Ryan Roche, Knit Wit

by Eddie Roche

A gem from last week’s NYFW print issues of The Daily that you might’ve missed…Granted, she was recently named the runner-up in the Vogue/CFDA Fashion Fund competition, and yes, her company is now flush with a $100,000 grant. But what intrigued us most about Ryan Roche? That splendid last name!

Let’s get right to it. Are you my long-lost sister?
You might be husband’s brother! Roche is my married name. My husband, Garrett, was born and raised in Dublin.

What’s it like to be married to an Irish man?
He has an amazing sense of humor that, 12 years later, I’m still getting used to. Everybody says that I sound Irish because I’ve picked up his accent.

Where did you meet?
I was working at the Costume National store in Soho and he was in town from Dublin, visiting my boss and her husband. It was love at first sight. We spent a week together, and when he went back to Ireland, we spoke on the phone every day. He moved back to New York, and three months later we got married.

Do people mispronounce your last name?
They do! There’s always a little bit of hesitation about how to pronounce it. It’s more of a French name, so it’s very pretty. The Irish pronounce it more like the bug—it’s a little sharper at the end.

What does it mean?
I should have done my research before this conversation! It doesn’t have anything to do with a color, does it?

Would you like to call a friend?
I’d like to call my husband.

It means rock! Have you ever heard the expression, Mon dieu est ma roche?
My God is my rock.

Bingo! The Roche coat of arms shows a shield with…
Something to do with a horse?

Three fish!
Well, I have three Pisces in my family—my husband, daughter and son.

When I was growing up, I had a golden retriever named Ryan Roche.
Why was it named Ryan?

My sister named her after Ryan from the soap Ryan’s Hope.
That’s why my mom named me Ryan! You know, 97 percent of Ryans are men.

You have dogs as well, correct?
We have Pony, a poodle, and two Rhodesian ridgebacks, Rose and Johanna.

Johanna was my grandmother’s name!
No way!

Now that we’ve sorted that out, congrats on your recent Vogue/CFDA Fashion Fund win.
I’m still riding the wave of it. It was definitely an incredible whirlwind. I applied not even knowing if I’d make it into the top 50, so to make it all the way was just beyond. We all poured so much heart and soul into it. The financial aspect has been incredible, but the relationships that I’ve been able to build and the support that I now have is beyond. It feels like my roots in fashion have started to grow.

Who was your biggest advocate on the panel?
Anna [Wintour] reviewed my portfolio and application, and having that initial support gave me confidence. She was just getting to know me, but she saw something in me. Andrew Rosen was incredibly supportive and yet in watching the show, he seemed to be my biggest critic. He and I have had a few conversations since and he said I could call him anytime. They’ve all been so lovely.

You cried a lot on the show!
Initially, it was so emotional. The film crew also likes to pull it out of you and early on, they realized I was easy. Growing up in Idaho, I had no idea you could even have a career in fashion. Isaac Mizrahi’s documentary Unzipped was pivotal to me when I was in high school. My best friend who doesn’t even care about fashion watched it with me 100 times. I wanted to be there.

Will you be crying for us today?
What kind of questions are you going to ask? I’ve toughened up a bit.

We’ll be kind. Kenzo’s Humberto Leon and Carol Lim are now your mentors.
I’m their first mentee. It’s an incredible gift. They’ve packed boxes, so they’ve been in my shoes and have built up this incredible business. I can be honest with them.

You’ve been referred to as “the queen of knitwear.” No pressure!
It blows my mind. Those are such huge compliments. I love my work so much, and it’s incredible that people appreciate it.

What’s your aesthetic?
I make clothes that are modern and feminine, with minimal romance. Knitwear has been my heart and soul, but I’m slowly adding in more pieces.

You work and live in upstate New York. What are the pros and cons?
I have lots of space, and it’s affordable. I wake up every morning and look out into a big field. I’m isolated, but it quiets all the noise and allows me to focus and be productive. We’ve been up there six years and have a really beautiful quality of life. It doesn’t limit me at this point—I’ve just hired two employees who also live upstate—but it might become an obstacle if I want to hire more highly skilled technical designers.

Do you have a cow?
No, but I used to have six goats, 50 chickens, and ducks. They’ve found a new home now.

What’s next?
I want a full lifestyle brand. I see something so big, and people who know me closely and have been in my world really believe in it.
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