Meet one of the faces at the forefront of the Athens fashion scene: Rachel Barnes. From being a personal stylist and organizing fashion shows, to managing one of Athens’ favorite vintage shops, Dynamite, Barnes has quickly made a name for herself here in the Classic City. Though she didn’t major in fashion directly when she first moved to Athens as a UGA student 13 years ago, she didn’t let her degree stifle her aspirations and goals for the eclectic fashion scene right outside our doors.
As an art education and sculpture major at UGA, Barnes started her Athens fashion career 12 years ago as a sales associate for Dynamite and today she celebrates being a manager and buyer for the vintage shop. Around that same time, Barnes became a commercial stylist for photoshoots which eventually grew into a personal styling business, RAB Stylist, that she started about a year and a half ago. In addition, she started to produce local fashion shows in 2007 and started the Athens Fashion Collective with Sanni Baumgärtner, owner of Community, in 2010 where they began to do two fashion shows a year together.
While every young fashionista/o usually has dreams to battle the concrete jungle, for Rachel, her love for Athens and the home that she has created for herself in the growing community outweighed competing for internships and fighting to make her presence known among the masses. Instead, Barnes opted to bring the fashion world to her by doing fashion shows regularly and having photoshoots around town. When planning fashion shows, she makes sure to emphasize making sure the models fit the vibe of the city. This means having models that represent multiple demographics and most importantly, making sure they are having fun. With its growing momentum, she hopes that Athens will soon become known for its fashion scene along with its music scene.
One of the things Barnes is most hopeful for next is an Athens fashion week: “There’s enough of us here, and enough of us interested so it can absolutely happen.”
The biggest influence in how Barnes’s personal style has developed into what it is today is the Athens culture: “When I moved to Athens there wasn’t a huge fashion scene per say, but the people who lived here had such a unique style. Coming from the Midwest, unique style wasn’t really a thing but when I saw that people here would wear whatever they wanted and not really care what other people thought. It was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I can do that now!’”
This opened the door for Barnes to let out her creative side and feed off of other’s creativity. Outside of Athens, she pulls inspiration from fashionistas such as Natalie Joos and anything Gucci.
Barnes’s advice to fashionista/o’s in the community is to “not be afraid to take risks with outfits and hone in on your individual, unique style, because that is going to make you stand out. Alongside that, get involved! There is so many things happening in the Athens fashion scene, and the more enthusiasm you show for what’s already happening, the more likely you will meet the people you need, and to do the things you want to do.”
Follow along with Rachel’s styling adventures on Instagram!