The Magical Sixth Floor of the Royal College of Art turned into a fashion label
“Months after gradution were filled with postpartum depression,” says Eva Maria Suviste, partner in business (and crime) of Zoe Waters. Other than getting drunk, as they want us to believe, these two girls were brave enough to co-found their own brand just after graduating from the Royal College of Art Fashion Design Womenswear last year. “We just had a drunken promise to each other to do something together — having no idea what it would look like or how we would do it.” Floor Six was born.
What did you do before studying at the RCA?
Zoe: I did my BA at Westminster, which was amazing. My family isn’t particularly artistic, my granny used to paint but only as a hobby. From a fairly early age, I’ve had an interest in clothing and fashion. I was a particularly stubborn toddler and refused to let my mum dress me, which resulted in some pretty interesting looks.
Eva: I did my BA in Denmark, in a small town in the middle of the country. I definitely got the admiration for clothes and fashion from my mother, as she used to make clothes for my sister and me: we were the best-dressed girls around the block. I did hate one of the things a lot, though, a leather waistcoat and skirt set in particular (I was eight years old, forgive me).
Have you had a specific style throughout the years at college?
Zoe: My style has changed quite significantly in terms of its wearability. My BA collection was made entirely from cardboard! However, I would say that my references, inspiration and aesthetic have stayed on a fairly similar path.
Eva: I think that if I look back to the early days of my BA, then my style has changed a lot. But I still carry some elements from my last years of BA with me. I am always drawn towards a tailored trouser and a crisp white shirt. I think it has been a parallel development to who I am as a person. When I started my education eight years ago, I came from a culturally very different environment and had different views of the world, fashion and femininity.
Was FLOOR SIX a project that you had in mind while on the MA at RCA?
Eva: We just had a drunken promise to each other to do something together, having idea what it would look like or how we would do it.
“YOUNG DESIGNERS ARE SOMETIMES TOO EAGER TO GET EXPOSURE AND DON’T CHOOSE WHO THEY TRUST.”
What were the first few months after graduation like?
Zoe: They were mostly spent drunk (“they were filled with postpartum depression”, says Eva)! The creation of FLOOR SIX didn’t come until the following year, but we had been talking about it for most of the year in-between.
Is there anybody involved in mentoring you either from a design or business perspective?
Not in particular, but we do get a lot of info and insight from our friends who work in the industry or have started their own labels. Zowie Broach (head of fashion at RCA) and Tristan Webber (senior womenswear tutor at RCA) have given us a lot of support and advice.
Is there a clear division between both of you as designers within the brand?
Eva: I wouldn’t say there is a clear division. We do a lot of things together, work is usually organized based on who is free at what time, or what is more convenient and less time consuming. When it comes to design or making, I guess the strengths lie in the things that we have done before.
What do you feel is missing in the market, and what do you feel is too abundant?
Eva: Good effortless design and good shirts are missing. There is too much circus going on, too much of playing with people’s trust towards a brand.
Zoë: Yeah, there is too much abuse of loyalty from brands. And also I feel like everything is missing, but nothing is missing at the same time. There is an overload of everything.
Eva: People are blinded by their love for a brand and they buy into hideous things.
Most difficult thing about starting a brand?
E+Z: Everything. So many fears — money, time, space. Getting favors is not as easy as it was when we were students, because we are a “business”. But in reality, you are a business with no real business in the beginning.
What sort of references feed into your work?
E+Z: For our first collection we just looked into our past work and took pieces that we never got the chance to make, and made them.
“THERE ARE NO BETTER OR WORSE TIMES, IT IS ABOUT THE TIME YOU ARE GIVEN AND WHETHER YOU DECIDE TO TAKE THE RISK OR NOT.”
What has been the first piece you designed for the brand?
E+Z: A pair of trousers.
What is the biggest obstacle you had to face in creating your own brand?
Do you feel that today’s climate in the industry is good for young designers to start their own thing?
E+Z: There are no better or worse times, it is about the time you are given and whether you decide to take the risk or not.
What do you think is a mistake a young designer is most likely to make?
E+Z: Get ‘help’ or involved with the wrong people. Young designers are sometimes too eager to get exposure and don’t choose who they trust.
How do you decide how many pieces you want to create for each collection?
Eva: 8 unique pieces per collection, supported by a collection of 6 more basic items in various colour options. In this collection, the special 8 pieces are the leather jacket, the pink silk twill (‘double denim’) suit, bright pink long dress, 6-layer tulle parka, chunky open back knit, 6-layer tulle jeans, pink bag, and the 6-shaped earring. We do not limit the number of collections per year.
Zoe: However, it’s something that we can re-write the rules to, depending on what fits each season or year.
Eva: If we think it is necessary, we might do a collection of 8 jackets or 6 chairs.
Why would you stay in London? What makes this city special?
It wouldn’t make sense for us to be anywhere else. There is such excitement and encouragement around young designers here, and such great tools and organizations to help and support designers like us.
What are your plans for the future?
Words Teresa Fogolari
All images courtesy of FLOOR SIX