One of the great joys from this daily ritual of Blogging are the people you meet, drawn together from across the world through the magic of the internet and the love of great design. It’s how I met Soumountha – a very funny, fearless and edgy French-Lao-mum-to-3-kids-slash-blogger-and-entrepreneur who’s been looking for the perfect vehicle to focus her creative high energy, because Soumountha is a tigress with a deep motherlove who knows that to feed herself spiritually she needs that creative outlet. And now, with a perfectly executed flying kick, she has leapt into the fray with her own online boutique for emerging fashion brands: Another Garde. I wanted to know more…so we in between her hectic schedule we sat down, dressed in our imaginary finest with the perfect bottle of virtual wine to cut to the chase on the latest about her new fashion baby…
I’m so excited you’ve opened your own online boutique! I looove you’re style – so tell me, Soumountha, do you have an imaginary woman you’re selling to?
Yes. She is the unflappable woman. I like to describe her as ‘a complex, witty, mature, free and confident woman who breaks ceilings and kicks out of boxes, screams and smiles, has chipped nails and remains elegant and wonderfully modern.’ I like to think that she is owning her imperfections with inner and quiet confidence and a ‘so what?’ attitude.
What do you think she would she eat for breakfast…and where??
She would probably not eat anything for breakfast because she hardly had the time to comb her hair, but then would have a hearty omelette and a cappuccino – her strong espresso days are behind her – around 10.30am
. She would eat this at work or at her local bodega trying to sort out the beautiful mess that is her life with her IPhone…hahahaha! I’m getting deja vu!
What did you look for in your emerging designer’s?
That’s a tough one. It is a very complex process that includes both tangible and less tangible factors.
wants to develop partnerships with brands that are interested in releasing styles throughout the year – just like we are doing with our private label, Another Garde. The designers, Enda (Enda.us
) and Moses Nadel (mosesnadel.com
) on our site fall also into this category. The biggest challenge is to stand out in the crowd and I feel that as a group, we increase our chances of success if we leverage our resources and collectivize our risks etc. So being a team player is a key aspect of being part of Another Garde 🙂
That does not mean that we do not work with brands that are operating within the Fashion calendar – some brands are too amazing not to work with.
So more generally I think –
– their aesthetic needs to hang well with other designers’ viewpoint. I do favor a somewhat unaffected elegance, feminine and feminist silhouettes, great details and finishes, and minimalist cuts.
– I like designers who have an acute understanding of who they are and who they are not and what it is they are saying to the world. Schai (schaischai.com
), a brand that we will soon feature on our site, is a universe in itself . You get drawn into it through her designs but also her words, her imagery, her story and her personality. The moment I set my eyes on her creations I fell in love full stop. She is also a pretty kick ass woman #swoon
– I love designers who are creative and resourceful from a marketing perspective to a design development perspective. For example, I have been stalking Linie (linienyc.com
) for a while now because the designer is excelling at zero waste pattern making.
– And last but not least, I only work with designers who share our values when it comes to mature and confident women i.e. Designers who celebrate these women’s needs, their achievements and aspirations and understand what ageing with grace means and requires. In short, there is an underlying feminism behind what we do at Another Garde so I would probably not work with creatives who do not get it. (At this point I have to stand up and applaud..woah! woah! woah! finally!)
How did you find your designers? can anyone approach you?
The fashion industry is notoriously tough – do you think the young/new designer of today has the time to learn the ropes of this industry or are they, with the level of competition out there, expected to hit the ground both perfectly formed and running?
Because it is such a competitive industry, I feel that there is a general acceptance that there are more and more valid and legitimate journeys to own and run a label: from launching your first collection straight after fashion school to having a full time design job in a major house while experimenting with your label on the side to returning to work for an established company, if your label is struggling or relying on private orders only.
However, from the customer perspective, mistakes are not easily forgiven. It is competitive out there and it is so important to build trust with your clientele. My take away so far is this: make less creations but make them perfect for the people who really matter to you.
So my answer is yes designers have the time ,if they take this valuable time and develop A, B and C plans in their overall journey as creatives. At the end of the day, you are a creative and there is no lesser way of being one.
Do you see yourself as a mentor?
Since we are releasing our own collection for the first time, I see myself more as a peer who is experiencing the same journey as some of the other designers on our site: handling cash flow challenges, weighing the pros and cons of bypassing the fashion calendar (on a daily basis but still sticking to my guts for now), going through the ups and downs of collection design and development etc.
Having our own collection is our way to walk the talk but this has also become a truly humbling experience. We are just another brand working hard at finding our women.
Because I want to do my best at articulating partner designers’ vision to our target customers, I do ask a lot of questions. I hope these questions do help them to think hard about their brand, their positioning, their pricing, how they produce and sell etc.
Whose wardrobe do you lust over?
Phoebe Philo. Clean lines, feminine and masculine silhouettes, chic tonal palette; it is never boring but most importantly it ALWAYS authentic. There is a quiet rebellious character in her wardrobe.
And she is British, so that’s the icing on the cake 🙂
You’re based in New York..Will you be shipping internationally?
It’s something we’re hoping to introduce very soon – watch this space!
(All Photography by Carolina Palmgren, Styling is Another Garde)
What’s the last thing you bought…and why?
The Zoe dress by Brooklyn-based Swedish designer H.Fredriksson (Hfredriksson.com
) (pictured above) who works with sustainable fabrics and creates very modern and perfect silhouettes for women like me who are trying to come to terms with the various changes in their bodies. All her prints come from her personal drawings and paints. Zoe’s print is a special one because it is a drawing from her late husband who passed away before or during collection development. I was already in love with the dress but when I learnt about the heartache and strength behind the creation I just had to buy it. Helena has kids so this has really touched me: I just cannot imagine what she has been through. Every time I wear it, I feel her strength.
As we feel yours Soumountha! This pocket rocket warrior woman is fighting the couture clash with her flair for the international all beautifully moulded together by the wit and gristle of the streets of New York City and personally…I love it! Go Soumountha!
Laters, Kate x