An entry by Song for the Mute

Words by Melvin Tanaya

The Origin
Song for the Mute originated from our desire to create something that could communicate to a customer more deeply and represent something meaningful.

Why did you draw that piece? What do you want to say? Those are the kind of questions we want to ask, and Song for the Mute is an attempt to reinfuse some passion and belief that makes clothing worth wearing. We wanted to create pieces that were intriguing in a deeper sense; we want each piece to tell a story.

Lyna and I might have different interpretations when it comes to the label, but there is always a huge synergy between us when it comes to designing our collections. I think this is one of the major reasons why we decided to start this project together – we both strongly believe in the core concept behind this label – the fact that people can come to their own conclusions, see their own stories or be moved for their own reasons. It’s personal, yet universal at the same time.

“Song for the Mute” came from speaking out for people who can’t speak for themselves. There are a lot of people, who through peer pressure, past difficulties or just unfairly high expectations from those around them, are pushed to do things they dislike. Some don’t have a choice at all.

We want our garments to be a catalyst for them.

Image courtesy of http://www.f-t.com.au/

The Design Process
Before we start sketching or commence the design process, we begin with the fabric. It’s always the first step when we make a new garment, and Lyna and I stay in contact with our fabric suppliers as much as possible. We’ll try and visit them regularly throughout the season, and many of Lyna’s ideas for the collection come after a trip to see them. It’s rare that we design something without knowing what we are working with.
Image courtesy of www.anewmuse.net

Lyna draws her designs with the cloth already in mind. That’s essential if we want to give our customers the highest quality possible; we continually search for fabrics that are special, fabrics that talk to us in a certain way. Lyna then tries to find the best way to use this fabric. We have to think about how the fabric will react to the design, the construction, and particularly the comfort. Ultimately, we use the fabric itself as our inspiration.

The Collection

It is hard to define what Song for the Mute’s signature aesthetic is – because every season it evolves, depending on the concept of the collection.

This label almost acts like a communication channel that we use to voice our thoughts and feelings. When it comes to design, Lyna is a very artistic thinker – she designs for the moment. How she feels, her mood and what she is experiencing and/or experienced, all adds significantly to the development of our concepts. To be able to portray these emotions through the form of clothing, it requires her to develop new shapes, develop new styles and develop new ways of making garments.

The concept and inspiration behind our new S/S 2010-2011 collection “Au Clair” came spontaneously when Lyna and I spent countless hours working in the factory alongside our makers on our debut collection “Ink” for A/W 2010. I remember myself measuring the pockets on our AW2010 version of the Curved Pant making sure every piece and the gap between the back pockets and the waistband is exactly the same.

This is when it occurred to us – these garments are made by real people, not machines – it is not only merely impossible to make every piece to be perfect, but this isn’t the point, as these minor infringements actually give the garments character. Just like humans, everyone has their own imperfections and rather considering this as a fault, we should embrace them as these imperfections are what make each of us unique individuals.

Developing from that concept, we wanted Au Clair to represent each imperfect fragment as a testament to one's character and individuality. To do this, we tailored every garment with one minor infringement, like an asymmetrical hem, differing tensions on the overlocker, an odd number of pockets or a raw finish.

Image courtesy of www.anewmuse.net

Song for the Mute is more conceptual than aesthetic; once we have the fabric and the concept, the next path happens quite instinctively and organically. We let those two factors drive the essence of every collection that we design, which means, aesthetically, we don’t necessarily know for sure which direction we’re going with next.

All we know is – every collection we put out will have a meaningful, personal and emotional story behind it.

We are so deeply connected to the work itself, that we take even the smallest things very personally and very seriously. All of these emotions become infused in our work.


The Production

A great idea is a start, but execution is everything. Song for the Mute means everything to us, and we want to make sure that every stage of production is of the highest quality possible by making sure that all of our garments are locally made. This allows us to oversee every stage of the process, and helps us keep an eye on the brand that we’ve put a lot of time and hard work into building.

To make sure we’re involved, Lyna and I have a transparency agreement with our makers. When our fabrics are sent off for cutting for example, we make sure we know who the cutters are and what they’re like. By doing so, not only can we achieve a much greater quality control but we also have the chance to observe the work environment of everyone involved with the brand.

Lyna and I inspect all the pieces individually in the post production. We iron and package the garments ourselves, making sure that they are all in infallible condition before we deliver them to the stores. We see every single piece off - it's almost like sending off a child out into the world.

The Team

We are a team of two. Lyna and I have been friends since the start of middle school – we both live and work in Sydney. We have different respective roles in the label – Lyna spends most of her time working on the collection. She develops all the designs, pattern-make all the pieces and then creating toiles/samples. I take care of the branding, visual communication/graphic design, and all the business side of things. We both then oversee the production stages together.

We put our all into this label. Because we are very a small team - we work 7 days a week and around the clock. There are days where we get really tired and wonder if all this stress is worth it – but when we look at the finished product and think of our customer who will be wearing the piece, it makes us realise that we truly love what we do and we can’t imagine doing anything else, even for a second.

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