Fashion changed in 2020. The impractical, extravagant looks of yesterday, the ones with little value beyond their ability to generate likes, felt suddenly unnecessary, bizarre, in every sense too much. While the rest of us waited to see what’s next, Rhuigi Villaseñor and his team at the LA-based brand Rhude were busy designing the future that we’re hurtling towards.
Like the rest of us, Villaseñor was looking for a silver lining. Fortunately, he found one. “I hate to say this, but we were able to grow the company three times larger,” he says, reflecting on the pandemic paradox that has guaranteed the future of his brand. Where once most of his time was sucked up playing CEO, the pandemic gave Villaseñor the opportunity to reacquaint himself with the life of a creative director and to double-down on an essential lesson from high school: group work is powerful.
The Rhude team finds solace and support in each other, and Villaseñor knows what a tremendous asset this connection represents. It was not only fashion that changed in 2020, but our relationships, too. Part of designing clothing that will resonate with broad audiences is making sure it hasn’t been created in a vacuum. “I ask my guys in production and logistics if [the clothing] is really ready-to-wear, because they have a good sense of what they want,” he says. “It’s a democratic environment.”
On a masked-up afternoon in Los Angeles, we met Villaseñor’s fashion family.
RHUIGI VILLASEÑOR, Founder, CEO, and Creative Director: “The culture I’m building with my team is about giving everyone a voice.”
SCOTT FORONDA, E-Commerce Special Projects and Logistics Manager: “My earliest memory is working out of the garage where it all started. Clothing racks everywhere. Everything was done by hand. We couldn’t afford trucks for delivery, so we drove samples and boxes from one contractor to the next. I clearly remember learning how to use a heat-press machine to make the original Swarovski tees.”
RHOXY VILLASEÑOR, Office Manager and VIP Specialist: “Rhude makes me feel like I’m part of a secret society. And all they ask for is trust.”
DAVID OLGUIN, Product Development: “We’re all co-workers, but at the end of the day we make sure everyone is OK in their personal life, too. In 2020, I realized that this job isn’t just about making products. It’s a community that, for some, we didn’t have in the past.”
YIRA DIROCIÉ, General Counsel: “I’m amazed all the time at what we’re able to pull off.”
MATT COFFEY, Production Team: “During 2020, we all made sure to keep checking in on each other. Whether that be comparing recipes or going over new workouts.”
OSCAR FIGUEROA, Graphic Design Assistant: “What makes us different is our grind. I’ve never worked with a team so into what they do and so driven to get the job done.”
VERONA TU, Assistant Designer: “Wearing Rhude makes me feel like an icon.”
DEVYN DiSTASIO, Technical Designer: “My earliest memory of Rhude was around the time of the first Maxfield collaboration. I remember seeing the brand on my feed constantly and thinking to myself, ‘Wow, this brand is putting out a totally new vibe.’”
MILES TALLEY, Sample Production Specialist: “Rhude is a lifestyle. Oftentimes, we discuss our customer, or ‘Rhude Boy,’ when designing collections.”
MIKEY MURGUIA, Executive Assistant: “We are tuned into people, and care about what they need and who they are. Where do they go on vacation? Who are their families? What do they value?”
SOFIIA SLYNKO, Womenswear Designer: “Back when I was home in Kyiv, I would see high-profile musicians, DJs, and local cool kids wearing graphic tees from Rhude. I joined recently to work on our brand-new womenswear. It’s a beautiful thing.”
Experience the full story and others in HIGHStyle, a print magazine by Highsnobiety available on newsstands and the Highsnobiety shop now.