Song For The Mute’s Sound Of Success

Robb Report spoke with designer Melvin Tanaya, about the award-wining local label’s immersive next chapter … and logo-tattooed fans.

By Terry Christodoulou 12/09/2019

“I’ve always wanted to do something in retail, you know, to show that it’s not just runways and presentations in Paris,” explains Melvin Tanaya, one half of the creative duo behind standout Australian label, Song For The Mute. The Sydney based outfit began in 2010, after Tanaya, who was then working in marketing, formed a desire to produce a humble graphic t-shirt - a simple point of self-expression. He enlisted the help of childhood friend, Lyna Ty, an Accademia Italiana Di Moda-trained designer, and before long the pair had expanded Tanaya’s singular want into an 8-piece collection named ‘Song for The Mute’ (SFTM). Melvin Tanaya and Lyna Ty, founders of Song For The Mute “It was never something that we set out to do – we were both working jobs that we thought would be our careers, we never sat down and said, ‘let’s start a label’,” says Tanaya. The success of SFTM hinges on two key components – concepts, broken into chapters that push the brand’s greater narrative, and the use of alluring and unique fabrics. “I think the narratives are an essential part of our brand, you know, for a lot of people it’s a lot more than clothes, there are people who have the logo [of Song for The Mute] tattooed on them.” The highly conceptual collections have been a long running theme of the brand – with the current collection, ’19.2 Hunter’, built on the idea of a pursuit of oneself and the search of beauty within solitude. Beyond local and international accolades and applause sits a new Sydney concept store - a unique space of two black reflective pools with a curated selection of Australian flora from Kangaroo Valley and the NSW hinterland. “We wanted to make it an immersive experience, because the idea of ‘hunter’ is our most abstract and we wanted people to come in and be able to smell it and hear it.” Along with the store’s nature-inspired design, it’s also thematically, and geographically, linked to the label’s collaboration with Lepaar - a Kangaroo Valley skin care brand that’s created an exclusive roll-on oil made from biodynamic ingredients such as eucalyptus, pine and arnica (30 bottles of which are available at the space). As for the clothes - utilitarian would be a most apt descriptor with designs inspired by that same wilderness while allowing chosen fabrics to, well, sing. “The fabrics are what stems the majority of the inspiration for the design and we are very lucky to work with some of the best mills in Japan and Italy.” “We also feel our garments need to be felt. So, for us to do a brick and mortar that people can come and see, it’s important for us to really showcase these fabrics.” The new store also allows for some reflection on all that’s transpired to here. “We rarely stop, but sometimes we have these moments where we can look back on what we’ve achieved, and I think that the store will definitely give Lyna a chance to stop and be proud of what she’s created.” The SFTM concept space is open until October 7 at 79 George Street, Sydney. songforthemute.com
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