It’s not often that a label comes along promising a definitive collection of wardrobe staples – the sort that style aficionados spend many years assembling – and actually delivers. But with Raey, the newly launched menswear line exclusive to MATCHESFASHION.COM, the label’s creative director, Rachael Proud, who honed her skills as design director at Christopher Kane and Topshop, has done just that. Refreshingly, the man on the team’s mood board was ‘the good-looking man you spy in the pub’, rather than a cliché actor or model of the moment. In many ways this is very much what 38-year-old Proud, who hails from Newcastle, is about.
Because what you will find at Raey this spring is a perfectly edited collection of wardrobe-hero pieces; and possibly there is no ‘one’ inspiration because it’s the confident individual who is going to put their own stamp on the clothes – a collection of (usually impossible to find) design classics: oversized cashmere sweaters in pops of colour and with just the right slouch, sweatshirting, cashmere track pants and a grey suede jacket, which don’t just buy into the season’s sportswear trend but also make up the foundation of any stylish wardrobe.
Heading up a team who have also designed the Raey women’s collection, Proud is applying the same natural design aesthetic to menswear. ‘I think the point of these clothes is to give a backbone to other designers, but where the wearer can start off with clothes that are very simple yet still very beautiful.’
‘The mood of fashion has changed,’ says Ruth Chapman, joint CEO and co-founder of MATCHESFASHION.COM, of the decision to launch Raey now. ‘Men are increasingly looking for strong quality and great pricing. Raey offers effortless, luxurious layering pieces with a sporty feel that make key wardrobe essentials.’ Proud agrees. ‘Every piece had to feel very luxurious,’ she says. ‘A great basic – the best of its kind – takes consideration. I wanted this to be really high quality.’
While this collection is more athletic, it will eventually incorporate more tailored pieces. Proud professes to hate front panels – ‘I find those seams unnecessary and they sort of ruin the line’ – which is why Raey’s cashmere track pants (her favourite item, because that’s the epitome of wearable luxury) have no front seams. ‘Actually,’ she confides, her voice dropping to an inaudible whisper, ‘it’s possibly not the most cost-effective way to do things as you end up using a lot more fabric.’ But Proud, with her exacting fashion eye concerning front seams and ‘the right lining’, is adamant that only the very best will do.