What Ever Happened to Rachel Roy? Inside the Designer’s Ongoing Fight for Independence & Ethics

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Rachel Roy was living the most stylish version of the American Dream in the 2000s. She had worked her way up to become one of the most popular contemporary designers in the nation.

Rachel Roy and her daughter Ava Dash attend the premiere of Warner Bros Pictures' "The Way Back"Rachel Roy and her daughter Ava Dash attend the premiere of Warner Bros Pictures’ “The Way Back” at Regal LA Live on March 1, 2020, in Los Angeles, California (Credit: DFree / Shutterstock)

Her impressive clientele ranged from style icons like Diane Kruger and Kate Hudson to powerful women such as Oprah and Michelle Obama.

Roy’s place in the American fashion industry seemed to be cemented in greatness, but things have calmed down for her in recent years.

Wondering what happened to Rachel Roy? Read on to learn what her ongoing fight for creative independence and ethical practices meant for her business.

Rachel Roy’s Rise to Fame

Born and raised in California to Dutch and Bengali parents, Rachel Roy’s story is the classic tale of a second-generation immigrant success story. In fact, the designer attributes her ambition and determined work ethic to her Bengali father.

Roy moved to New York as a young adult to launch her career in fashion. She dreamed of working as a stylist but started out working retail jobs at Neiman Marcus and BCBG.

Rachel Roy and Damon Dash met while working together at Rocawear, married in 2005, and divorced in 2009Rachel Roy and Damon Dash met while working together at Rocawear, married in 2005, and divorced in 2009 (Credit: Everett Collection / Shutterstock)

Eventually, she landed an internship at Jay-Z’s streetwear label Rocawear, where she went on to become the creative director for the women’s and children’s department.

Her role at Rocawear would change her life. It was where she learned the foundations to build her own business, and also where she met her future husband Damon Dash, the label’s co-founder. The young talented designer would soon become a rising star within the American fashion industry.

Branching Out on Her Own

Roy launched her eponymous designer label, Rachel Roy, after 7 years at Rocawear. The project was years in the making.

She used her time at Rocawear to learn the ins and outs of running a fashion label and put most of her savings towards launching her own business and creating samples.

Her solo career was off to a successful start after her designs were picked up by a buyer from Bergdorf Goodman. But it wasn’t all smooth sailing.

Fashion designer Rachel Roy and her daughters Tallulah Ruth Dash and Ava DashFashion designer Rachel Roy and her daughters Tallulah Ruth Dash and Ava Dash attend the premiere of “Pete’s Dragon” at the El Capitan Theatre on August 8, 2016, in Hollywood, California (Credit: Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock)

Rachel would soon learn the difficulties of working with partners who didn’t share her vision or morals – a battle that she would deal with for the next decade.

Still, the Rachel Roy line was met with success for the better half of a decade. It was sold in the nation’s most prestigious luxury department stores, including Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s, and Saks Fifth Avenue.

Roy dressed some of America’s most stylish women and worked on collaborations with pop star Estelle and supermodel Jessica Stam in the process.

Actress Brittany Snow flaunts her legs in a sexy Rachel Roy x RVN ensemble paired with a small black Edie Parker clutch and black sandals Actress Brittany Snow flaunts her legs in a sexy Rachel Roy x RVN ensemble paired with a small black Edie Parker clutch and black sandals at the 2015 CFDA Awards at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on June 1, 2015, in New York City (Credit: ACE / INFphoto)

She also became an award-winning designer, after receiving the Bollywood Industry Award in 2006, the ACE Award in 2010, and being inducted into the CFDA in 2007.

The designer partnered with the Jones Group in 2007, which led to the creation of the diffusion line RACHEL Rachel Roy.

Chrissy Teigen flaunts her legs in an orange Rachel Roy ensemble styled with gold metallic Rodo clutch and Jennifer Fisher jewelryChrissy Teigen flaunts her legs in an orange Rachel Roy ensemble styled with gold metallic Rodo clutch and Jennifer Fisher jewelry at the 2014 CFDA fashion awards at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center on June 2, 2014, in New York City (Credit: Dara Kushner / INFphoto)

The affordable line was to be designed exclusively for Macy’s, which the designer was happy to create.

She wanted to honor her humble upbringing and make her designs accessible to a wider audience. The line has enjoyed consistent success since its inception.

The End of an Era?

The Rachel Roy designer line was temporarily shut down in 2014.

A switch in ownership led to complex legal battles that would last for years. The Jones Group was purchased by Sycamore Partners in 2013, who shut the line down after deciding that the brand “didn’t fit in with their strategic direction.”

Actress Katie Lowes looked gorgeous in a printed Rachel Roy dress paired with Sole Society shoes, Melinda Maria earrings, and a Paula Cademartori bag Actress Katie Lowes looked gorgeous in a printed Rachel Roy dress paired with Sole Society shoes, Melinda Maria earrings, and a Paula Cademartori bag at Children’s Defense Fund – California Hosts 23rd Annual Beat The Odds Awards at the Beverly Hills Hotel on December 5, 2013, in Beverly Hills, California (Credit: Sara De Boer / Startraksphoto)

Determined to take back control of her company, Roy fought for full ownership of her brand.

Her business partners had hoped to sell her trademarks and liquidate her design assets, but a strategic line in her contract granted her 100% creative control of the company.

Roy became the owner of her company by the end of her proceedings, though the Jones Group was permitted to continue RACHEL Rachel Roy’s contract with Macy’s.

Star-Studded Romances

Rachel Roy’s spot in the limelight is mostly due to her design career, but she’s also received a fair amount of coverage from her high-profile relationships. The designer married Damon Dash in 2004.

The couple had two daughters before their 2009 divorce. Craving a calmer life for her daughters, Roy moved back to California with the girls following the divorce.

Many have speculated that Roy was also in an affair with fellow Rocawear founder and rap mogul Jay-Z. It’s believed that Roy was the cause of the infamous elevator fight between Solange Knowles and Jay-Z at the 2014 Met Gala.

Fashion designer Rachel Roy is rumored to have had an affair with Beyonce's husband Jay-ZFashion designer Rachel Roy is rumored to have had an affair with Beyonce’s husband Jay-Z (Credit: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock / Collin Xavier / ABACA / INSTARimages)

Roy added fuel to the fire after posting an Instagram post with the caption “good hair don’t care” after the release of Beyonce’s revealing Lemonade album in 2016.

Many fans believed it was a nod to the lyric “Becky with the good hair” from the pop star’s infidelity anthem “Sorry.” Roy later denied that she was “Becky” in an official statement to People magazine, saying that the caption was meant to be “fun and lighthearted.”

He apologized to his wife on the title track of his thirteenth solo album 4:44, saying, “I apologize often womanize / Took for my child to be born / See through a woman’s eyes.”

He also addressed her infamous “Becky with the good hair” lyric on another song, “Family Feud”: “Yeah, I’ll f*ck up a good thing if you let me / Let me alone, Becky.”

The rumor was never confirmed, and speculations about other possible “Beckys” quickly emerged.

Becoming Fashion’s Voice for Child Labor Standards

Advocating for ethical manufacturing has become one of Roy’s biggest passions over the years. She works as an advisor to the World Of Children charity and was named a UN Women Champion For Innovation in 2018 for her work in gender equality.

She’s always been vocal about standing up against child-free labor within the fashion industry, even when her business partners would try to sweep it under the rug.

Actress Amber Riley in a bird print a Rachel Roy mesh-back dress styled with black sandalsActress Amber Riley in a bird print a Rachel Roy mesh-back dress styled with black sandals attends Black Girls Rock! 2013 at New Jersey Performing Arts Center on October 26, 2013, in Newark, New Jersey (Credit: Marcus Owen / Startraksphoto)

Roy famously worked with Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi to raise awareness about ethics in the fashion industry during the late 2010s.

The Future of Rachel Roy

Roy has taken a more mindful approach to her business since its dissolution. She’s made motherhood her priority since moving back to California, working remotely on her own terms.

Her diffusion line is still available at Macy’s, Amazon, and The Bay in Canada. She also designs high-end jewelry with a spiritual take, using meaningful birthstones that can be used for balancing chakras.

Stacy Keibler and Rachel Roy attend the Costume Institute Gala for the "PUNK: Chaos to Couture" exhibitionStacy Keibler and Rachel Roy attend the Costume Institute Gala for the “PUNK: Chaos to Couture” exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 6, 2013, in New York City (Credit: Bill Davila / Startraksphoto)

Roy has also added authorship to her list of accomplishments. She released the book Design Your Life in 2015 and co-wrote the young adult book 96 Words For Love with her daughter Ava in 2019.

Roy wants to relaunch her designer line at some point, but this time around she wants to do it right. The new and improved version will be created in a sustainable manner with no child labor or animal cruelty.

Pregnant Jenna Dewan in a Rachel Roy dress and Irene Neuwirth jewelry at the 2013 Academy AwardsPregnant Jenna Dewan in a black Rachel Roy lace dress and Irene Neuwirth jewelry at the 2013 Academy Awards held at the Dolby Theatre on February 24, 2013, in Hollywood (Credit: Sol Jones / INFphoto)

Will it be received with the same level of success as the original Rachel Roy? Only time will tell.

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