Since 2015 Melbourne’s Sister Studios has been offering women membership into a family of like-minded individuals who believe in affordable, ethical fashion. In the age of fast-fashion and large conglomerates, it offers consumers two rare luxuries: authenticity and a sense of community.
Cut, fit and proportion are always front of mind for designer-founders Emma Cutri and Alice McIntosh, who draw on Italian linen, New Zealand wool, vintage fabrics and deadstock materials, which they hunt down in Melbourne’s outer suburbs. Designed and made in Brunswick, the autumn/winter 2018 Déjà Vu collection, which is filtering into stores this week, is one of the label’s finest yet.
After meeting at “the disco” Cutri and McIntosh’s path to fashion wasn’t paved like most. It began by designing outfits for a close group of friends, and then their little operation became a talking point across Melbourne.
Four years on, and with seven seasons under its belt, Sister Studios has grown. With a wily eye for business, and a sense of fun that keeps the label lighthearted and fresh, the duo bridges the divide between contemporary pieces made in luxury fabrics and an affordable price point. One thing hasn’t changed, though – Cutri and McIntosh still like to make clothes their friends would want to wear, anticipating how Australian women want to feel. The muse behind Déjà Vu, says McIntosh, was Cutri’s own personal style – a wise starting point.
“The winter collection has a strong Emma vibe about it with the super-tight, high flares and corduroy. We also took a lot from ’60s mod-suit styles, especially the buckle details,” she says.
When McIntosh describes a typical day’s work at Sister Studios it’s clear she cares about provenance. “Usually we meet at one of our houses and sit down to a whole lot of filter coffee. Then we head to the studio where we check in with our wonderful pattern maker and sample sewer, Pippa. We try on samples and discuss new designs. Emma does the post and online orders and then we pop up the road to meet our manufacturer. He usually offers us an espresso and Alice’s cheeks get pinched by a gorgeous seamstress, Angela. We drop them fabric or patterns and pick up garments,” she says. “Lunch is never neglected. Our favourite is Green on Sydney Road and Good Days when we decide to treat ourselves.”
A sustainable wardrobe addition, the Lewis wrap dress in terracotta can be switched up and worn a number of different ways depending on your mood – clinched in at the front or at the back. Pretty denim lace-up tops are given a grungier slant when worn over figure-hugging skivvies in merino wool, which can also be tucked into high-rise jeans during the day, or a leather mini skirt at night. These are simple and seasonless pieces with enduring appeal that look and feel good.
Spring/summer 2019’s Sunkissed collection is pearling on the horizon and will be ready for production later this year. “It’s a bright and sunny dream and we can’t wait to show everyone,” says McIntosh. In the lead up to its release McIntosh will visit Nepal for an art residency while Cutri holds down the fort. Pop-ups in both Melbourne and Sydney are in the works too.