sister studios is the cult label that began by accident
Speaking to designers Alice and Emma about their work and the calm philosophies that drive their label.
Photography Ben Thomson
Sister Studios started by accident. But it was a good accident, the kind that makes you wonder if it was meant to be. Alice and Emma were just two friends who loved sewing. When they'd hang out they'd inevitably end up working on something or other while they chatted away. Slowly their friends started wearing their pieces, then their friends started making requests, then strangers started reaching out to them on Facebook and Instagram. All inquiring about a brand that didn't yet exist.
Eventually the two women came to the very strange realisation that they had not only created a label, but they had a steadily growing fan base.
Sitting in their studio almost a year later, you begin to get an idea of how these two creative women fell into all this. The label is a product of a friendship, made by two women who can't believe how lucky they are. That feeling seeps into their work — scrolling through their feeds you want to fall into this world, be one of their girls in a bell sleeve with French New Wave dreams. Their distinctive look is influenced by romance, nostalgia and the kind of pictures you stick on your fridge to get you through a tough week.
We talked to them about dreams coming true, even when you're not looking.
i-D: Sister Studios really began as a slow creep. From the outside your pieces started popping up on social media, and the orders slowly came in. Do you think about what the label would be if you'd started with a traditional plan and design breakdown?
Alice: I don't think it ever would have really happened.
Emma: Yeah it happened in a really natural way, but that's why we've had so much fun. We had a business meeting with a friend and she was just talking us through basic strategies of beginning a business and we hadn't done any of it. And she was like, "this is really interesting that you guys are doing all of these things, but you don't even know what a range plan or sampling is… (laughs).
A: We were basically just going straight into production.
So you accidentally started a label?
E: Yeah! Everyone makes it out to be so daunting and scary and you have to do this and that and this, but we just did what we wanted.
A: I think not having studied fashion or business and not knowing what we were in for was almost an advantage. Because you don't realise how much work it is.
E: We weren't scared of anything.
Do you ever sit back and ask why it all came together? It seems very organic, but what was the spark that made it happen for you and not everyone else sewing in their room?
A: I feel like we were filling a bit of a gap in terms of a price point. It was really important to try to keep the label as affordable as we could. We were students when we started so we understood wanting these nice clothes, locally made clothes but not being able to afford them. We wanted it to be a shiny, friendly label that no one felt intimidated to buy from; we wanted everyone to feel welcome, and for it to be inclusive.
So what does success look like to you?
A: Being able to buy lunch, probably?
E: Yeah, just being able to go out for lunch, that's our favourite thing about being in the studio. We'd go out for breakie, or coffee… my boyfriend is an accountant and he does our accounts, he's like: "You've been to Wide Open Road ten times this week?"
A: He's like, "you could take more away if you just brought your lunch into work."
E: But we enjoy the ceremony of going out for lunch.
I guess that's the pleasure you get out of doing the label?
E: Yeah, we both love it. We always talk about how when we have families and kids we would love for them to grow up in an environment like this.
You guys just had your first birthday, are you starting to daydream about what you want the next 12 months to be like?
A: We're actually doing this project through World Vision called Vision Sister and it's raising money for birthing kits. They're simple packs to help with basic hygiene and tools for women giving birth in the third world. We're remaking some of our classic pieces and all the money goes to them.
What was your highlight of this year?A: Mine was being in fashion week.
A: Yeah, fashion week was so cool! It was so amazing
E: We were sitting in the front row together holding hands, sitting cross-legged together, cheering, we were so excited.
A: Our whole families were there taking so many pictures.
Text Wendy Syfret
Photography Ben Thomson