[Canniseur: I can’t decide. While i appreciate the quality of the garments Rachel is getting, I’m not sure about the cannabis theme. Lots of people wear Jack Daniels and other alcoholic beverage t-shirts, but are they ever really classy? Should cannabis be any different? I guess everyone has to decide for themselves. These are quite nice though.]
Rachel Quiles has built a cult following with her successful company Vintage Redeux, a men’s and women’s apparel brand based in Los Angeles, California. The twist? All the garments she uses are vintage. Quiles sews original handmade patches sewn onto vintage pieces she has personally sourced from thrift stores across the state and beyond.
Her mission is simple: cut down on the collective waste of over-manufacturing. According to the EPA, more than 10 million tons of textile waste (e.g., clothing and linens) is added to landfills every year. That rounds out to around 60 pounds per person, per year.
Her Dutch army spirit animal jackets put Vintage Redeux on the radar of all good streetwear sartorialists and freethinking fashionistas. Now, the talented designer has turned her attention to cannabis with her Mary Jane Gang, paying homage to the heritage scene with a fresh, modern vibe. The Mary Jane line has also extended from the iconic Dutch army jackets to include luxurious smoking robes and denim jackets.
We spoke to Quiles about her inspiration, sustainable fashion choices and changing the stigma surrounding cannabis.
When, where and how did the idea for Vintage Redeux begin?
Vintage Redeux came to fruition after I was laid off from a dream job in 2011. Little did I know, it would be a blessing in disguise because I was forced to face what I wanted my future to look like. I’ve always loved vintage clothing and had a knack for finding it, so I slowly started buying vintage and selling on Etsy. After a while, I was bored with online resale and turned to all the local markets in Los Angeles. That was all fine and dandy but I didn’t feel that I was challenging myself. That’s when the idea sparked to update all this high-quality vintage clothing.
Tell us the story behind the name Vintage Redeux.
After having success with my little shop for a few years, I thought it was best to create a name for all these pieces that were being reworked. Vintage Re-Do came to my mind immediately but I didn’t love the look of it written out. At the time, I had a partner in this venture and came up with “deux” — the French word for two. So it’s a bit of a made-up spelling but it looked cool. I no longer have a partner but there’s no way I would ever change the name.
What makes Vintage Redeux unique in the marketplace?
Vintage Redeux is unique because it’s not trying to follow trends, fads, or seasons. I make timeless pieces that transcend any box it should be confined to. I create and design artwork for me and just happen to be lucky enough that it speaks to other people, too. I love what I do because it doesn’t have any specific demographic. I’ve seen Vintage Redeux on all genders young and old, all body types, and all styles making it a unique piece for everyone.
Tell us about the craftsmanship that goes into a typical Vintage Redeux piece.
Take the Dutch army jacket for example. Every jacket is from the Seventies and Eighties and handpicked from a military warehouse. It’s chosen for quality; no holes, no stains, all snaps intact, no parts missing, etc. Then, the chosen jackets are thoroughly washed. I silkscreen the Mary Jane patches, cut them out, and place them on the jacket. Everything is sewn onto the garment along with a custom tag inside. From there it either goes to the store or the customer.
What inspired you to develop a Mary Jane line?
A while back, around Christmas time, I was trying to come up with a gift for a dear friend of mine, who had also been my one and only weed dealer in L.A. He was such a special person to all of us in our solid, little group. I was already making Dutch army jackets at the time with different patches but I liked the idea of creating a cheeky patch set to make us an unofficial Mary Jane gang.
When he received the gift, he was blown away by how cool it was! Being the biggest cheerleader for my company, he insisted that I sell this jacket to everyone, not just as a one-off for friends. Little did he know that it would be such a hit and synonymous with my company. I lost my dear friend last year to cancer, but he would be so proud to see how much our little “gang” has grown!
How do you think your clothes help change the opinion of cannabis-inspired fashion?
My biggest challenge with creating the Mary Jane patches was breaking down the stigma of wearing “cannabis branded clothing” without being tacky. My friend I created this for was 52, so he wasn’t about to wear some kid shit. I wanted to produce a tasteful design that anyone could wear without it being overly in-your-face. Thus, the creation of a beautiful, classic-looking woman named Mary Jane, smoking a joint, was born.
How important are sustainable practices to you in the current eco-conscious climate?
If only people could see the amount of vintage clothing, second-hand clothing, and military surplus the world is sitting on. They would be shocked. It doesn’t make sense for me to create new pieces with possibly unethical overseas practices, sell for nothing, and have it fall apart tomorrow. Rather, I can find these authentic pieces that are perfectly faded and worn-in, that other companies would struggle to reproduce and charge premium prices. Why not contribute to supporting recycled clothing companies, all the while not sacrificing your standard of quality?
How do you want people to feel when wearing your clothes?
I want people to feel comfortable, feel confident, and know that they’re wearing a piece of history. All of my clothes come with a previous story and it feels good to know you are continuing that story for many more years to come.
Do you have any design heroes?
Norma Kamali. I want to look and feel like her at 74 and accomplish as much as she has in her lifetime. She’s an incredible inspiration because she’s still continuing to create and do what she loves successfully.
Where can we follow you?
What don’t you leave the house without?
My Mary Jane jacket! It’s the perfect complementary piece to every outfit.