While fashion is often depicted as telling a story through style, re.inc brand is a conversation. An ever evolving exchange that weaves and flows with the community they’ve fostered and the doors they open. rɘ—inc was founded by U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team members Megan Rapinoe, Tobin Heath, Meghan Klingenberg and Christen Press, alongside a foundation of absolute boss individuals committed to reimagining the status quo. On the brink of their popsicle collection release, I sat down with founding advisor and Chief Experience Officer, Jessica Tillyer and Brand & Content Development Coordinator, Natalie Yang. What seems to deepen the conversation that this company and brand embark on is their core values that are deeply rooted in the principle of sports. “When you’re an athlete you’re really open to other perspectives and feedback because you have that coaching, and I really see that within our company. There’s so much coaching, learning and willingness for that to happen which is totally different from anything I have experienced,” Jessica tells me.
Elaborating, Jessica states, “I think there’s something different about a company started by female athletes because they are so used to having to fight for their place in the world. And that’s really powerful.” Jessica revealed that she’s yearned to create a workplace environment such as this for 12 years and has yet to achieve it, until re–inc. Natalie, a 2020 graduate of Harvard University, has been with the brand for over a year and reiterated how her experience has differed from those of her peers. “it’s such a collaborative space where everybody’s input is super valued. It almost doesn’t feel like there is necessarily a hierarchy, which is something that is really unique,” Natalie states.
There’s a humble grit to their collections, a progression of the conversations they are pushing forward by listening, not telling. Jessica emphasizes, “as a company we have the values that are driven by our mission, but we don’t claim to have the answers, so we’re constantly asking questions in our posts and constantly generating this two-way conversion, it’s never one-way.”
Beyond the innate passion that lives amongst those behind the brand, there’s a real focus on the ethical intentions of every decision they make. Their spring Black and White collection was manufactured in India, with a company who has a platform to provide proper wages for their workers, alongside a renewable water and resource agenda for their organic cotton. For the latest ‘Popsicle’ collection, rɘ—inc brought production back to the United States. The all organic cotton was milled in North Carolina, while also sourcing some recycled fabrics. From there, it’s shipped to Brooklyn and manufactured in a female owned factory. Minimizing their supply chain and sustainable practices were of course at the forefront of their motives, but they also wanted the source to feel closer to those who would be wearing the clothes.
“YOU’RE PART OF THIS COMMUNITY, YOU HAVE THIS SENSE OF BELONGING, BUT THE CLOTHES ARE JUST A TEMPLATE FOR YOUR OWN SENSE OF SELF-EXPRESSION. AND THAT’S USUALLY MISSING IN FASHION, IT’S USUALLY ABOUT ‘FIT INTO HOW THIS COMPANY WANTS YOU TO LOOK.’ BUT REALLY, WE’RE SAYING FIT INTO HOWEVER YOU WANT TO LOOK,” STATES JESSICA. DESCRIBING THE BRAND AS ‘LIMITLESS,’ EVERY PIECE IS NONBINARY, WITH SIZES XXS TO XXXL, AND WITH ZERO QUALMS AS TO WHERE IT’S APPROPRIATE TO WEAR. BOTH NATALIE AND JESSICA ECHOED WHAT AN AMAZING FEELING IT IS TO SEE THEIR CUSTOMERS EMBRACE THE PIECES IN A VARIETY OF SETTINGS. “THERE WAS THIS ONE AWESOME PHOTO OF SOMEONE IN OUR COMMUNITY SKATEBOARDING TO WORK AND THEY WERE WEARING BW SWEATPANTS WITH A BLAZER AND IT WAS SUCH A CUTE LOOK AND I THINK THAT’S WHAT WE’RE TRYING TO DO.”
The latest, ‘Popsicle’ capsule collection was released in microdrops, all with discussion inducing backstories and 5% of proceeds donated to small grassroot organizations. Examining the pieces is a bit of a juxtaposition of emotions. At first glance, there’s an elated nostalgia that washes over you. There’s a familiarity from the heat of the color schemes that almost instantaneously can bring you to youthful days. Days of dripping in the beating sun, taking cold mineral sips of water from the garden hose in an almost dizzying elation. And then there’s the question of ‘Freedom’ that the concept that this collection challenges you to examine. Jessica reveals that the tension of the collection is intentional, and evokes the question: “Who gets to feel free, the injustice in freedom and the inequity in freedom through clothes that, for many folks, remind them of that inner freedom they felt as children.”
NATALIE TELLS US THAT WHILE THIS LINE STRAYED FROM THE MORE MUTED TONES THEY ARE KNOWN FOR, THE BRIGHT COLORS AID IN THE CONVERSATION THAT SURROUNDS THE CONCEPT OF FREEDOM BY “INCORPORATING NEW ELEMENTS THAT ARE NOT AFRAID TO STAND OUT AND CONFRONT THE TENSION THAT WE ARE TRYING TO BRING ATTENTION TO.”
Elaborating on the depth of the capsule, Natalie states, “In exploring freedom, something that we keep saying is that there are so many different dimensions of freedom. So almost having these different kinds of microdrops allows us to go deeper into these conversations around what it means to be, ‘Free to be young, free to be well, free to be you, and free to be strong.’ All of these different conversations are very deep and so I think that having the time and space to really delve into those with our community is what is so interesting about these microdrops and what makes it very engaging over the course of the summer.”
JESSICA AND NATALIE REITERATED HOW THEIR COMMUNITY OF FOLLOWERS ARE REALLY THE INDIVIDUALS WHO PUSH THESE INITIATIVES ACROSS AND HAVE FULLY EMBRACED THE GRASSROOT ORGANIZATIONS THAT BENEFIT FROM EACH MICRODROP. “THIS IS ONE MORE WAY FOR OUR COMMUNITY TO FEEL THIS SENSE OF BELONGING, CONNECTION AND THAT NEIGHBORHOOD FEELING THAT WE ALL ARE LOOKING FOR, IN THE FACT THAT IT’S NOT ONLY ABOUT ‘I WEAR THIS AND THIS SAYS I’M A RE-IMAGINER, BUT ALSO THE ACTIONS THAT I’M TAKING THROUGH THIS COMPANY ARE ALLOWING ME TO REIMAGINE THE WORLD.’”
WHAT THIS BRAND IS ALSO A SYMBOL FOR IS THE FREEDOM THAT FASHION HAS ALLOWED FOR PROFESSIONAL ATHLETES TO EXPRESS THEMSELVES BOTH AS A PERSON, AWAY FROM THEIR TALENTS IN THEIR SPORT. A LEAD BY EXAMPLE OPPORTUNITY THAT THE FOUNDERS AND TEAM BEHIND RE–INC IS SPEAKING INTO EXISTENCE WITH THEIR COLLECTIONS, AND CHALLENGING THE GENERAL PUBLIC TO EXPLORE ALONGSIDE THEM. “WE WANT OUR CLOTHES TO GIVE PEOPLE THE STRENGTH TO RE-IMAGINE.”