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Fashion & Self-Isolation: Fashion Designer Meryll Rogge

Close-up of a look: brown jacket and pants with a blue blouse and yellow leather gloves
Design by Meryll Rogge
Meryll Rogge

Meryll Rogge studied in the fashion department at the royal academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. After her bachelor’s degree, she worked for seven years in New York as Women’s Collection Designer at Marc Jacobs. She has also previously worked as Head of Women’s Design at Dries Van Noten for four years. A few months ago, Rogge launched her namesake collection at Paris fashion week for the Autumn/Winter 2020 season.

The presentation for our first collection in Paris went well. I am very happy with the way our collection was received by the press and buyers. You could already sense the crisis as buyers were more cautious; it would definitely have been easier without the Coronavirus. When the pandemic took a hold of America a few weeks later and the lockdown became global, we responded immediately.

We are a young brand that has the luxury of flexibility. We decided to postpone our collection by a quarter of a season to a later release in September and October. Otherwise, our retailers would barely have two months to sell the collection before sales season and Black Friday.

During my time at Marc Jacobs and Dries Van Noten, I was always in close contact with sales and production teams. I have learned a lot from my colleagues over the years. Dries Van Noten also listened to our plan to deal with this crisis and shared his own experience and advice. During this uncomfortable time, it helps a little that I’ve been in the business for some time and that I have mentors.

The quarantine has had less impact on my daily life. My boyfriend and I have been working in the countryside near Deinze for almost six months without seeing anyone. We live in an old barn near my parents’ house and we have a large, open space with our fabrics and mood boards.

Now that my parents are also in quarantine at home, they help us with the production. Meetings with our freelancers are now online and mood boards are created in PDF format. I do need structure when I work and I like to sit behind my desk in the right clothing. I dress as If I were going ‘out to my office’, maybe a little less flashy and my shoes are more comfortable now.

We have a small company with no permanent staff or external financiers. We did have the help of numerous volunteers and freelancers to make this collection and that has been really special. Without them, we would never have been able to do it. Now we have to be careful with our cash flow and I have to constantly keep that in mind during the design process. Which fabrics are feasible? Which pieces are essential for the story I want to tell with this collection? There is a silver lining. Creativity flourishes in the straitjacket of financial constraints and crises. With my next collection, I want to let people dream.

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