Rinat Brodach On The Future Of Retail In The Post Pandemic World

An Interview With Orlando Zayas

Orlando Zayas, CEO of Katapult
Authority Magazine
Published in
10 min readJun 11, 2021

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Free shipping: Sometimes when I’m shopping online, having to pay for shipping can be a true turn off, as some brands will only give you free shipping after you spend a certain amount of money. That is just a way to make you buy more! I want the customer to buy what they want or need without having to spend too much, so we offer free shipping no matter how much or little you order.

As part of our series about the future of retail, I had the pleasure of interviewing Rinat Shayna Brodach, an Israeli American New York based fashion Designer. She was born in Israel to a family of Moroccan and Eastern European descent.

At an early age, Rinat knew that she wanted to be a fashion designer. Her curiosity of the draping and movement of fabric led her to further exploration of fashion. In her early childhood she used fashion as a mode of expression and continues to do so today.

After serving in the Israeli Air Force and powered with a stronger sense of self and direction, she moved to San Francisco in 2005 to attend the Academy of Art University. There she received her BFA in Fashion Design.

During her senior year, Rinat’s thesis collection was honored with a yearlong scholarship in Paris. In 2010 she moved to Paris to attend The Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne. That same year Rinat had her work published in Emerging Fashion Designers 2 by Sally Congdon-Martin. She remained in Paris for one more year working in the fashion house of Steffie Christiaens, among others, before returning to the United States in 2012 where she settled in New York City to start her own brand.

Rinat’s work stems from her extensive knowledge and training in draping that allow the woman beneath the garment to stand out and draw us in, while effortlessly and selectively enhancing a woman’s figure with designs that capture a gentle interplay between androgyny and sensuality. Her spirituality is the identity woven into each garment that exposes the light within the dark. An inside-out philosophy encapsulates her expertly finished garments held captive by the world that inspires her. Rinat Brodach remains committed to her philosophy of truth through expert finishing, draping, and connection to the soul throughout all of her collections.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Ever since I can remember myself I was always attracted to the arts! My mother would always take me with her shopping and introduced me to the world of fashion at a very young age.

When I was 12 years old I remember a new channel on cable TV called “FTV” (Fashion TV), which was 24 hours a day of fashion shows. I remember watching John Galliano, McQueen and more, and feeling this electricity within me. I realized I wanted to be a fashion designer, and decided that after I was done with my 2 years in the army (which is mandatory in Israel), I would move to America and go to school for fashion design — and I did!

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

In 2017 I sent out invitations to major fashion publications for my brand’s FW runway show. The collection was called “Diagnosis,” inspired by my mothers battle with cancer at the time, and the invitations were these plastic tubes that are used in hospitals to draw blood. I filled it with water and red glitter and put a sticker on the tube that normally would have the patient’s info, but instead it was the info for the runway show.

I mailed the tubes to the media in a “Hazard” bag from the hospital that I was able to get via a friend… and I got a call from a NYPD detective after a major magazine called 911! I thought this was a prank, but it was a legit detective — and after I cleared it up with him, I was so happy and slightly proud that I was able to create a disruption and have someone feel that sense of fear that I had with my mother’s battle.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or take away you learned from that?

One of my favorite mistakes is when I faked a sleeve pattern. I just drew it freehand without measuring the seams, sewed it on, and made it work. When it was worn during a fitting I was amazed how this beautiful drape happened to appear on the sleeve! I have NO idea how it happened, but it taught me to trust your gut and be “zen” with the paper pattern and fabric while creating.

Are you working on any new exciting projects now? How do you think that might help people?

At the moment I am working on a new collection! As a gender-free brand at Rinat Brodach, we view our garments as tools that empower ALL people to project confidence and explore new ways of expressing their true selves regardless of gender, body type, ethnicity, or ability. I also try to imbue each garment with my spiritual sensibility, which seeks to connect with your soul and empower you to stand out and draw others in.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Best life tips for a healthy life: You are what you put in your body! It is so important to eat well, exercise and sleep.

On a spiritual note my advice would be: BE PRESENT — we are all just humans, having worrying thoughts, fearing the future, listening to the voices in our head that are your ego’s plan to sabotage your life purpose. Be present, and ask yourself what is your purpose at this moment? Are you cooking dinner? Are you going for a run? Are you trying to fall asleep? Are you creating a new line of clothes? When these thoughts of your ego try to sneak in, bring yourself back to the present moment and say it out loud: “In this moment I am sewing samples for my new collection.” When you are present and focused on the present moment you allow magic to take place!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person to whom you are grateful, who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I am grateful to so many people that have helped me along my journey and continue to help and believe in me. But my biggest inspiration and to whom I am grateful the most is my father!

Not just because he is my father, but as a human being he has such an inspirational story of getting right back up after falling hard in his career. He is a true story of never giving up, and he has been my business advisor and my number one supporter since day one. I am so fortunate that I have such a wise person on my side to guide me through different situations in life, especially on the business side. I have truly become a businesswoman due to him!

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Yes! In 2018 I started to donate my time to my favorite nonprofit, Custom Collab. It’s a New York City-based entrepreneurship and workforce development program that trains and supports women from low-income and immigrant communities to enable them to launch fashion careers and businesses.

I would go once a week for 6 hours and assist the teacher with 10 students. It was such a humbling experience to meet women from different backgrounds and places in the world and share the magic of creating. I believe sharing is caring, and to be able to get you must give! Even during the pandemic, I have continued working with them — I just taught a master class via Zoom a few weeks ago.

Ok super. Now let’s jump to the main questions of our interview. The Pandemic has changed many aspects of all of our lives. One of them is the fact that so many of us have gotten used to shopping almost exclusively online. Can you share a few examples of different ideas that large retail outlets are implementing to adapt to the new realities created by the Pandemic?

Since ALL sales have moved to online platforms it is important to demonstrate true fit to different body types. Lots of large retail companies have been using technologies such as Browzwear or Clo that can help the customer create an immersive digital shopping experience with true-to-life 3D that makes sizing easier and allows customers to get a real feeling of how the garment will fit on different body types by showcasing the style from different angles. Using AR to virtually try on items in this way helps consumers be confident in their purchases and reduces the return rate.

In your opinion, will retail stores or malls continue to exist? How would you articulate the role of physical retail spaces at a time when online commerce platforms like Amazon Prime or Instacart can deliver the same day or the next day?

I do believe that retail store will continue to exist. As a fashion designer, I love to touch the material and see up close how things are made. But shopping is also a hobby and social activity for lots of people in the world — everyone needs to get out of the house sometimes, walking around to different stores is a great way to do it. So I do believe that there will be a new wave and new types of retail stores.

Honestly though, it is also very convenient to get your order in the mail the next day, and try it on at home. But I personally think it’s a pain in the ass to have to go to the post office to ship something back, although I know many people love this method.

The so-called “Retail Apocalypse” has been going on for about a decade. While many retailers are struggling, some retailers, like Lululemon, Kroger, and Costco are quite profitable. Can you share a few lessons that other retailers can learn from the success of profitable retailers?

I think these testaments continue to grow and get positive engagement, they know who their customer is!

Amazon is going to exert pressure on all of retail for the foreseeable future. New Direct-To-Consumer companies based in China are emerging that offer prices that are much cheaper than US and European brands. What would you advise to retail companies and e-commerce companies, for them to be successful in the face of such strong competition?

I think being authentic with your customers is key, which is something that Amazon and other huge corporations don’t do. I would also focus on smaller runs of production for your best sellers. Free shipping, returns, and accessible price points are also important to attracting and keeping customers.

Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to create a fantastic retail experience that keeps bringing customers back for more? Please share a story or an example for each.

  1. Create accessible designs while still being true to the brand: Design looks for ALL people, from daytime to night time. I feel like in the past our brand was a bit intimidating for non-fashion people and after being on Making the Cut I have learned how to take the main design elements from the brand and apply them to everyday wear to make it approachable for the majority of people.
  2. Have an accessible price point: Fashion should be affordable and welcoming for everyone, not just the rich and skinny! Everyone is entitled to feel good and have a fashionable pieces in their closet. Therefore we have made our price point as well as our clothes accessible to ALL!
  3. Free shipping: Sometimes when I’m shopping online, having to pay for shipping can be a true turn off, as some brands will only give you free shipping after you spend a certain amount of money. That is just a way to make you buy more! I want the customer to buy what they want or need without having to spend too much, so we offer free shipping no matter how much or little you order.
  4. Give back: Including a cute small gift as a token of appreciation along with your customer’s order can help build a connection with your brand. We include a handmade mask with all purchased orders as a thank you gift, and it’s lovely to receive that love back as people really do appreciate these small gestures!
  5. Be authentic: Give your customer a look into the process on how a garment is made! Via social media I share how we create garments to make the journey come to life for customers. A lot of people think fashion is very glamorous, but a lot of work goes into making a garment and I feel it helps to give a view into this process.

Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. Here is our final ‘meaty’ question. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

I’d like to think that I’m already part of the movement to free people from labels! My mission in life is to create clothing for ALL people, spreading the joy of creative freedom and curiosity by creating garments that anyone can use as a tool of self-expression. We want to create clothes that embrace the wearer and empower them to present themselves in ways that connect — and evolve — with their own unique gender or social identity.

How can our readers further follow your work?

Follow us at www.RinatBrodach.com or on Instagram @RINATBRODACH

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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