Tina and Nikita Sutradhar
Sisters Tina and Nikita are finalists in the prestigious LVMH Young Fashion Designer prize for their label MIUNIKU. As students at LCF, they were selected for the BA13 catwalk show, winning the Fashion Innovation Award.
Tina and Nikita both studied the Designer Pattern Cutter foundation course (now BA (Hons) Fashion Pattern Cutting) before completing a top-up year to graduate from LCF with BA (Hons) Fashion Design Technology: Womenswear.
Congratulations on being finalists in the LVMH prize! How does it feel?
Nikita: I don’t think we have enough words to describe how it feels! We never really thought we would be finalists, it's kinda crazy! We really are so grateful, very encouraged, excited and honoured.
Can you explain the different stages of the competition that you have completed so far?
Tina: The first step: First there was an online application for which we had to submit six looks from our previous collection, six looks from our current collection and information about our brand. This was open to any designer under the age of 40, with at least two collections. They received 1,221 applications from all over the world, out of which 30 candidates were longlisted by the LVMH Prize Committee.
The second step: The 30 designers were invited to Paris to present their collection to a panel of 42 industry experts, which included people like Tim Blanks, Sarah Mower, Natalie Massenet and Carine Rotifeld, to name a few. This took place during Paris Fashion Week, so on the night of the cocktail party, there were guests like Anna Wintour, Nicolas Ghesquiere, Karl Lagerfeld, Raf Simmons and many more, who came to meet all of us! We couldn’t believe we met almost the whole fashion industry in the space of two hours! The judging panel looked at everyone's work and each had to vote for their top ten. The LVMH Committee calculated everyone’s votes and there was a draw between four designers. That’s why there are now 12 finalists and not ten.
The third Step: Now the 12 finalists (including us) are invited to Paris to present our current collection to a jury panel which includes Nicolas Ghesquiere, Marc Jacobs, Karl Lagerfeld, Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, Phoebe Philo, Raf Simons, Riccardo Tisci, Jean-Paul Claverie, Pierre-Yves Roussel and Delphine Arnault.
Sounds amazing! Did you always know you wanted to start a fashion label together?
Nikita: Yes, since a young age we wanted to have a fashion label called MIUNIKU (which is our nicknames joined together). When we found out that we would be studying the same course together, we were very excited. Even in College we were focused on the brand and did all of our projects at LCF as if we were doing them for MIUNIKU.
Why did you choose to study at LCF?
Nikita: Well, there are not many design schools in Mumbai that focus on research and design, which is something that we really wanted to explore. That was one of the main reasons.
How would you describe your experience at LCF? Do you have any particular memories?
Nikita: Our experience at LCF was great! We learnt a lot and made some really good friends. We have really good memories from school trips to Paris (Premiere Vision) and Belgium (Walter Van Beirendonck’s exhibition). We did have some challenging times, but we had the support of each other and the tutors, who were very kind and always ready to help.
How has what you learnt at LCF helped you to launch your own brand?
Tina: I think it was the nature of every unit. We were always expected to work on our branding and presentation alongside the designing and making. Also the Showtime platform really gave us a good start. We still get enquiries from the press because of our Showtime profile.
Did you take part in any competitions or industry projects as part of your course?
Can you tell me about the experience of presenting your final collection at the BA13 show?
Nikita: It was amazing; ever since we were in our first year, we hoped that we would get to show in the press show. It was a big deal for us. It was our first opportunity to show our work to the industry. Our parents were watching the live stream in India and they felt so proud!
How was your experience of living and studying in London?
Tina: It was a huge learning experience. We not only learnt about research and design, we also learnt to live alone and take care of ourselves!
You interned at Thomas Tait, who is also an LVMH Prize finalist. How did this experience benefit you while you were studying and with your brand MIUNIKU?
Nikita: Yes, we interned for around three seasons and helped out at times. I think interning and studying is a great mix. You really get to know how the industry works and see what you learn at design school coming into practice. It also helped us plan how we should go about our business and understand what we have to do for MIUNIKU.
What advice would you give to people thinking about studying fashion at LCF?
Tina: I would definitely tell them to go for it, because LCF is more than just a school; you can consider it to be your studio with the added benefit of guidance from tutors.
Thanks Tina and Nikita, good luck!