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Silke might just be the sweetest girl I’ve never actually met (like, in person). Which is a shame, because this down-to-Earth babe is spunky and honest, the kind of refreshing that you just want to make your friend. Part rad designer, part incredible photographer, and totally creative, Silke knows what she likes and is not willing to compromise her beliefs, which is why she’s a total babe. Self-taught, she came from the West Coast and  moved to NY to work in high end retail stores like Marc Jacobs and Betsey Johnson. Then, she opened a vintage shop on a whim in Williamsburg called Shown To Scale, making a few items to sell for fun as she taught herself how to do clothing production. After flying to L.A. a few times and showing her pieces to the execs of NastyGal out of her suitcase (talk about an epic first major client!), she decided it was time to close up her Brooklyn shop and relocate back where she’d come from, closer to her warehouse and her roots. With a crazy number of creative projects in her life right now, Silke started RUHI almost on a whim — creating a handful of pieces just two days before the Agenda Tradeshow, she showed with her two friends’ acid trippy crazy brand Teenage, and people liked it so much that the line was born. The first capsule collection is due out in March, and if “soft” and “comfy” are two words you like when thinking about what’s on your bod, I highly suggest keeping an eye out for RUHI. — SHAYNA GONSALVES

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SHK: RUHI IS A VERY CHEEKY, PLAYFUL NAME FOR A BRAND. HOW’D YOU COME UP WITH IT?

SILKE LABSON: Well, people think it’s “roo-hee,” which sounds better to say to your parents when you want something from the line as a gift. But, it’s really R U HI or “Are You High.” It really was just some slang my friends would use over texts when we thought our friends were being stupid or acting like they were on something we would ask, “r u hi?” Like my other line Shown To Scale, the name just came up as a joke spontaneously and stuck. I was with a friend and I asked him, “r u hi?” and then I freaked out and said “OMG THAT’S MY NEW LINE.”

WHAT’S THE RUHI IMAGE LIKE?

RUHI is laid back and just chill. I work styling and doing photography and live around fashion. I love it and love design but, at the end of the day, I just want to be in soft clothes that I can lounge in and not worry if it will snag. It’s a line that is based around making soft clothes for your bod. You should just want to wear it all the time like your favorite PJs. But they’re all designed so you don’t look like you should pair it with Uggs on your way out. Don’t get me wrong, on the down low, I secretly want Uggs for the house — but they should stay there and never, ever leave. You can wear RUHI out to a bar and not look like an idiot or homeless (already have done this with the samples… sorry buyers).

I pull a lot of inspiration from vintage everything. I used to own a vintage store so I have a soft spot for all things vintage. For example, my “Almost Stoked” tee was based off of an old BMX sticker and my jogger shorts are based off of a ’70s short I had. You will see more of that coming your way.

PAJAMAS MIGHT BE THE GREATEST THING EVER, BUT YOU CAN’T REALLY GO OUT IN PUBLIC WHILE WEARING THEM… HOW IS RUHI GOING TO BRIDGE THAT GAP?

I mean, you really can go out in public. Go to any Westfield mall and you will see this. I personally don’t care if people do wear PJs out. It’s just the Uggs and Crocs I don’t care for, but anything else is fine with me. RUHI is just a really really really good option so you feel soft and cozy, but aren’t covered in South Park print nightwear. All the pieces in the line can be dressed up or down and are more in line with street fashion rather than high-end. I highly recommend NOT wearing my line to a nice event. Or, if you do — please record yourself getting denied entry and send it to me to post on Instagram because that’s hilarious.

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A LOT OF PEOPLE THINK THAT COMFORT MEANS SACRIFICING STYLE. DO YOU AGREE?

No, did you watch Chanel’s runway show with sneakers? Style always changes. Right now, sneakers and Birkenstocks are the equivalent of a heel and it’s probably the best trend that I hope never ends.

It’s always HOW you wear things that make it “stylish.” Some people can pull off anything. They can wear sweatpants and a leather jacket and look stylish as hell. Maybe that’s because when you are comfortable in what you wear you act more confident… That’s some food for thought right there.

RUHI IS STILL VERY, VERY NEW. WHAT ARE YOUR HOPES AND GOALS FOR THE BRAND?

RUHI is newer than new. I literally made the samples two days before my launch at Agenda Tradeshow and shot like two photos with my favorite dude photographer Ted Emmons that night. I was able to force him to shoot it late night by bringing him beer. I love dudes. So easy.

I’m not taking this line as seriously as every other line I know. I make what I want, when I want. I don’t want to do set seasons. I just want to make capsules when I have good ideas. I’ve learned over time that, since I;m creative, sometimes I just have good creative streaks and that is when I need to come up with a capsule. I don’t want rushed deadlines and craziness anymore. That’s when you just start copying everyone around you because you are forced to have styles by a deadline.

So, I’m hoping to make new capsules every 2-3 months with about 10-15 styles. I want to make rad stuff that relates to girls and guys in all sorts of genres. I dress differently everyday. I have phases all the time where I will be super girly and only wear dresses and then I wear all street wear and look like a tween. Maybe it’s because I’m a Gemini? I don’t know. But, I realized from being in this industry so long, that a girl who dresses up everyday has to go home at some point and she probably just wants to wear some soft pants. Let’s be real here.

I just want to get in this soft clothes game and kill it.

YOU’RE INVOLVED IN A TON OF CREATIVE PROJECTS RIGHT NOW, DOING THINGS LIKE STYLING AND BEING THE PHOTOGRAPHER FOR OTHER PEOPLE AND CREATING CAPSULE COLLECTIONS SPECIFICALLY FOR NYLON. IS IT HARD TO MAKE THE TIME TO WORK ON YOUR OWN LINE WHILE SIMULTANEOUSLY JUGGLING SO MUCH?

Ya, I work too much… Everyone from my friends to my factory managers make fun of me, “Oh ya, she answers all my emails at around 4 a.m. and then 8 a.m. when she wakes up from her daily nap.”

I just get really excited to work on cool projects. I have some collaborations already in the works for RUHI because I think people are getting what I’m doing and are down with it. I have done a ton of different jobs, and I’ve realized I am just not cut out for 9-5 desk jobs. I LOVE project-based work and the constant gratification of rad projects. I also enjoy working with tons of different talented people and just creating. It’s a high that I can’t explain. If you ask me “r u hi” after a shoot, I will for sure say, “I am higher than you will ever be.”

When I see the results of all the hard work on a photoshoot it’s the best feeling. Or when I design something and see a person wearing it on the street, I have to fight the urge to run up and hug them yelling, “OMG you like something I made!”  It always feels exciting and new each time. Even when I was selling shit loads of stuff from Shown To Scale. Each time I see someone wearing something that I created, and loving it… I can’t help but be happy.

So all of these projects are just fulfilling and make me happier and keep me going. But, I definitely need about 7 interns. Anyone? Anyone?

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FROM YOUR FIRST GO AT FASHION, SHOWN TO SCALE, YOU’VE BEEN VERY LEARN-AS-YOU-GO AND HANDS-ON. DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS WHO MIGHT BE IN A SIMILAR POSITION?

Ya, when I started I didn’t know what a pattern even looked like, how to sew or what grading was. I was literally an idiot going into a factory saying, “I want to make clothes please.” With patience and a lot of mistakes along the way — I learned how to use the skills I had in design and work around the skills I didn’t have, which are drawing, patternmaking and sewing. And somehow I’m still making clothing lines!

I would tell the youngins to be open to constructive criticism and be ready to make more mistakes than you thought possible. Use those missteps to learn and not make the same mistakes again. If you can’t handle that, then consider not starting a company. That sounds super negative but… It’s just life.

I always tell my interns or younger friends to try a lot of different things. When you’re young, you really don’t know what you want. Sorry parents but, they don’t. When you try things, you will know what you’re really good at and what comes natural. A lot of times what comes natural to you will end up being something you are passionate about. Don’t force anything on yourself or try to be something you aren’t. It won’t work. Especially as an entrepreneur, you have to be ready to live, eat, breathe and sleep with your work. So you better love the damn thing you are working on.

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TELL US ONE THING WE SHOULD:

SEE: A video of you when you were wasted and trying to dance sexy.

HEAR: The sound of tons of insects buzzing at night in Hawaii while smoking weed and/or drinking wine.

&

KNOW: The grass is only greener on the other side because they water it. So make the means to water your own damn grass. Then compare. I’m sure yours will be better.

x instagram with Silke x

Personal — @showntoscale

RUHI — @RUHIclothing

[last two images photographed by TED EMMONS]

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