­ally worn by con­tes­tants on the show.

Raey is all about nail­ing the build­ing blocks of ev­ery­day dress, with jewel toned silk-satin slips and camisoles, fine-gauge cash­mere in ver­sa­tile colours, and a skirt length suited to all shapes and sizes (whether that be ver­tig­i­nous, flat, curvy, or ver­ti­cally chal­lenged).

This is wel­come news for young women in the early stages of their ca­reers, as well as those on the up­per rungs of the lad­der, as Rachael’s at­ti­tude to in­clu­siv­ity ex­tends to price-point. ‘I think in all re­spects, prac­tice ranks above preach­ing, so if we’re com­mit­ted to giv­ing women the choice of beau­ti­ful ba­sics that can be dressed up and down, we want to give them the choice of buy­ing those staples in mul­ti­ple colour­ways with ac­ces­si­ble prices.’ Pieces from the cur­rent col­lec­tion range from £85 to £2,100, and in­clude feath­erlight coats in a wool en­gi­neered by lux­ury cloth­iers in Ja­pan, as well as fluid silks sourced from mills in Italy.

‘There’s a green coat from the Septem­ber drop that I’m def­i­nitely eye­ing,’ Rachael says be­fore adding that ‘ba­sic’ does not have to mean a pal­ette of black, navy and grey. In fact that’s where Raey gets it right, nav­i­gat­ing the fine line be­tween fash­ion and style, slip­ping with ease from sea­son­less ba­sics in core colours to bolder, trend-led looks.

So will we see Rachael leg­ging it be­hind a bus in Septem­ber’s puffa­coats and side-split blouses? ‘You’d bet­ter believe that if it’s on the web­site, I can run in it – and let it be known, for the record, that I can run in heels,’ she says. ‘I just choose not to.’ That’s a sen­ti­ment worth drink­ing to — out­side of of­fice hours, ob­vi­ously.

Grey wool blazer, £425, grey wool top, £195, and grey wool trousers, £350, all RAEY at MATCHES FASH­ION. White leather boots, £418, BY FAR. Ster­ling-sil­ver ear­rings, £355,

FAY ANDRADA

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