The Danes family is back in Soho and enjoying the commotion after their eight years of quiet Tribeca. Twenty-two years ago for Spring 1994, Robert and Rachel Danes showed their first runway collection at New York Fashion Week. The two founded their DANES label in 1990, working out of a basement on Henry Street in Chinatown. After a few years of the midtown shows, and a tiny 7th Avenue showroom, the Danes moved back downtown and focused on more personal events at their Broome and Wooster Street loft, the Elizabeth Street Sculpture Garden, and trunk shows in the major luxury stores across the country.
September 2001, the duo opened a public showroom beside their design studio to exhibit the DANES full collection range: from evening to day wear and bridal. Post 9/11, Robert and Rachel refocused their energy on a few essentials: the clothes, especially high end limited edition gowns, and starting a family.
Robert’s grandmother taught him how to sew as a teenager in San Antonio, Texas. He taught himself pattern making while studying architecture and history at Yale. Shortly thereafter, he moved to Brooklyn and set up shop subletting from the sculptor Ursula von Rydingsvard in the then wild frontier of Williamsburg. At about the same time, Rachel transferred from college in Maryland to night school at FIT. She worked her way through school in a series of industry jobs by day from the original 17th Street Barneys, then at a European showroom, and finally as a stylist for photo shoots. Before he joined Rachel, Robert’s first solo collections were designed for men, cutting leather and wool jackets inlaid with vintage jacquards at the cuffs and soft, iridescent cotton shirts. His look continues to be an urban romantic James Dean meets southern rocker. From her many years living in Alphabet City in the late 80’s and the Lower East Side, Rachel’s style favorites incorporate luxurious ease with an edge; currently feeling like a tomboy in lipstick.
The two met at a rooftop party on 23rd Street and dated for nine months before founding their womens’ wear collection. The first collection label was a large white grosgrain “Robert Danes” label. Newly married and realizing how out of place the old label was in their new joint collection, they opted for a minimal chocolate leather label, with their last name DANES embossed upon it.
In the beginning, Robert was the official Designer with the primary responsibilities of production, draping and pattern making. Rachel’s title was President of the firm in charge of the finances, marketing and merchandising. Behind the scenes however, Robert and Rachel have always collaborated on every garment: both new designs and production. The beauty of their designs comes from the synthesis of Robert’s fascination for and expertise in pattern making, draping and construction, and Rachel’s razor sharp eye for color, fabric, fit, proportion and silhouette. We hope you stay tuned to our new collections and exciting changes in 2017. Let us know what you think.
The Danes.... chocolate leather label collection since 1990