Song for The Mute

Belinda Aucott catches up with emerging Australian fashion designers Melvin Tanaya and Lyna Ty to uncover their decidedly cult menswear label Song For The Mute

10 Nov 2011

When Lyna Ty and Melvin Tanaya from Australian menswear label Song For The Mute lost 85 garments on a shipping route to Paris they thought their fashion career was over. Instead of popping champagne corks in a Parisian hotel suite next to potential buyers, they found themselves back at square one, working round the clock to stitch 9 pieces for the 2010 L’Oreal Fashion Festival in Melbourne.

For the young Australian school friends for whom Song For The Mute was a living room project their dreams were as good as in tatters.

“We thought it was over," confesses Lyna Ty the sole designer of their collection. But thankfully for Lyna, the next step in their journey spelled success. The super-duo were shocked and delighted when judges praised their miniature-collection and miraculously awarded them the prestigious Woolmark Award.

Track forward 18 months and the pair of 20-somethings are now being flown to Singapore to give speeches on emerging design at Singapore Couture week October 26-31.

Having beaten fellow Aussie labels like Ellery and Bassike to win the Woolmark Award, their stunning victory was a game changer for Ty and Tanaya. With the $30,000 prize money they found they could keep their business going, gingerly mourn the loss of their second collection and enjoy the prize of being flown to Europe’s leading fabrics fair Premiere Vision in Paris for fresh inspiration.

Since early 2010 Song For The Mute has grown into a fully-fledged business. 25-year-old Lyna Ty of Cambodian-Chinese is the Co-Creative director responsible for creating all the garments, while Melvin Tanaya (who identifies as Indonesian-Surabayan) gladly takes care of the business end of the label. 

Now in their 4th collection their next Fall/ Winter collection will boast a bevvy of local sellers who champion their brand and support from key editors across the country (including Condé Naste fashion doyenne Nancy Pilcher who they describe as their Aunty!).

Their quiet headway into the realm of high-end fashion seem written in the stars. In Brisbane they have cultivated a loyal following at boutiques like Fallow, and exclusive distribution at Ink in Hong Kong and The Mandarin Gallery, Singapore.

Their handiwork is now shown alongside Alexander Wang and Gareth PUgh meaning Song for The Mute menswear is slowing creeping out of the realm of local competitors like Fernand Frisoni or Chronicles of Never into the luxury echelon.

Thanks to the generous sponsorship of their next collection by Dr. Georgia Lee (founder of the skincare line DrGL) and Dr. Frank Cintamani (chairman of Singapore  Fashion Week) in Singapore their next range features a suite of luxury fabrics.

The new range features waxed linen organically dyed with Persimmon juice sourced from Japan, as well as smokey-camel coloured cashmere scarves, jackets that follow an organic cocoon-like form. 

From their tiny terrace in Surry Hills the pair will soon commence a shoe collaboration with Australian cobbler Andrew MacDonald and do global drop of their new men’s jewellery line with Melbourne makers Hensen this Christmas.

“It isn’t glamorous as people think," says Melvin. 

“We are still learning, we are still growing up with the brand," he says. 

"When we started we were known for being raw and organic but the new collection we are working onto show in Paris in January is much more tailored and much more finished,” says Lyna.

“We have all the challenges of a young business. We have limited resources and limited capabilities. Our main inspiration outside of fashion is music, especially our friends in Bircks of Berlin who compose all the music for our collections and our videos.”

Song for Mute

Songforthemute.com