RIB & RHEIN: A Unique Fashion Philosophy

Interview & Review



 Erin & Thomas Ribeiro at a Newport event

RIB & RHEIN Boutique, tucked discreetly away on Newport's William Street, just off Bellevue Avenue, is less a boutique than a philosophy of life. The two stylish owners, Erin and Thomas Ribeiro, are bringing a new éclat to the traditional Newport fashion scene, gently and fashionably coaxing it into the new century.



"We work with the traditional sense of fashion and style, that already exists in Newport, adding a little contemporary twist to transform an outfit.The most important aspect is the silhouette and the detail because most people don't understand that regardless of body type, good clothes should always fit your shape. " says Thomas Ribeiro.



The discreet RIB & RHEIN Boutique

And within the boutique, there are traditional looking men's tweed jackets with the obligatory leather elbow patches – but the mannequin's head is covered in plaid fabric, and the cut just a bit, well …..different, sleeker and sharper.



The boutique itself is an environment, with objets d'art and whimsical, sometimes historic table displays. Where else would you find a crocodile embossed, limited edition signed copy by famed photographer Jerry Schatzberg featuring classic images of Yves Saint Laurent's 1962 first collection for Christian Dior? The book sits below a photo portrait of the young, recently married Jack and Jacqueline Kennedy.


The couple's passion for fashion is evident when they talk about the clothing lines they find, select, and offer. Says Erin Ribeiro, "Our wonderful women's blazers are by Franklin & Gower. We discovered them in Los Angeles, and brought them here. Our classic/tailored men's blazers are from D.S. Dundee, of London."



An arresting window display

Just as Ralph Lauren created an amalgam of style that pervades all aspects of his clothing, home décor and lifestyle, RIB & RHEIN is creating a signature style – anglo-indo-waspy luxury– that the firm will soon market throughout the world. Their upcoming website will export their unique items and brand globally.



Meanwhile, busy in Newport, Thomas and Erin say, "Our clientele often tell us they always look and feel so good in what they find here." And isn't that the essence of fashion, as well as its function?


Newport Seen interviewed the Ribeiros in their boutique:


 NS: How and where did you two meet?

R&R: We were introduced by a mutual friend who strangely enough is no longer a friend. We met in the Big Apple.


NS: What are your backgrounds in fashion? in retailing?

: We have both worn multiple hats in London & New York. Erin has a Hedge Fund/Finance background. My background is in retail & hospitality. Prior to opening RIB & RHEIN I was the director of wholesale for GANT North America.At the same time we were also partners in a private membership club on NYC's Upper East Side.


Unusual, fashionable goods on display


NS: How did you decide on a Newport location for RIB & RHEIN?

R&R: Newport is undergoing a tremendous resurgence. We spent years of market research and location hunting.We looked at Greenwich, Conn. and Larchmont, New York.They were still too close to New York City for the first boutique. Erin is a Salve Regina graduate and her family home is in Narragansett. So during one blissful summer, we got married, fell in love with Newport and opened RIB & RHEIN. The prestigious nature of this charming town appealed to our sensibilities. Business in Newport has exceeded our expectations from day one.


NS: Can you describe your fashion philosophy?

R&R: anglo-indo waspy luxury. One must learn the rules in order to bend them ever so slightly. Simple, classic elegance is easy and timeless.Fabulous, chic fashion should never be difficult to put together. Never, ever try too hard. We mix a structured preppy base with global and contemporary accents.


Thomas describes the philosophy of the shop

NS: In your fashion show, you presented a belly dancer, and some Middle Eastern styles? What was your message?

R&R: Again it's anglo-indo waspy luxury. For the 2009 show we created a French/Arabic bohemian, jet set chic look. Tunics, kaftans and sarongs have been around for a very long time. Way before they became basics in any socialite's wardrobe. Once again it's the effortless blend of basics with glamorous exotic accents.


NS:. How do you combine marriage and a business partnership?


R&R: Great question. We have both been on opposite work schedules in Manhattan for many, many years. We've always wanted to work together because it's an intuitive, organic trust and approach. It comes so naturally to us that I don't know how it's actually done. If we did, it would be for sale in a bottle!. So I guess it's actually quite simple. L.O.V.E!


NS: How do you view the retail clothing community in Newport?

R&R: There was an opportunity; a gap in the marketplace for something a "little different" catering to the well traveled, cosmopolitan consumer. From the get go we wanted to compliment the choices already available in town.


Thomas shows a D.S. Dundee Blazer

NS: Can you both tell me your definition of "style"?


R&R: Style should never be precious, or elevated to an art form.The temptation to do so must be resisted. Even at it's most glamorous, true style is understated because it actually has nothing to do with just the clothing. It is a commitment,an attitude and a way of life. The choice of attire is simply an embellishment to how one wishes to present themselves to the world.


NS: Are there other retail establishments of yours? Are any planned?


R&R: Quite a few planned, the next location is in St Barths. RIB & RHEIN's online boutique should be complete and ready to launch Spring/Summer 2012. It's taking a while but definitely worth the wait. The website is breathtakingly stunning. Once again we want to use our website medium a little differently than the norm.


NS: Do you find Ralph Lauren's business model, and "branding" a helpful template for RIB & RHEIN?


Talking shop, Thomas and Erin Ribeiro


R&R: The undisputed unique world Ralph has created is a fascinating example of detail, precision and 40 years or so of consistently staying on point with his message, absolutely remarkable . However the business model that works for Ralph, works for Ralph. There can only be one Ralph Lauren story, therefore you must create your own path. We find Ralph's model as interesting as Louis Vuitton, Hermes, J. Crew, Nike or Coca-Cola. We have come up with the perfect model for us.






RIB & RHEIN is located at 86 William Street, Newport, has a Facebook page, or call (401) 619-5767 for information about the upcoming website.



Gentlemen's fashion

Lifestyle vignette

Erin and Thomas greet a customer

A Picasso poster augments the fashion

Jewelry table

Thomas sees to the display areas

A painting and overcoats, all part of the fashion philosophy

Thomas with the unusual mannequin

Vintage images of YSL's first 1962 collection for Dior, by Jerry


Erin in the Boutique

Tres chic at RIB & RHEIN













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