Dirty dishes and laundry detergent are not the most glamorous of muses, but when designing their most recent collection as Miuniku, sisters Tina and Nikita Sutradhar found themselves inspired by such quotidian household items. Earlier this month, LVMH announced the 12 finalists competing for its Young Fashion Designer Prize, with Miuniku standing out amongst better-known brands like Hood by Air, Jacquemus, Simone Rocha, Suno, Thomas Tait, and Tim Coppens. At 23 and 25, the Sutradhars are recent graduates of London College of Fashion and two of the youngest contestants in the running. “The whole inspiration behind this collection was actually boring, daily chores,” Tina reveals of their newest work, the aptly titled “Mundane Things.” “Everything from washing and drying laundry to cleaning the house,” she continues. “The graphics came from repetitive patterns we noticed in things like dish drainers, our silhouettes from the shape of a bathrobe and how you tie the belt around yourself. Have you heard of Daz laundry detergent? The colors we chose came from the box—its blues, yellows, reds and oranges.”
Only in its second season, the Mumbai-based brand defines its aesthetic as a balance between “clean lines and graphic details, mixing minimal and maximal elements.” Focusing on menswear-inspired overcoats and structured jackets, the clothes pay little to no attention to the female form. For example, even the rare dress bears an uncanny likeness to the silhouette of a coat, lying flat against the body, and over slacks when styled. As if to make up for this lack of concern, each piece is accented with bold geometric patterns that wittily allude—when they don’t literally point, through zig-zags and arrows—to what’s underneath: a navy blue “V” hovers over the otherwise nondescript neckline of a cotton yellow vest, while the red inner sleeves of an all-white dress confirm the existence of the wearer’s waist when her arms are by her sides. It is this play between tongue-in-cheek embellishment and severe, strong lines that makes Miuniku’s style unique and difficult to peg. “It reflects the way we see fashion—we love clean design, but at the same time it shouldn’t be taken too seriously,” says Nikita. “Our customer is someone who’s confident in her own skin, who values color and print, and who loves to style and play with layers.”
In a manner reminiscent of Piet Mondrian’s De Stijl movement, “Mundane Things” moves away from the monochromatic hues of Miuniku’s debut collection and embraces color with particular emphasis on the primaries. “For our first season, which was actually our college thesis, we focused mainly on blacks, whites, and greens. But we didn’t want to be known as ‘those designers who just do black,’ so this time we decided to experiment not only with color, but with dramatic color,” explains Tina. The result is a more cohesive amplification of the brand’s hard-lines-meet-humor tenet, as oversized cloth belts swathe straight, organza skirts and biker jackets with multicolored lapels layer over neck-high shirts. A particular favorite for many was a cobalt blue and yellow wool overcoat. “There was a lot of buzz around that coat after Zendaya Coleman wore it to New York Fashion Week,” Tina recalls. “It’s funny because the initial inspiration for the colors came from an Ikea bag, and we weren’t sure it was going to work. I mean, who puts on a yellow overcoat and just walks around? But that’s the Miuniku girl—someone who might wear a yellow coat as a basic.”
Come May, the Sutradhars will be on their way back to Paris for the final round of the competition, where they’ll present their collection to a panel of judges that includes Karl Lagerfeld, Phoebe Philo, Riccardo Tisci and Delphine Arnault. Though their brand reflects a light-hearted stance on fashion, the gravity of this is not lost on them. “These are obviously people that we’ve admired and studied for years, so it was beyond surprising when we found out they wanted to hear about our research and ideas,” says Nikita. “We still have so much to learn since we’re just starting out, and we really want every collection to be better than the last.”
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