At San Diego Comic-Con 2016 I got to speak with Rachel Antonoff concerning her upcoming fashion line inspired by Archie Comics‘ Betty and Veronica. In June the clothing line was announced, though details were scarce.
Last night, during New York Fashion Week, the line debuted and our friend Jeff Trexler was there to snap photos which he has graciously allowed us to use in this interview.
Get the scoop about the upcoming fashion line and the origin of the Clinton campaign slogan “I’m With Her.”
Graphic Policy: So there hasn’t been a lot released beyond the announcement that you’ll be working with Archie to create a clothing line based on Betty and Veronica. Can you give some more details?
Rachel Antonoff: Yah. It’s going to be women’s contemporary, ready to wear clothing. We’re doing a lot of varsity themed stuff which feels very Betty and Veronica, also very Riverdale. But also is on trend with the season so that worked out well in our favor. So we have some varsity jackets, some cheer skirts, but all Betty and Veronica… ized. We have patches, prints, various types of prints. One is called an in progress print which was inspired by watching Dan Parent draw and seeing the inprogress drawing going from one line to the finished thing.
GP: Is it more graphic shirts or is it style of clothing? Both?
RA: It’s both. We do a lot of graphic t-shirts and sweat shirts and then a lot of regular clothing.
GP: How’d you get involved in the project?
RA: They actually reached out to us. I got an email from them and was so excited, I didn’t know what to do with myself. We just went from there.
GP: When I think of Betty of Veronica I think fashion. They’re fashion icons in a way…
RA: They are…
GP: What are your thoughts on the two character’s fashion and how it’s involved over the years?
RA: Well, it reall is astounding to me, the artists are and were true fashion designers. When you go through the archive and you look at the outfits, they’re so specific, they’re so detailed. And, they’re so on trend for whatever time period they’re drawn in. It’s amazing. I don’t know if they were just gifted fashion designers or they did an epic amount of research. I found it totally impressive. I think of the clothing throughout the history of Archie comics as a character unto itself.
GP: Comic fans come in all shapes and sizes. Betty and Veronica are a very particular size. As a designer, how do you create clothing with their aesthetic, but make it so anyone can wear it?
RA: I think as we move into the future and Archie continues to evolve, I think it’s important that Betty and Veronica do as well. Specifically, with that in mind. Betty and Veronica are an idea. Do you know what I mean? They’re a feeling. I don’t think they should be as binary as two thin girls. I’m just not into that. So, we are working really hard, we really want to diversify things and make sure that that’s very obvious as we put the line out there and that it’s for all shapes and sizes, just different people, different ages, different ethnicities. That’s very important to me.
GP: With the fashion debuts you’ve done, they’ve been very unique. Have you talked to Archie about that?
RA: Yes, we’re going to do an event. I’m really excited. That’s always one of my favorite parts. My grandmother told me I should be a Bar Mitzvah planner if this didn’t work out. So, yeah I’m very excited for that.
GP: You’re very politically active and Archie has been really ahead of the times recently when it comes to things. Are thoughts of that going through your head as you come up with this line?
RA: Yes. First of all, some of the things that have been done within Archie Comics has been so cool to me. The fact that Jughead is Aesexual. The fact that there’s a gay character. I just think it’s incredibly important. I did going into this consider potential backlash that these are two very thin white women. Not a lot of diversity going between the two of them. Like I said I think it’s really important to put it right out there from the beginning that it’s not going to be like that.
RA: I want it to be accessible and relatable for all.
GP: It’s a little off topic, but our site does a lot of comics and politics. You coined “I’m With Her” which has taken on a life of its own.
RA: Yes, it’s amazing.
GP: For you you how does it feel for it to take off as it has?
RA: Really cool. We got “I’m With Her” from the original “I’m With Stupid” from back in the day. There were t-shirts that said “I’m With Stupid.” So, it’s not like we invented it. I was really psyched to see it in her campaign. We’re doing a reprint of ours just because… why not?
GP: Has anyone from the campaign reached out?
RA: No, but we spoke to them and talked about doing something together and we haven’t figured out yet. I’m a pretty big supporter.
GP: To get back on topic. With Betty and Veronica, are you being inspired by any of the other characters or is it just those two?
RA: For now, it’s really just focused on just those two. In our research we constantly finding things like Ethel. There’s just so many cool great characters, so there’s many ways the line could go, but for now the line is pretty B&V centric.
GP: Are you focused on a certain era or is it looking at their entire history?
RA: It’s an interesting combination of throughout and now. We of course want people to buy the clothes, so we have to pay attention to what the current trends are. It’s sort of a combo.
GP: For you, off of these two characters, what is their distinct signature thing?
RA: One of thing about them is that they were constantly stylish no matter the era they were in. So, one of my favorite Betty and Veronica eras was the 70s and Veronica got really into women’s lib. There’s some really cool… one of our sweatshirts says “female powered” and is taken directly from the comic that Veronica made these sweatshirts for a rally.
That’s one of my favorite things about them. They did evolve. Their fashion evolved so much over the decades and was so on point. So that stuck out to me.
And then of course, there was the comic I had as a child and still have. And those specific outfits in those comics are iconic to me because they’re mine.
GP: Geek culture has really exploded in fashion over the years. As a designer, what do you look for to be inspired by it?
RA: That’s so interesting. For this we looked directly to the comics. Because there’s so much material you could go through the archives forever and never hit the bottom. So, we had so much to work with there and that’s where we looked for inspiration.
As a whole we didn’t look into geek culture, so I hope we got it right.
GP: As a whole beyond Archie, what are your thoughts of geekdom transcending and becoming the dominant pop culture?
RA: I think it’s awesome. There’s lots of collaberations happening nowadays. With various comics, superheroes. It’s really cool.
GP: With the actual desing process, what is that? I’d imagine Archie has some say into it.
RA: We, the Antonoff team, put together a collection. We present it at the sketch phase and get notes and discuss and it then turns into a sample line. And then more notes and discussion. And then it’s off to production. It’s the same process that we do internally, but with the Archie team.
GP: Since you’re so politically active. Are you focusing on the manufacturing aspect of it?
RA: We are really excited to be manufacturing with the same factories that we work with right now for the most part. So we’ve already vetted them. We’ve been there visiting them. We know what’s happening there is on the up and up. So that makes me feel very comfortable.
GP: I think you’d be able to sleep better knowing that. So, final question. When is the line being released?
GP: Thanks so much. It was great meeting you.
And check out the video Jeff shot at the event below!