“We belong to a global movement that believes in having an appreciation for quality and craftsmanship, and the beauty of well thought and ethically produced garments meant to be rediscovered season after season.”
When RUS’ founding sister-duo Patricia and Inés Gutiérrez reached out with the news of their spring/summer 2020 collection the other week (their second so far), we were once again wowed by the fact that knitwear can be so craveable. Called “Lightness of being”, it’s everything you’d want from a line of summer knits: light, airy and perfect for layering. Having already given you the basic layout of their business in our Brand to Watch feature, we thought we’d dive a little deeper into their world with this conversation.
So if you’re up to speed with our BTW series, you might already know that this Spanish knitwear label with headquarters in Galicia only just launched its first collection in the fall of 2019. Being a family business, Pati and Inés chose to call the brand RUS after their great-grandfather to underline the deeply personal nature of the project. And even though they come from completely different professional backgrounds — Pati a knitwear designer and creative director; Inés an industrial engineer specialized in logistics — they tell us that choosing to work together felt completely natural as they’ve always gotten along really well, even as children.
The decision to venture into knitwear was also a given for the girls: “Knitwear is Pati’s big passion. It’s a product both hugely technical and creative, resulting in endless possibilities. It’s an ongoing research process, starting from a single thread there are so many factors that can alter the outcome; from the yarn selection and knit construction to the washing and finishing of the actual garment. We believe that the craftsmanship required to produce knitwear make it by definition a luxury product.
From the beginning we knew we should start from our own experience and expertise and slowly explore new possibilities. So for the foreseeable future, knitwear is our focus, which we’d like to complement with small seasonal collaborations with other brands, such as the current one with our friends at Maar Hats [another small-scale brand to watch!].”
With everything going on in the world, this is definitely the time to shine light on smaller fashion businesses that are extra vulnerable to reduced production capacities and lower-than-usual consumption. Now, we’re obviously not saying that you should use your stay-at-home-time to splurge, but while you’re doing that long overdue wardrobe clean-out (deciding what to keep, sell, donate and recycle) you may feel the need to restock by placing a couple of summer knits in your online shopping cart. However, even though we’re sure they’d love a peak in sales, Pati and Inés agree that choosing well is always key:
“Our leitmotif is ‘selecting rather than accumulating’. We belong to a global movement that believes in having an appreciation for quality and craftsmanship, and the beauty of well thought and ethically produced garments meant to be rediscovered season after season. Our aim is to work towards encouraging considered purchases rather than mindless consumption, and we consider sustainable practices to be a commitment towards our society and planet.”
Part of their philosophy being to encourage responsible consumption, the RUS sisters aim to offer products that are desirable and made with considered materials and techniques that cause as little damage as possible along the way. Stressing the need to slow down our collective consumption pace (again, quarantine life might help with that), they say it’s important to create a product that their customer values and relates to, and that can be enjoyed for a long period of time.
And as we’ve already touched upon, ethically is a key component for the duo too: “We’ve got a personal and trusting relationship with the Portuguese factory that carefully crafts our knits and shares our ethical work philosophy, making it possible to ensure that the people producing RUS knits enjoy good working conditions; also keeping the production local and close to home.”
One of the most important things when considering sustainability is the material selection. Can you tell us more about the materials you work with and how you source them?
We select all of our yarns from high quality Italian spinners, trying to reduce our carbon footprint and ensuring our yarns follow the highest European guidelines and standards of certification. Over the last seasons, there has been a big shift towards sustainability in textiles, which is also happening with knitwear of course, so the current offer is getting much bigger and we’re starting to feel like we no longer need to sacrifice innovation and quality for a better future.
What has the process of creating the new SS20 collection been like?
There are factors that are always a huge influence for RUS, such as the different creative expressions simplicity, clean lines, generous shapes inspired by Asian culture, architecture and unique color schemes. For the SS20 collection we started with an abstract concept, lightness, keeping our minds open when we visited Pitti Filati to select the yarns and get inspired by the new techniques that would be the base for all our pieces.
Back in our studio, Pati works on the final yarn selection and shaping the concept and building the color and initial range — considering what kind of stitches we’d like to use and volumes we’d like to achieve. However, it isn’t really until we’re in the factory and work on the different test swatches with our technicians that we think in actual garments.
For this second edition we were deeply inspired by two female artists, Rachel Whiteread and Roni Horn, both of them working with translucency and ambiguity. Their monumental shapes are softened by color and the effect of light through their materials of choice, making them vulnerable and poetic. We wanted to translate that feeling of lightness, softness and porosity to our knits, layering different textures and materials and still continuing to work on our concept of creating a dressing ritual for the non-conformist muses of now.
One of the most special and challenging yarns this season is a unique washi paper blend, which we decided to use in a textured pleat-like knit. The actual garments take hours to knit, and the thread breaks easily if you try to speed up the process, which has made the production a real struggle to the point where we even considered if it was a wise choice and caused our supplier a mental breakdown… But the result is so special — a real expression of what slow fashion means.
What would you consider to be a perfect spring look or wardrobe?
For us, a perfect spring wardrobe is one where you can layer different pieces, adding and subtracting as the atmospheric conditions change. Playing with color, texture and comfort at the core, which convey an emotional message. We believe that our choices when getting dressed reflect and reinforce the confidence in ourselves, preparing us to face the outside world.
With RUS, we wanted to prove that knits can be versatile and wearable all year long — you can even build your whole wardrobe around them.
Finally: What’s on your horizon?
For the moment we’d like to enjoy this new experience, learn as much as we can and grow in an organic and intelligent way. There’s no rush.
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