Rok and Stella are both reserved and gracious, unable to artificially pose for the camera. Lies starts to take photos as we sit and talk and they both relax, yet still Rok looks uncomfortable every time he hears the shutters click; he’s much happier when she’s shooting the studio or the collection itself. Despite the emphasis Rok puts on the brand as a joint collaboration between himself and Stella, she shyly declines to appear in the photos. The couple both went to Central Saint Martins but never met during their years as students, only getting to know each other afterwards. Then just as Stella was considering a move back to New York, the two met and got married. They are just as discreet and modest about their relationship as their considerable talents. They smile at each other as they decline to tell the story of how they met. “It’s private…and quite funny,” laughs Rok. In an age of over-exposure, it’s admirable that they keep these memories for only themselves. Even the brand name, ROKH, was a purposeful decision in line with this discretion: “I didn’t want to project my image. When you think of some labels, you think instantly of that designer, that person. I didn’t want that.”
The studio itself is bright, airy and beautiful, filled with natural light and a collection of vintage clothes Rok has collected since his student days for inspiration, alongside piles of i-D and Dazed from the late 90s and early 2000s. Despite living and working in the same space, Rok and Stella have set rules to keep their professional and personal lives separate. They don’t read emails outside of working hours, and they try not to talk about their business plans or collections. “It took a year to find the atmosphere we wanted for the brand, but we’re on the right track,” Stella tells us.
Having just showed at London Fashion Week for the first time, Rok and Stella plan to grow the brand slowly, to keep their business sustainable over time without burning out too soon. As they look to the future, I ask Rok what he would do if he could relive his MA at Central Saint Martins. “If I could go back, I would try out more extreme stuff. After graduation it’s much harder to do whatever you want to do,” he says, and repeats this also as his advice for current students: just to be as extreme as possible.