This week for our designer spotlight we’re taking a peek into the inspiration behind Ruth Erotokritou’s summer knitwear collection.
Having designed knitted garments for a number of revered fashion houses such as Ralph Lauren, Givenchy and Lacroix, Ruth has gone on to establish her own brand. In 2003 she launched her ready-to-wear women’s collection. Since then, Ruth has continued to develop a reputation for her bright, feminine designs and penchant for fine Italian yarns.
After a long day of slaving away to the noise of the factory in which all her exclusive designs come to life, Ruth takes a timeout to answer our questions:
What has inspired your summer knitwear collection?
“The Summer 2017 Collection is inspired by a place in Cyprus called the White Rocks in Governor’s Beach. It is miles and miles of rocks covered in the white chalk right next to the sea. It is an incredible landscape. I used to go here in my teen every weekend with friends to watch the most amazing sunsets and sunrise. It is where we shot the SS17 Catalogue and a very special place to myself.”
What is your favourite piece from the collection and why?
“My Personal favourite of the SS17 Collection are the White & Pink Short sets. Given that every year I spend 3 Months in Cyprus, from May – July, designing the new Summer Collection and the current weather is 35C, we live in shorts and tank tops. They are just easy to wear during the day with flats and then you can dress them up with heals in the evening.”
What is the importance of the materials you use for the designs?
“The Signature of the Collection has always been the stripes and the mixing of 5 or 6 yarns together in each garment. All yarns are Italian, and every season I have 3 Articles which we dip dye and create exclusively for Ruth Erotokritou Knitwear. Lurex, which most refer to as the sparkly yarn, is always used in the knits, and as this can be quite rough on the skin, so we mix it with cotton or viscose to add softness. The feel of the Knits is of prime importance as is the quality, which is why I only use Italian yarns.”
What motivates you as a designer?
“Given that I have had my own business since I was 22, I think what motivates me is the love and passion I have for creating Knits. I do not draw using pen and paper, I draw on my knitting machine, which is my canvas. I have an industrial knitting machine wherever I work: Hong Kong, London and Cyprus. Every new design starts by me first creating the fabrics by hand and then designing the garment shapes. It is a passion and gift which will never fade out and this is what keeps me going.”
Which designers inspire and influence you?
“I love colour, so original designers which inspired me from when I was studying at St. Martins were Missoni, Sonya Rykiel and Diane von Furstenberg. These are all designers who created a signature, you can always spot a Diane Wrap Dress, a Stripe Rykiel Jumper and a Missoni Dress. Which is what I set out to do, to create a signature where by one can spot and recognise a Ruth Erotokritou Knit.”
What does fashion mean to you?
“Fashion for me is about wearing clothes that are comfy yet feminine. As a woman, you tend to have so many pieces in your wardrobe that you wear once a year, which is something I wanted to avoid with my collection. I wanted to create garments that people can wear over and over again and which never date. Pieces that they can mix and match with wovens, with jeans or a pair of classic white trousers, that they can dress up or down.”
How did your time training at Central St.Martins College of Art and Design influence you as a designer?
“St. Martins helped me to find my individuality, my signature, which makes what I design different to the rest of the industry. It pushed me beyond my safe boundaries, to really experiment with the process of knitting and colour. Given that you are surrounded by so much talent, I think this inspires you to push even further. It taught me self discipline and time management, which certainly has helped me in my own business.”
You teach at Central St. Martins on the BA Textile Design Course; what sage words of advice do you give to aspiring designers?
“Teaching is a passion for me. Most of my students are young, in their early 20’s, so what they need is the self confidence. The talent they have, but the confidence in their work they need to develop. I try to meet them on their level, engage with them in a way that they understand and then find their individuality and push them to develop this. I am amazed sometimes by the talent, and though I am paid to push them creatively, I also try to show them a commercial view which will help prepare them for when they leave St. Martins and go out into the real world. I am very privileged to teach at this amazing Institution.”