Established in 2000, Ruth Erotokritou is a brand that has gone from strength to strength and is now available to buy at Zee & Co. Since graduating from Central St. Martin’s College of Art and Design with a first class honours in Knitted Textiles, Ruth has surrounded herself with the most talented individuals. She has designed knitted fabrics for some of the most prestigious names in fashion including Ralph Lauren and Givenchy. Once she had gained enough experience, Ruth took on her own knitted accessory collection which has been stocked in stores like Harrods, Selfridges and Liberty.
Ruth Erotokritou then turned her hand to a ready-to-wear line. All garments are designed and made in-house at her factory without the addition of any ready-made fabrics. Focusing on bold colours, vibrant stripes and contrasting palettes, these knits are made with only the most impeccable quality Italian yarns.
We were lucky enough to have a chat with Ruth herself, to find out what we should expect from her future lines and how she’s become such a successful entrepreneur.
Hi Ruth, we loved your Spring/Summer ’16 collection, it’s been a huge hit with the Zee & Co customers! What were your ideas/concepts behind it?
I believe it was a huge hit as a result of 2 things: Michelle (buyer at Zee & Co) knows exactly what her clientele is looking for, therefore her buying was 100% targeted to her customer. And I believe Zee’s customer loves colour, which is the main focus of the collection. Price point is also very important, pieces are affordable, so if the customer likes it they do not have a huge resistance when they look at the price. Pieces are wearable both day and night and they do not date. They are styles which can be worn season after season.
I think you’ve got our customers spot on! Your Autumn/Winter collection is about to launch, how would you describe your designs?
Michelle has selected trouser sets, frilled tops and polo neck dresses for the new Winter collection. However we have not made these up in wool, so the customer has the option to wear them all year round. Colourways are black/gold and grey/pink and off white, so a slightly darker palette. However you can never go wrong with black or off white. They are all pieces which can be dressed up or down and all tops have the option to be mixed easily with jeans, trousers or skirts.
Where do you look for inspiration?
My main inspiration for the knits comes from Pitti Filati in Florence, which is a trade show twice a year where all the trends for the upcoming season are set. This is an amazing show, specialising only in knitwear, where they decide on colour trends, fibre trends and new knitting techniques. The rest of my inspiration and ideas come from my travels. I try to do at least 3 non work trips a year, which will give me enough ideas and inspiration to design.
How would you describe your personal style? Do your designs reflect your own fashion taste, or do you aim to cater purely for your customers?
My personal style is very feminine and I do love to wear dresses and heels. However, colourwise I find I wear more natural shades, as I work on a daily basis with colour so it helps me to remain separate from the work. After 16 years of designing I find I now design more for my customers’ requirements, however always adding a couple of styles which are absolutely me!
You’ve been in Cyprus over the summer working on your Summer 2017 collection. Does travel influence your designs?
Cyprus is always a huge inspiration for my work. It’s where I grew up and we do have truly amazing beaches and sea. So it remains a huge influence for my Summer collections, especially on the colour palettes evident by the permanent shades of turquoise. Morocco is another favourite travel destination for my Winter Collections, which gives me endless colour inspiration.
Well there’s certainly worse places to go to work! What can we expect from the new collection? Is there a particular theme?
The new collection is an explosion of colour. 3 colour pallettes: Whites, turquoise and a strong fuschia pink and purple range, all created in 3 amazing new knitted fabric techniques. I can truly say that on viewing it all you can think of is summer and holidays! It includes lots of maxi dresses, kaftans, jumpsuits and my best selling short and trouser sets.
Fab, we can’t wait to see it! Do you have a specific research process when you start a new collection?
The primary focus of the collection is the knitted fabric. We do not buy any ready made fabrics, we create all our knits in house in our own factory. So each knit has its own copyright exclusive to Ruth Erotokritou knitwear. So the starting point is always about me getting on my knitting machine and creating the new knits – new techniques, stripe palettes etc. My knitting machine is my canvas, instead of drawing I manually create my story board on the machine. Once the knits are decided on, I then work closely with my pattern cutter and sewer on the new shapes.
What sparked your interest in fashion? Have you always wanted to work in the industry?
I actually studied Knitted Textile design at St. Martins so my training was not fashion based. It was purely about creating knits which could then be applied to Fashion, Accessories or Interiors. I started off by creating an accessory collection including scarves and shawls, which kept it very textile based. This required no garment shapes just a focus on the fabric. The collection was a huge success and was sold in all major UK department stores. However I then felt that I could apply the same concept to garments, where the key focus is the knitted Fabric and using simple shapes and styles. I wanted to create easy wearable garments which stand out in colour and fabric.
When I was 9 years old I asked my mum took me to a local dress maker in Cyprus and I told her the exact dress I wanted her to make me. I had already bought my chosen fabric, so yes fashion was what I wanted to do from a child. Hence I left home when I was 15 and went to Boarding school in the UK to be able to start my design and Fine Art Training.
Who are your favourite designers? Is there anyone who particularly inspires you in the industry?
I love Diane Von Furstenberg for her feminine dresses, Missoni for their amazing colour palettes and Vivienne Westwood for her quirkiness.
Definitely some of our favourites as well! Ahead of launching your own label, you designed for top fashion houses, including Ralph Lauren, Givenchy, and Lacroix. What prompted you to move on and go it alone?
On graduating from St. Martins a Textile agent took me on and sold my knits worldwide to design houses. This gave them the copyright to the knitted fabric which they then applied to garments themselves. Seeing my knits in their stores or on their catwalks, suddenly I realised that this is what I wanted to do. I wanted to keep my gift which is creating fabrics for myself and apply it to my own collection. If they can do it, so can I! It was my eye opener!
That’s a great attitude to have, self belief is one of the most important things if you want to be a success! A lot of fashion students will be graduating soon. As a Central St. Martins College of Art and Design alumni, is there any advice you would give them for breaking the industry?
I teach regularly at St. Martins, which is my true passion. My advice always to my students, is to find their gift, their individuality. If they have been selected to be there, it is because they have an excellence. And this excellence is what they need to cultivate in order to make them stand out when they graduate. Confidence is another very important thing I work with, boosting them to make them understand the talent they have!
You currently cater for women and girls, have you got any future plans to expand to menswear?
I have been asked many times to design a Menswear collection, but I have so far resisted as i feel it’s not a market I feel I have the required experience. However, I have sold knitted fabrics to Menswear design houses, so I know my knits can be applied. I think to start with a collaboration would be better, where I supply the knits and colours and the design input to shapes and styles comes from elsewhere.
Finally, where do you see your label going next? What are your dreams and plans?
I would love to create a swimwear collection and a small interior collection of soft furnishings – pillows, throws etc.