Inspired by hypsies and global travellers, Meeka kaan presents a ‘move’ easy range of clothing with their Sayama Carnival 2013 collection. Featuring natural cottons, silk, hemp and vintage Hill Tribe fabrics, this collection is detailed with hand beading, coins, leather and embroidered motifs in a celebration of vivid colour. The free-spirited aura of Meeka kaan is reflected in a range of colourful accessories, clothing and homewares that are produced with love and individuality, with no two pieces being identical. Couturing had a chat to Sherwood Towner, the founder of Meeka kaan, to discuss inspirations, the importance of quality craftsmanship and life in the fashion industry.
Your Sayama Carnival collection is a celebration of colour, gypsetters and ethnic treasures. What inspired you prior to and during the design process?
Sayama is a loose adaptation of the Thai meaning for Blue sky (our artisans are mostly based in Northern Thailand). Exotic festivals representing a change of season and the multi layered cultures/cities/countries that embrace these … Rio, Mexico, India… Thailand where a carnival of colour celebrates warm weather. The collection includes Bonita, a Mexican influenced slip dress hand embroidered with pompoms in vivid colours, Belize maxi with its party of pompom neckpiece with a flavour of Rio, the Mali Dress with a hand beaded tribal neckpiece reminiscent of traditional Thai tribal costume…
How would you describe the quintessential Meeka Kaan girl?
She expresses her personality through the way she dresses. Her style is layered, a visual balance between change and tradition, modern and vintage. She is creative, free-spirited, her colours are bold, she is feminine. Some say she is the ultimate boho chic/gypset, but her look is also timeless, eclectic, stylish. She appreciates slow fashion, the unique, she is lead by her heart… there are no rules.
You are most certainly an artist in the way you design. Were you surrounded by creative people growing up?
Yes, my mother was in fashion…. My early years were spent in Flinders Lane, Melbourne with clothing racks whizzing up and down “The Lane”, where Australian owned Fashion Houses buzzed with creatives, workshopping freehand sketches, hand-cut patterns and locally produced fabrics/trims. It was the hub of Melbourne fashion culture, local design, vivid personalities… I made and sold my first item of upcycled clothing when I was 12 ( white business shirts “borrowed” from my fathers closet) individually puff painted with an 80’s pop culture motifs ….
How did you get into the fashion industry?
At 13, after school as a sales girl at Dominex, a 100 year old Family owned Fashion House, working my way into learning facets of the wholesale/design area until I was 18. I was then given the opportunity to experience another side of the industry, as a model in Europe, which led to fashion styling and Corporate Wardrobe design. I then spent some years in wholesale homeware as a buyer, progressing to Creative Director.
Your collection incorporates not only fashion, but jewellery and designer homewares. Do you feel it’s important for your fashion choices to work in cohesion with your decor and lifestyle ?
Meeka kaan is a brand inspired by artisans, a desire to keep these trades alive across multi mediums, being womens and kids fashion, accessories and homeware . No importance is placed on cohesion of fashion and decore/lifestyle consumer choices, quite the reverse. What is important is offering beautiful unique pieces for the conscious consumer to create their own style at home and out and about.
How and where do you see your label growing in the future?
Meeka kaan has a fantastic platform for growth, with every piece having a handmade element means each item/ the collection will always be unique. Production volume will be achieved through expansion of programs we currently run ie: family based workshops allow optional overtime, whilst teaching their children. We are launching our own print design fabrics this year, collaborating a collection with an external party, expanding our National retail data base and aiming at International retail and international online support over the next year. We are resisting the push for Australian online business, in support of our “bricks and mortar” retailers, which currently account for over 94% of retail sales in the country.
Lastly, have you got any advice for aspiring designers?
Research your audience/consumer, lay good foundations and employ good people in the “back-end” ( administration), believe in your ability, only put up your best designs- ditch it if its so so. Most importantly, work with your heart and your pockets will fill.