Rachel Roy’s classic designs have mass appeal. The Cali-born designer produces both a high-end line — sold locally at Betsy Fisher (1224 Connecticut Ave. NW; 202-785-1975) and Lord & Taylor (5255 Western Ave. NW; 202-362-9600) — as well as Rachel Rachel Roy, a more affordable diffusion line. We talked with Roy about her career, her design process and fall trends (hello, leather!).

When did you first realize you were interested in a career in fashion?
When I was about 7, I was shopping with my mom, and I didn’t really like the choices. I asked her why there were no good clothes, and she told me, “If you don’t like it, you should become a buyer and change it.” That became my goal. I kept working all through college in retail and worked my way up. I didn’t have a job in retail I was actually proud of until probably my early 30s.

You first started your label in 2004. How do you keep designs relevant?
I am motivated by curiosity. It’s all learning for me. I’m constantly looking to feel modern and the strongest I can be. I surround myself with people who are really good at what they do in areas I don’t know much about.

There seems to be a lot of leather in your fall 2013 collection.
To me, leather speaks to being modern, sexy and strong. That’s why I like it. The challenge for me is choosing fabrics, prints and colors. That’s the story every collection tells.

What’s it like doing your diffusion line, Rachel Rachel Roy?
A lot of designers don’t like doing a secondary line, but I really like doing mine. There’s a joy in developing that collection that’s very different from the joy in developing the designer collection. The secondary line is necessary, and in some cases harder, but something I’m very proud of.