Trendsetter, Rafe

Jennifer Cooper. E!

We take our accessories very seriously, so when we had the opportunity to get to know the main man behind popular line RAFE New York, we jumped at the chance.

Designer and creative director Rafe Totengco opened up his impressive work space for us to see, and also shared some inspiring words of wisdom for fashionistas everywhere.

Here's what we learned: 

How did you get started in your career?
My curiosity for the world abroad and passion for fashion design led me to New York City, where I attended the Fashion Institute of Technology. That experience led me to start designing my own line. I have been designing accessories since 1997, but re-launched my namesake collection in 2011 after I was appointed Creative Director of Handbags at The Jones Group in 2010.

What is a typical day like for you?
I have an erratic schedule because I travel a lot for work, but when I'm home I always start the day by scrolling through Instagram, breakfast while watching the news, then it's e-mail and NY Times before I head to the office for design meetings all day. Depending on what's going on, I try to hit the gym or meet up with friends for a casual dinner.

Describe your work environment.
I'm fortunate that I love my job and adore the people I work with so coming to the office is fun. I look forward to Mondays!

Trendsetter, Rafe

Jennifer Cooper, E!

Tell us about your office décor or creative inspiration.
80% of my office is a tack board where I pin inspiration tears. On my desk are photos of my family and on my shelves are design books that I constantly refer to when I'm designing a collection.

Describe your office style. What do you typically wear to work?
I sort of have a uniform. A printed shirt, a blazer, jeans or trousers and casual loafers or lace-ups.

Where do you shop for work clothes?
I shop very randomly and usually when I travel. Florence, Bologna, Paris and Hong Kong always yield some pieces I can't resist.

What are your favorite brands of accessories?
I love Philip Crangi, Miansai's and Hermes leather wristbands. I wear bags of my own design.

My favorite thing in my office/on my desk is: I love having framed photos of my family on my desk.

The best part of my job is...The creative process of conceptualizing and designing the collection and seeing my sketches come to life. The start of a new season is always exciting.

Trendsetter, Rafe

Jennifer Cooper. E!

I never leave home without…my iPhone.

What is your guilty pleasure?
Instagram! I'm obsessed!

What is the best piece of advice you've ever received?
If you can make someone happy because of your design then you're doing something right and you need to keep doing it!

Trendsetter, Rafe

Jennifer Cooper. E!

What are your travel must-haves?
My Samsung Galaxy S4 and my Leica camera. I sketch wherever I am especially at airport lounges.

What are your beauty must-haves?
Sleep and a good moisturizer from Aesop.

What is your go-to lunch? Favorite snack? Morning beverage?
A healthy salad, pistachio nuts, cappuccino.

My favorite gadgets for work and play: Samsung Galaxy S4, Leica camera, iPhone 5s.

If I wasn't doing this job, I would be...I've always been interested in other forms of creative expressions. I can see myself getting involved in interior design. Or a teacher! I love mentoring; sharing my experiences and knowledge with a new generation of designers.

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