If you’ve ever walked near Pike and Broadway in Capitol Hill, you’ve probably been there Ritual – a brick and mortar store with striking all-black sets displayed in the large window.
This quirky lifestyle boutique was co-founded in 2018 by Sarah Williams and William Rheinhardt, two fashion retail veterans who quit their corporate jobs to create space for the dark, experimental fashion that Williams calls “Executive goth”.
From her first job in a dry cleaners at the age of 16 to her job for clothing giant H&M for 15 years, Williams has always been drawn to the clothing and textiles industry. After rising through the ranks of display and display sales at H&M, Williams finally met Rheinhardt 11 years ago while working at H&M in downtown Portland.
“We’ve been a team for a long time for this business, then we got a little tired of making money for other people, and we got tired specifically of making money for rich white Swedes, basically “Williams said. “What corporate fast fashion is is you spend all your time in malls, and you feel very disconnected. […] I felt like there should be more to my professional career than that. “
Like most great things, the idea for Ritual originated in a bar, and Williams and Rheinhardt gave it all up to self-fund a space for gender-neutral clothing, accessories, and occult items such as crystals and divination tools. .
“Store conservation is basically my style [and] my life, “Williams said.” I want everyone to look like a character in Final Fantasy because that’s how I would like my world to be. “
Williams further noted that she and Rheinhardt also liked and drew a lot of inspiration from “cheesy horror movies” like ’90s Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”, as well as various photographers like Ellen von Unwerth, who raised fetishistic aspects of harness and latex and turned it into a sophisticated fashion.
Like most small businesses, Ritual has had to adapt to the new changes caused by the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to learning about the digital marketplace and building a website, Williams also noted the importance and encouragement from Ritual’s customers, who have continuously and consciously supported the store throughout this time.
“We built relationships with our community, which is why we wanted to leave H&M and do it so that we could affect the landscape here locally with fashion,” said Williams.
From size XS to 5X, Ritual offers clothing for all shapes, genres and sizes made by local and international designers, creating a safe space for customers to be creative with how they choose to dress. Express. Especially given Ritual’s large trans and non-binary customer base.
“It’s really important that we have a space where people can shop where they don’t feel like they have to hide in the men’s section or surreptitiously by the women’s section,” said Williams. “We don’t legitimately care what you wear. ”
In addition to continuing to collaborate and work with local designers like Raqschala Weston, Williams also noted that Ritual was looking to create his own gender-neutral line that would suit “any human who wants to wear it.”
“I’m very passionate about not dividing fashion or art between the sexes. It’s a very old way of looking at clothes, and it doesn’t even make sense in modern times,” he said. Williams said. “There are no borders and clothes have no gender.”