For professionals across many industries, the coronavirus seeped into daily life and changed the course of standard work life through lockdown restrictions and social distancing mandates. Commutes to the office turned into a short walk into the living room, large conferences evolved into remote Zoom meetings, and business casual was replaced largely by sweatpants and loungewear. For those working in fashion, however, adapting wasn’t quite as simple as many of its ventures necessitate having many people around — too many to safely prevent the spread of covid-19 — leaving many industry vets in a year-plus long limbo. Though life slowed down all around him, NYC-based creative Rocco Valentine was able to find the perfect balance of both hustling hard and kicking his feet up, emerging back into the waking world with a freshly launched swimwear line under his belt and a refreshed determination to match.
While Inez Valentine, Valentine’s sustainable swim line made with longtime friend Bianca Ubeda, had been in the works for quite some time, the dismal arrival of covid-19 threw a massively unexpected wrench in the duo’s rollout plan for the brand.
“My partner and I had been working on this brand a bit before the pandemic started, and our launch date was planned for July 2020,” said Valentine. “We put so much energy and time into building this brand that we had to just say “f*** it” and launched during the pandemic, we didn’t want to put it off.”
And that they did. Making its debut as scheduled, Inez Valentine caught massive buzz for its sustainable and chic approach to swimwear, a welcome fresh perspective compared to the oft-lewd and disposable fast fashion swim pieces available in present day. Inez Valentine’s has continued to garner attention as the pandemic progressed thanks to its quality female-run manufacturing and commitment to making the world a better place.
“I think during such a tragic time, launching a brand gave people something positive to pay attention to,” reflected Valentine. “We prioritize giving back to the community, whether it’s a portion of our sales going back to a like-minded cause, or interviewing someone’s unique story and shining a positive light on inspiring people. We’re more than just a swim brand, we’re a community.”
On a personal level, the lull created by coronavirus gave Valentine some much-needed time to reflect and relax after working at full-throttle for nearly a decade in the fashion industry. As the world begins to open up once more and New York City feels like the bustling metropolis it is, Valentine is ready to hit the ground running once more — both in styling and the development of his personal projects.
“Being back on set and working almost every day is extremely challenging and I’m still trying to figure out how to juggle both my career and brand at once,” said Valentine, though he’s most certainly up to the task. “I do have a few exciting projects coming up, but they are hush hush for now! I will say, every project I work on is always inspired by the muses in my life and the positive impact it can leave on my community.”
With the return of normalcy seemingly right on the horizon, it’s safe to say we’ll be seeing plenty from a recharged Valentine and his post-pandemic drive in no time.