MEET ROSA RENDL:
THE austria-BORN DESIGNER creates GENDER-NEUTRAL SWIMSUITS FOR EVERY TYPE OF BODY
By Katrina Froelich
8 · 4 · 19
Rosa Rendl, the creative genius behind the eponymous swimwear line Rendl , is a designer who is passionate about inclusivity, collaborating with female creatives, and creating long-lasting and chic swimwear. In a market saturated with new fashion brands claiming that they have the next “it” suit, Rosa aims to create something new by designing timeless and flattering pieces. Plus, her suits are gender neutral and look great on every type of body.
Tough To Tame sat down with Rosa to talk Rendl, sustainability and body positivity.
How did you start Rendl?
I started the label when a friend of mine discovered a swimsuit I made for my fashion diploma in 2007. This was years later and I pulled it out of the basement of my mum’s place so we could go for a swim. She saw it and was convinced that it was the swimsuit every woman needed. So I started to produce it in a very limited edition for the first season andcalled it Swimsuit No.1. It is still one of my bestsellers.
What makes Rendl different?
One of the fundamental design approaches behind Rendl is that they’re designed as if they were made to wear anytime. As tops, daytime and nighttime wear, but also function for swimming. The very first style I designed as part of a womenswear collection and for the show I styled it as a top with pants but it was important for me that it was made from swimwear fabric and worked as a swimsuit as well as a top.
This is why I slowly began to enhance the collection by adding pieces like skirts, pants,and dresses so to give an option to wear a full Rendl look. I don’t see swimwear as intimate clothing -- on the contrary, I see it as a very public kind of clothing, so it’s important to have a design concept that considers that. I am thinking about dressing rather than undressing when designing.
The line used to be called Veronica Dreyer. Why the name change?
Rendl is my surname and it is a neutral, genderless word that can be filled with associations. That gives me more options to build the image of the brand rather than having a very feminine, mysterious name attached to it that already triggers certain fantasies. Having my surname as a brand name also helps to identify and connect deeper with the brand, for myself and others, as it creates more transparency for who stands behind the brand. I might add menswear to the collection soon which it was also one aspect when deciding to change the name.
It’s clear that you are using models who look like real women. Why is this important to you?
It is obviously very important for me, but like so many things in my work, this came very naturally to me as I simply prefer to work with friends, people I already know and women I respect and who inspire me. So most of the women you see in the campaign images are actually friends of mine or friends of friends. Some of them are artists, musicians, poets who also model on the side. I also work with professional models, but usually I cast them myself rather than working with agencies. I recently also photographed my sister. (I photograph my own imagery.) So when you say they look “real” it's because I chose them by their personalities and because I see some beauty in them that interests me in working with them and have them represent my label rather than just choosing them by their looks and by some images. Of course it is also important to me to reflect diversity regarding skin colour, background, age and size.
What is the inspiration behind your designs?
Inspiration for my designs,color concepts and shapes often comes from 20th Century (often female) European artists and designers such as Eileen Gray, Jean Arp, Katarzyna
Kobro, Emilie Flögl, Man Ray, Sonia Delaunay, Friedrich Kiesler, Kiki Kogelnik, to name a few.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced since starting your own business?
There’s many challenges when running a business and I think this is never going to stop, so I am learning to stay calm and do things step by step. I learned that there is a solution for everything. It’s a constant up and down but I think the rewarding moments of the ups make the downs tolerable. I love being independent and free to allot my own time. I would give a lot for that.
What makes Rendl an eco-friendly brand?
Rather than designing trends focused for each season I am building up a permanent collection called CORE. CORE is a permanent line of timeless pieces that consciously go against fashion circle predicaments and overproduction which contribute to fast fashion. The pieces also have a low-carbon footprint. Since all materials are sourced in Europe, the fabrics are made in North Italy, all pieces are manufactured in Slovakia and Hungary in small production companies, and the label itself is based in Vienna. There are only a few hours to drive between all these locations. Its output is also traceable as we have a personal relationship to the seamstresses in Bratislava (which is just a one hour drive from Vienna) and Budapest (a three hour drive) where the swimsuits are sewn. It is important to have a good relationship with them and pay them decently.
Plus, the Spring/Summer 2020 collection uses recycled fabrics made of Econyl (recycled nylon).
What’s your all-time favorite suit you’ve designed?
The answer to this must be Swimsuit No.1. Everything started with this piece and it makes me proud that I designed it, developed the pattern, and sewed the first prototype myself. I still keep the original piece of the diploma collection in my archive.