For every garment sold, Rallier will source up to three uniforms from regions plagued by poverty and gender inequality and donate them to local girls in need.
Fay credits a visit to Kibera in Kenya for cementing her vision. Roughly 43 percent of girls Africa’s so-called “largest slum” end up dropping out of school. The gift of a uniform, on the other hand, can reduce absenteeism by as much as 64 percent.
“Even in cases without the requirement, schoolgirls likely wouldn’t go to school if they didn’t have a school uniform,” Fay told Ecouterre. “I think we can all relate to the influence that clothing has on where and how we decide to show up.”
Fay decided to link up with Shining Hope for Communities, a Kibera- and New York-based nonprofit that operates two tuition-free schools for girls in Kenya. It also runs an economic empowerment program that trains women, many of them mothers of school-age girls, to make uniforms from local materials.
SHE FOR SHE
In its debut series of 10 dress silhouettes, Rallier plays on the uniform connection.
“In essence, we each have a series of uniforms that we’ve developed for ourselves as adults,” Fay said. “I love the connectivity between giving a girl the uniform she needs to confidently go to school and creating a dress to make our customers feel their best in their own day-to-day lives.”
Rallier’s thoughtfulness extends to its fabrics, which include a Japanese cotton check, Australian merino wool, and Italian wool suiting from the only Eco Management and Audit Scheme–certified mill of its kind in Europe.
“I chose these fabrics because of their high quality and timelessness,” Fay said. “The level of transparency and social responsibility at the mills that those fabrics came from also impacted my decision-making.”
Each Rallier piece offers effortless throw-it-on elegance in playful silhouettes and crisp, tailored lines. The dresses are named after different women, including Lily, Fay’s grandmother and one of the inspirations behind Rallier’s timeless aesthetic.
“My grandmother grew up in a golden age of fashion in 1930 Shanghai,” Fay said. “After immigrating to San Francisco in 1949, she was able to support her family’s new American life by creating dresses inspired by what she saw growing up. When I was a little girl my grandmother always made dresses for me and encouraged me to pass them onto my own daughters one day.”
More than a line of womenswear, Rallier is keen to “elevate the notion of social responsibility in fashion,” according to Fay.
“The brand is inspired by the relationship between uniformity and individualism,” she said. “We all want to be part of something bigger than ourselves yet we also want to assert ourselves as individuals. It’s such an interesting theme to explore through fashion.”
All of the company’s wares are manufactured in New York City’s famous Garment District, where Fay got her start as a fashion intern at age 18.
“Manufacturing in Manhattan allows me to have a very close relationship with our production partners, which to me is crucial,” she said. “I’m able to see in person how production is progressing several times a week, which improves quality control and ensures that our design is being effectively translated into the physical product.”
Besides the practicality of being able to pop into a factory whenever she likes, Fay cites another reason for keeping production close to home.
“On a personal level, developing friendships with the people that actually make our clothes adds so much more meaning to the final product,” she said. “Our production partners are our co-creators. ”