Sisters Tina and Nikita Sutradhar are the designers behind Miuniku, a luxury clothing and accessories line on the rise. The young Mumbai-based designers channeled their studies in fashion marketing, design and pattern cutting abroad at the London College of Fashion to create the buzzy brand that balances clean lines and graphic details, minimalism and extravagance. Though the twentysomethings only have two collections under their belts, they’ve already garnered international attention in the industry. This May, they took home the 2014 LVMH Special Jury Prize for young fashion designers.
Congratulations on being an LVMH Special Jury prize winner! How has this affected your short term goals for Miuniku?
Thank you! This has really speeded up everything for us! We are now working on SS15 and will be doing a small presentation in Paris. It has really opened doors for us and introduced us to the industry!
Can you tell us a bit about the nomination process? What were some of the steps you needed to take as a nominee?
The first step was an online application. We had to submit six photos from our recent collection and write about our brand.
Then, in February we got a call from Mark Alizart, the Director of the LVMH Prize who said that we had been selected as one of the 30 finalists (we screamed on top of our voices after keeping the phone!) and then we were invited to Paris to show our collection to a panel of 40 industry experts, who nominated their top 10. All the votes were calculated and there were four designers whose votes tied, so there were 12 finalists.
We got a call from Mark again in March, and he gave us the news that we had been selected as one of the finalists! We were invited back to Paris in the last week of May to present our collection before the star panel that included Nicolas Ghesquière, Marc Jacobs, Karl Lagerfeld, Humberto Leon, Phoebe Philo, Raf Simons, Riccardo Tisci, Delphine Arnault, Jean-Paul Claverie and Pierre-Yves Roussel.
We had one day to set up our stall and the next day was the day of the finals. Each jury member met us individually at our stalls for two minutes during which they asked us questions and saw our collections. Then each of us had a 10-minute interview in a separate room. We presented our brand to them, which was followed by a question – answer session. After all this, we just had to wait for about two hours while the jury decided the winners. At around 3:30 pm on the 28th of June, 2014, Delphine Arnault announced the winners. We won the Special Jury prize along with Hood by Air and Thomas Tait won the main LVMH Prize!
Your brand has a distinct international outlook. What are your influences?
We grew up at a time when globalization was really booming as it still continues to. So all the kids in our neighborhood grew up watching cartoons like Captain Planet, The Jetsons, Power Rangers etc. So we have always had a global / pop culture view on things. Also studying in London really polished our aesthetic and design sense.
What has the response in Mumbai been to your success?
They are really proud and excited! We got featured in our city newspapers and Indian fashion magazines like Elle India and Harpers Bazaar India. We will also have an exclusive interview with Vogue India.
How do you start designing a collection each season? How do work together in the design process?
We start with discussing what the subject of inspiration and feel will be and that’s what determines the color, print, proportion, texture, silhouette and fabrics. We work together in quite a natural flow. We bring different ideas to the table and try to merge them.
What are some of the biggest misconceptions about production in India now? How do you think that can be corrected?
I think the biggest misconception about producing in India is that the product quality won’t be that good. There are really skilled embroiderers and seamstresses here. They are very good at what they do, and if they are given the right direction, they can work on complicated pieces too. Because the cost of living is comparatively lower in India, the production costs go down as well. As long as the garments are being produced in an ethical and respectful way, if the customer is made aware of the way a product is produced, it can reduce some misconceptions.
How involved are you with the burgeoning Indian fashion scene?
I guess it’s a bit early for us to determine that. We can only tell with time! But it is such an honor to represent our country in this way!
What does the retail landscape look like?
We have interest from prominent buyers worldwide, so we hope we can have good distribution with our next collection!
Who are some your role models? In what way has this contributed to the brands aesthetic?
Nicolas Ghesquière, Miuccia Prada, Phoebe Philo and Raf Simons to name a few.
As graduates of London College of Fashion, did you ever consider staying in London? Are there any resources you gained or miss now that you are back home?
Yes, we plan to extend base to London after the next season. So we will have our design studio there and our production base here in Mumbai. We eventually want to be a part of London Fashion Week. This will enable us to be more accessible to the international market.