Fashion is coming to terms with its environmental sins, and it might be easy to just sit back and watch the industry struggle with itself, but Lexie Rodriguez – who heads up the international events arm of Soho House – thinks there’s a real change that can start from the individual. “We have real purchasing power”, she says.
“Even from where you buy your groceries, the power is what you do with and where you put your money.” To that end, she’s been an avowed believer in the value of shopping vintage, pre-loved, and, if buying anything new, in putting money into investment pieces that look better and last longer. “I’ve got a few designer pieces that aren’t old or vintage, but they’re ones that I’m definitely going to wear for a long time. Like, 10 years from now. Instead of buying something that’s manufactured badly and wasteful, I’d rather buy one or two pieces of really good quality stuff that I know I’m going to keep for a long time.”
She shows us a clutch of bags that do, indeed, look well-loved and used. “You can see, I really use my bags.” Among them, an Yves Saint Laurent cabas (from the Stefano Pilati years), a slouchy, studded Jimmy Choo and a tweed Chanel flap bag. That last one, in particular, comes with a story. With her first pay cheque at 18, Rodriguez bought the Chanel from a vintage store in Notting Hill. “My friends were like ‘you’re gonna use everything from your first salary to buy a bag?!’ and I was like ‘yeah! It’s an investment, you know?’ In 20 years’ time, someone else, or if I have children, will be able to use it. My friends thought I was crazy but I stand by my decision ‘cos there are brands that really hold long term value.”
There’s also a sense with Rodriguez’s style that she’s keeping an eye out for future classics. When she talks about the items that she’s bought, she comes back quite often to the idea of passing them onto her children, nieces or nephews. There’s a printed neoprene dress from Clover Canyon, a brand that she loved (“it was when Mary Katrantzou came out and it was all about prints”) , that she’s kept for nostalgia and sentimentality because the label is now defunct. “If we don’t keep it, the brand’s just going to kind of fade away. I have a son, but who knows? He might like it.”
Do you have a particular way of shopping?
“It’s love at first sight, whether it’s vintage or new. I’m not one of those long shoppers, so it has to call to me. If I walk in and I don’t feel anything, then I just walk out.”
Tell us about how you shop pre-loved fashion.
“We don’t really have vintage stores here, but when I used to live in London there were literally so many. Like, it was really hard not to shop every weekend. I got a limited edition Moncler and Comme de Garcons jacket from Style Tribute, which is a pre-loved site in Singapore. They’ve got some amazing pieces, and a lot of it has never been worn too.”
How would you describe your style?
“I kind of dress how I feel. Being a woman, I think it’s natural to have many versions of you. When I’m running around with my son on weekends it’s whatever’s easy that I’m not going to get a food stain on. I travel a lot for work, so there’s also travel wear. There’s the me that’s hosting people at events, and that’s totally different. I don’t limit my wardrobe, and that’s what I love about style. It’s your own creative outlet and you can be pretty limitless with it.”
What do you wear for an event when you want to feel dressed up?
“I try and buy pieces I can dress up or down, so it’s not like I have a whole selection of gowns or formal-wear. For really dressed-up occasions, I like to wear something unexpected. If it’s black tie, I’ll go in a suit or a really unique piece with a story. Something that’s already a statement that can become a nice conversation starter.”
Have you always been into luxury fashion brands?
“I guess they’ve always been around me because my mom loves fashion. As a kid, my mom got me these Versace jeans that I thought were really hilarious and fun with the sun and all these patterns. I didn’t know what they were, but the appreciation for it was always there.”
What about more accessible brands?
“CK Calvin Klein isn’t crazy expensive. Kate Spade is great if you’re into girly stuff. Zimmermann wasn’t that expensive when I first started buying it. When I first started buying Dion Lee he wasn’t that expensive too, but he’s jacked it up now. All the great designers eventually evolve.”
Do you shop differently when you travel?
“I like to find stuff that locals make, and it doesn’t even have to be a brand. I love supporting local designers and artisans when I travel. I have something from when we were in Nepal, and it’s like a faux rabbit fur coat. It’s all handwoven, and it was handmade by this little lady. “
How do you go about finding local designers to shop from?
“It’s hard to discover up and coming designers, unless you’re a fan of and following fashion. Even here and when I travel, it’s hard – you have to kind of ask someone in the industry, and there’s not really an easy place to find emerging local designers. You have to do a bit of work, and know somebody who knows somebody.”