A chat with Song for the Mute’s designers on why they don’t follow trends

About self-expression.

What do you get when you team an award-winning graphic artist and Parisian-born, Italian-trained fashion designer? The answer is Song for the Mute.

Launching its debut collection in 2010, the Australian-based fashion label – headed by Melvin Tanaya and Lyna Ty – delivers fabric-focussed pieces unique in their design. The brand stands for breaking the status quo and does this through its rejection of trend driven design. We sat down with Melvin to find out more.

How did the brand originate?

Song for the Mute started as a side project. During my studies, I wanted to do something for myself and had this rough concept for a clothing label. Initially, I envisioned it as a graphic t-shirt label. I wanted to create my own pattern for the tees, but I didn’t have any previous training in fashion design. That’s where Lyna came in. She was in Florence at the time finishing her Masters degree. I waited until she came back and then told her what I had in mind for the label, in the hope that she would design the pattern for me. Instead, she fell in love with the concept and decided to get on board.

What’s the brand’s ethos?

Song for the Mute is about self-expression. It gives a distinct voice to those who seek something out of the ordinary – it’s about escape and release. In this sense, the strength lies in the individuality of expression, as if the wearer is acting as their own muse.

The label places immense importance on the fabrics it uses. Why is this?

We draw endless amounts of inspiration from fabric. In most cases, it is the starting point to all of our collections. Along with that, it’s now more important than ever to supply our customers with consistently innovative and high-quality garments. 

What are the key fabrics you use, and how do you select them?

They vary quite drastically from season to season. The combination of wearability, aesthetic and comfort – in all situations and weather types –is very important to us. A fabric’s texture, weight and drape characteristics affect how they are selected and then applied to each piece. The fabric always dictates the application and final outcome, never the other way around.

Talk us through your design process.

The fabric is 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 fabric sourcing trip. It’s rare that we design something without knowing what we are working with.

Lyna then 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 specific way. We have to think about how the fabric will react to the design, construction and particularly the comfort.

Can you explain the garment production process to us?

Lyna does each and every pattern herself. There’s usually a number of toile versions before we are completely happy with the structure and fit of new designs. We then prepare and cut the samples. During this time we’re in constant contact with all of our makers, ensuring they’re involved and aware of how the pieces will translate into the final production. Once final orders have been made, we quality control each piece before final delivery to us from the makers.

Where do you think SFTM fits into the fashion market? 

The market is forever changing and evolving. Like our concepts for each collection, what feels right this season may not fit for the next. That said, we’re not trying to fill any gaps – our aim is to create beautiful, considered products that excite and connect our customers to the vision we believe in so strongly. 

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt since entering the fashion industry?

Be true to who are you and never take yourself too seriously.

There’s been a lot of change in the industry and a lot more demand for thoughtful fashion. Where do you see the industry heading and where do you hope to see the brand in five years?

We touched earlier on the industry being in a constant state of flux. Although the demand for thoughtful fashion is high, it’s about executing those ideas in a way that is both economically approachable yet made with integrity and quality in mind. We have some exciting projects in development that further solidify that vision. In five years, that will see us busier than ever before. We’re very excited to share these with you all very soon.

If you want to check out SFTM’s pieces in person, you can head to the brand’s first ever sample sale starting November 25. If you needed any more reason, you also have the chance to pick up a $500 voucher to spend at the sale. Click here fore details.


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