It’s easy to pigeonhole Rigel Davis as a fashion influencer or an It girl. The Shanghai-based founder of streetwear label Mayhem is often lensed at key fashion and beauty events around the globe, dressed in the latest duds, runs with the cool kids in these circles, and has a 375k strong following on Instagram. But as quick as she is to denounce those labels, she’s also unabashed to share that she wouldn’t peg herself as a designer — despite us perched a few metres away from her pop-up rack at Surrender, and having recently come off another Mayhem pop-up at the streetwise fashion mecca, FourTwoFour on Fairfax in Los Angeles.

“I want to have the freedom to be able to do whatever I want,” she says. And her track record fits the bill, with a multi-label store in Shanghai and an eponymous makeup line under her belt. Here, the entrepreneur tells us what she — and Mayhem — are all about.

On Mayhem

“Having my own brand has always been a dream of mine since high school, and I opened a multi-label boutique when I was 20 or 21. That was pretty cool and I learned a lot. We bought Helmut Lang and Acne — a lot of brands that weren’t in Shanghai at the time.  I kind of dabbled with my own clothing for a bit, but Mayhem is something that my friends and I started because we wanted to do something cool. We’re really new — it’s our first collection — and we recently did a mini capsule for a FourTwoFour pop-up with exclusives. In the future, I want to make more interesting and detailed clothing. We want to be more explosive.”

On where the label is headed

“I think it’ll be cool to do collaborations for bags and accessories, but for now I want to keep doing pop-ups and events around the world.”

On fashion, style and influences growing up

“My family told me that ever since I was really little, I wouldn’t let anyone else dress me. I don’t actually put much thought into it though — whatever catches my eye or looks good on me is what I tend to buy. I don’t necessarily have a muse per se. When I was 14, all my friends were skaters; I was pretty tomboy in high school and wore baggy black pants and Converse.”

Tips on style and entrepreneurship

“Understand your body type. There have been a lot of styles that I’ve worn [in the past] that doesn’t look good for my body type. That’s one thing girls should really explore.”

“I started young and kind of did everything on my own. I would suggest that others not take everything on by themselves. It’s a lot and it’s better to have a good team.”

One trend she’s into at the moment


The up-and-coming Chinese designers to know

“Xander Zhou for sure. He’s a stylist, has his own brand, works at a magazine and throws great parties. I love Angel Chen’s stuff too, and Feng Chen Wang.”

The mantra she lives by

“Being true to yourself.”