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5 Questions With Rye's Bessie Ye

The founder-designer talks about growing the brand and sticking to her guns

Launched in 2016 by Bessie Ye, Rye is a homegrown brand that places the value of timelessness at the heart of its every endeavour. For the discerning woman who’s about building her wardrobe with trend-proof garments, Rye offers a considered selection of reworked classics that are instilled with a nuanced sense of elegance. “Timeless beauty is our essence and eternal philosophy,” the 30-year-old Ye says.

For the label’s latest collection, Ye devised a series of pared-back pieces that highlight the beauty in practicality. Besides new reiterations of Rye’s signature knitted tops, pleated skirts took centrestage in Ye’s reimagining of a contemporary wardrobe. Shirt dresses, another hallmark of Ye’s designs, were cut loose and given asymmetrical hems for ease of movement. The designer also largely kept to a colour palette of neutral hues such as olive, beige and navy, further amplifying the utilitarian undertones of the collection.

What inspired the new collection?

Our Fall ’19 collection, “Modern Utility”, is about reimagining functional utilitarian dressing. We went exploring: fold lines and asymmetrical forms; trying out a new range of fabric that was stiff to provide structure; a hybrid between a wrap and pleated skirt; the hardware and pockets; layering different width of pleats together… it is a mix of something familiar to Rye and also new at the same time.

What’s your favourite piece and why?

I love this collection because there are options that can easily make the transition from one event to another. If I need something fuss-free and easy, the flared circular tunic will be my go-to. And if I want to make a statement for a more dressed-up event, the soft layered dress and wrap pleated skirt will make perfect options.

It has been three years since you started the brand. In what ways does the new collection represent the evolution of Rye?

The new collection is the representation of what Rye has grown into—I’ve gained clarity of what the essence and identity of the brand is about. In the past three years, we took time to build a community for the Rye woman. This has helped us gather insights into what our customers are looking for and at the same time, how we can serve their needs better.

In that sense, we’ve grown to become more confident about diving into the unknown. In this collection, you’ll see that we have a balance of the old (our classic range of staples) and new. The latter came about because we decided to take some risks and try something we have never done before. Which is why we’ve introduced the Studio Exclusive, a range where the pieces are more intricate in details and more techniques are involved to craft them. Ultimately, we want to be able to push our creative thoughts and continuously explore new techniques and designs, at the same time maintaining what we do best at Rye.

Is there something you wish you’d done differently?

I don’t think so. I stand by what we have created and put out there in the market. I’m always looking for ways to better the brand and I believe that everything that has happened so far happened for a reason. I am very proud of what we have achieved thus far.

What hopes do you have for the brand, moving forward?

We are currently in talks with potential partners to bring the brand to overseas markets such as the UK, Australia and Indonesia. Slowly—but surely. I also hope to shape Rye into a lifestyle brand where it’s not just about fashion. I want to collaborate with like-minded individuals because working alongside passionate people who are good at what they do inspires me. We can perhaps work on providing slow-roast drip coffee or concocting unique scents as part of the Rye experience. Who knows? We might even venture into menswear at Rye. These are areas of interest that I am deeply passionate about.

Browse some of the looks above.