Ritual brings upscale, dark, and experimental fashion to Capitol Hill

If you’ve ever wandered around Pike and Broadway on Capitol Hill, you’ve probably passed Ritual – a retail store with distinctive all-black ensembles that can be seen in the large storefront.

This quirky lifestyle boutique was co-founded in 2018 by Sarah Williams and William Rheinhardt, two fashion retail veterans who quit corporate jobs to create a space for dark, experimental fashion that Williams calls “Executive Gothic.”

From her first job in a dry cleaner at 16 to 15 years at clothing giant H&M, Williams has always been drawn to the clothing and textile industries. After working her way up from sales to display & visual at H&M, Williams finally met Rheinhardt 11 years ago while working at H&M in downtown Portland.

“We were a team for this company for a long time, and then we got a little tired of making money for other people and we got essentially tired of making money for rich white Swedish men,” said Williams. “What corporate fast fashion is is you spend all your time in malls and it feels very separate […] I felt like my professional career should be more than that. “

Like most great things, the idea of ​​ritual was born in a bar, and Williams and Rheinhardt dropped everything to self-fund a space for gender-neutral clothing, accessories, and occult items like crystals and fortune-telling tools.

“The curation of the store is essentially just my style [and] my life, “said Williams.” I want everyone to look like a Final Fantasy character because that’s how I’d like my world to be. “

Williams further noted that she and Rheinhardt also love and take a lot of inspiration from “cheese horror films”, such as Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” from the 90s, as well as various photographers such as Ellen von Unwerth, who cover the fetish aspects of Harnesses and latex and turned it into sophisticated fashion.

Like most small businesses, Ritual has had to adapt to new changes caused by the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to being more familiar with the digital market and creating a website, Williams has also noticed the importance and encouragement from Ritual’s customers, who have continuously and deliberately supported the shop during this time.

“We built relationships with our community so we wanted to leave H&M and do this to make the landscape here with fashion in a local way,” said Williams.

From size XS to 5X, Ritual has clothing for all shapes, genders and sizes, made by local and international designers, creating a safe space for customers to be creative about how they want to express themselves. Especially considering Ritual’s large trans- and non-binary customer base.

“It’s really important that we have a place where people can shop, where they don’t have to hide in the men’s department or stealthily in the women’s department,” said Williams. “We legitimately don’t care what you wear.”

In addition to continuing to collaborate and collaborate with local designers like Raqschala Weston, Williams also noted that Ritual is interested in creating its own gender-neutral line that “fits anyone 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 clothing and it doesn’t make sense in this day and age, ”Williams said. “There are no limits and clothing has no gender.”

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