The perfect Hamptons dress always seemed so elusive — until Rhode stormed the scene with well-priced, high-style minis, midis, and maxis that are equally at home at Ditch Witch and Southampton Bath & Tennis. Meet designers Purna Khatau and Phoebe Vickers!
First and foremost, how did you two meet?
Phoebe Vickers: Purna and I were paired as roommates freshman year in college. While we never planned to start a brand at the time, there was definitely a shared lament over our tiny closet space. Perhaps that was a hint toward our future.
What are your professional backgrounds?
Purna Khatau: I was a women’s buyer at Harvey Nichols.
Vickers: I worked in advertising and as a travel and fashion photographer.
What inspired you to start a brand?
Khatau: We both fundamentally felt that there was a gap in the market for the kind of clothes we wanted to wear on vacation — day dresses that could easily transition to evening that were timeless and sophisticated but grounded in a playful holiday spirit. What started as such has now evolved into being a year-round brand, while the core of the brand DNA retains that spirit of adventure and fun.
Where did the Rhode name come from?
Vickers: When we started, the collection was really grounded in true resortwear. In Greek mythology, Rhode was a sea nymph who was also known as the goddess of the island Rhodes, so it made sense to us to name the brand Rhode. We also both honestly love the name Rhode, from a phonetic and a graphic design perspective, too.
Where do you source your prints?
Khatau: We develop all our prints in-house with inspiration drawn from all over the place. To be totally honest, they really depend on my mood and what I am feeling at that moment in time — it could be a Persian rug, a trip to Kenya, or something as simple as the flowers in my backyard.
How many products are currently in the line?
Khatau: We have around 30 styles per season and are now showing five collections a year.
Where can we find Rhode in the Hamptons?
Vickers: Kirna Zabête, Intermix, and Cabana.
Who are your biggest and best supporters?
Vickers: Our totally loyal customers who continue to shop with us and are always sharing their moments on social media, whether by tagging the brand or using our hashtag, #OnTheRHODE. As far as our more visible customers, we have been extremely lucky to have the support of so many talented fashion editors and celebrities from the very start, such as Laura Brown, Tracee Ellis Ross, Busy Philipps, and Beyoncé.
How do you hope to grow the brand in the future?
Khatau: We see the brand really evolving into a true lifestyle brand. At the moment, we’re working on expanding into shoes and bags, which we are excited about. Stay tuned!
What are your favorite spots to visit when you come out East?
Vickers: Our first stop will be the Fairview farmstand — they have the best cheese! I also love Sagg Main Beach for a morning swim, followed by lunch at the bar at Estia’s Little Kitchen.
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