How we spent our allowance

A bit over two years ago, after scribbling close to two hundred names on several little sheets of paper, I settled on the name Minku. It represented my brand without saying my name, and it had a geo-independent ring to it: Is it Asian? African? European? It was also just two syllables, easy to write and pronounce, and without silent letters and such.

There was only one problem.

The domain www.minku.com was taken.

Taken, betrothed, promised to another, another in far away Eurasia, who wasn’t even using it (I have come to see them as gatekeepers of the name until I needed it) and, gasp, wanted money for it.

I called bullshit, at the solitude of my work desk, where no one could hear me. Some people innovate on the net, give us exciting new possibilities to look forward to. Others hoard those innovations, demanding exponential sums as ‘recommended minimum bid’ for things that should be close-to-free. I had a new business that, like a baby, was guzzling euros by the second. I wasn’t ready, or able, to purchase the domain.

Fast-forward to early February. Minkudesign.com was becoming clumsy for where I wanted the brand to be. We were even starting to be taken seriously by the good people at Forbes, Tech Cabal, Venture Burn (South Africa), and earlier, the Barcelona Fashion Week site. I was starting to wince a bit each time I saw the burdensome ‘design’ appended to the name of the brand, not by my choice, but because I couldn’t get my first choice.

But maybe I could.

There are all these American Dream stories about the goal that seems so unattainable. But where, over years of working step-by-step towards one’s enlightenment, that goal begins to seem like the logical next step. In this case, I am not talking about being drafted to the NBA or Lupita-like propulsions to stardom. I am talking about getting the domain.

After a while, having the site at http://www.minku.com just seemed like the next logical step.

Now, several hundreds of euros later, my next logical steps include actions like emailing the writers of some articles of the past few years to see if they can update their links. And updating DNS records, which I never really paid attention to in school (so far, no major breaks, but I have to wait days for different changes to propagate around the web, so only time tells). And thanking you guys profusely for not losing your patience when I say “please, update your bookmarks.”

WeReNowAt_Large

A new era is here. Thanks to the good domain-name gatekeepers in faraway Eurasia, I could get the name I desired (that is how I choose to look at the situation).

Thank you for your support always.

Minku

PS: The original artwork above was done by artist Rithika, to commemorate Valentine’s day at Minku in 2012.

Viernes is Bag Day IX: Menswear!

Today I courageously ventured into menswear again. My previous attempts had been, on first try, NSFM. Not suitable for men. Cue too-narrow chest area, too-skinny pants, too-tight neckhole.

Ah well what the heck, I adjusted those in time for the pending photoshoot each time (thanks for your patience, Fra!), and now, with all my menswear mistakes behind me (:-P), I decided to give it another try.

I like menswear because little innovations mean a big deal. Womenswear, you have to choose whether you want to be master of cut, or master of detail, or embellishment maestro, or knitwear mistress. But menswear? Just do some asymmetric magic and you are Man of Kingswear King of Menswear. I am sure I am wrong, but what do I know?

I figured out that my dimensions (which I use to make most of the clothes in the limited Minku womenswear line) don’t quite work for men. Broader shoulders, they have. And longer arms. Narrower hips. Lower waists.

Today I made a long-sleeved hoodie. It’s extra-long long-sleeved. I used some lamé fabric for the drawstring. And some black stretch fabric left over from a dress I made before, for the hoodie lining.

It’s looking spiffy.

I tried it on at many points during its construction. It’s super-freaking-baggy.

Like it should be.

MinkuHoodie

I like comfortwear, but I won’t have guessed that I would make a baggy hoodie — which starts to venture into streetwear even. Streetwear with a sweet edge. I love polka dots, and shine.

This Minku thing is a journey and I look forward to continuing to surprise myself.

Minku hoodie made from jersey polka dot fabric (cotton, polyester and elastane mix) with lamé detailing and extra-long sleeves.

Minku Autumn/Winter 2013-14 Collection Launch

Yesterday March 3, 2013, six days into Paris Fashion Week which we didn’t take part in, and 31 days after Barcelona Fashion Week which we did, we officially launched the Minku AW2013 Collection. Why not have a party if there’s a faint reason for a party, right? And thus it was that we began to send out invites to friends, bloggers, buyers and other creatures of general awesomeness. In Lagos. In the March heat. Because life is awesome. Flowers were bought and picked, posters were made, food and drink were ordered. Lola of Oliya Modi, our guest exhibitor, arrived to intersperse the bags with some of her lovely clothing. And then our guests came.

LaunchPhotos

There would be more pictures rolling in, so look out for another collage like this, perhaps more of what was going on outside the exhibition room. Otherwise known as my parents and their friends hanging out outdoors and sharing stories and drinks. On second thought, maybe not so many pictures of those coming up ;-) The good news is that starting today, the bags from the Autumn/Winter 2013-14 Collection are now available in the e-store. And that were it not for Wana, the damask lining of the Ado weekender may not have been sewn. I compare using her sewing machine to driving a Ferrari after years with a stick-shift Toyota. So yeah, a story for whichever lovely client picks up the weekender bag. As usual after the labor of love that is a new collection, I rely on you guys’ feedback as my designer-oxygen. What do you think about our new directions (more of the Eleko Wave; some structured bags, our first weekender, some serious mustard loving, and a blingy backpack)? Life is good. It is beautiful despite all the tough days. Minku helps me celebrate that. The launch was a celebration of life, of friendships, of family love which Minku is very much based on. It was held in Lagos, not far from the coastal view that inspired the logo. Life is good, I say. Go forth therefore, dear friends, to the Minku e-store, and shop. And spread the news to any friends you meet along the way. Love,Minku

Minku A/W 2014 campaign

The Minku autumn/winter 2013-14 collection is getting us excited from Lagos to Barcelona, and we wanted to share the preview poster with you. I just posted it on our twitter page and our home page.

So here it is on our twitter page:

MinkuGoesMeta

Très meta, I know. Ok, check it out and, be sure to follow our facebook or twitter pages, they’re a distillation of the blog.

happy weekend, it’s the first one of the year…

Minku

Eleko wave™ overdrive

I’ve been Elekowaving like there’s no tomorrow. I even broke a needle today in the process. It was quite something, I was lucky to have another needle waiting to be used.

What’s the Eleko wave? It’s a treatment of leather that is exclusive to Minku and that will probably be arduous to imitate anyway because who would want to hand-sew all those stitches? The return on time-investment of it is probably low but I am just happy to experiment in my little ‘leather lab’ here. The reward is beauty and that is always a reward worth striving for.


Minku

Hot stamping on leather – how to

Also called estampar en caliente in Spanish, hot stamping has been the hot topic at Minku for the past few days. It started with the acquisition of a Minku die, cast in metal. I just have the die and its handle, no built-in thermostat or other adornment. The goal was to have some cool branding on the bags I made, something more sophisticated than sewing the name ‘Minku’ onto a sticker and attaching them to the bags.

What you need: – die – heat source, eg an electric iron – untreated leather – water in a glass – a sponge – a flat, hard surface

How to hot-stamp a pattern, your brand logo, etc onto leather:

1. Turn on the heat source. Depending on how pronounced you want the stamp mark to be, the temperature can be 80 to 160 degrees Celsius. I just put the iron on max, waited for 5 minutes, and rolled.

2. Place the die on the hot surface, to start pre-heating. I use one that is forged out of brass.

3. Dip the sponge into the glass of water, squeeze it, and wipe it across the surface of the area on the leather where you’ll like the stamp to appear. Continue to swipe the sponge across the leather until its (the leather) colour darkens. If it doesn’t darken, the leather may be treated with a dye or other coating that makes it unabsorbent. I would advise trying another piece of leather, preferably vegetable tanned as this is most suitable for hot stamping.

4. Lift the die and place it on the leather. Apply some pressure, but try not to shift the die on the leather in the process, to avoid the parallax- reminiscent phenomenon of le double-stamp.

5. How did you do?

5a. The stamped area should be darker than the rest of the leather. This is a good sign. If they are the same colour, wet the sponge some more on your next try. Also, I placed the stamp on while the leather was still dark-wet. I read somewhere that you should wait a few minutes, but I did it this way and it’s what worked for me.

5b. The stamped area should also be pressed/ appear in lower relief than the rest of the leather. If it’s not, it is possible that the leather you are using is treated, or too thick, so try another piece if you have one.

6. Wait for the leather to dry.

7. Your stamped leather is ready for use.

The difficulties I was having: I tried stamping about ten different leathers, mostly treated. The  relief was really little, and the imprint faded, becoming virtually invisible after about an hour:

Then I looked online and saw that you should use water. So I applied water with a sponge, and waited till the leather wasn’t quite so dark before stamping. The combination of this (I think) and the fact that most of the leathers were not vegetable-tanned, resulted in similar, faded results. At this point I was getting a bit frustrated because the die is quite expensive, and I was thinking there was something wrong with it.

  

Today I had a Eureka moment and decided to try stamping on untreated leather, and using just a bit more water. I think that because I grew up hearing that you should keep water far away from leather goods, I had been reluctant to wet the leather to the point that it darkened. But once I did these, everything else was smooth sailing. Now I’m happy, it’s 6am, and I think I will go to bed. Thanks for reading, and if you have had some experience with hot stamping, please share in the comments section.

Caveat: In the case of hot stamping, the heat and the water (and the nature of the leather) do most of the work. So don’t stress your arm trying to achieve ‘sufficient’ pressure, like I was doing. If you do the other things right, you can get a bold, visible press using minimal pressure. Also, many different leathers including chrome-tanned ones can be used for hot stamping, but the ones that take the heat the easiest are the vegetable-tanned ones.

xoxo Minku

If you would like to see the end result on some bags I made, you can see them here (opens a new window).

Logo voting results revealed

Hi everyone, thank you so much for taking time to respond. I learned a lot from your comments. In the end, the Minku logo is option 1, because it won the vote 26 to 5 (including two votes that were sent to my inbox).

Other reasons:

– Apparently my friends think I am more an ‘earth’ person (it’s true, I love earth tones), so the natural-looking logo goes more with the person they know (Alicia, Pembe)

– Option 1 may fit the brand’s feel better (Rithika, Jaebin)

– Lagos. Picture of sailboats with what seems like Third Mainland Bridge in the backdrop really brings home the idea of, you know, Lasgidi* (Folarin, Victor)

– Reproducibility. If the image is going to be reproduced for different purposes, option1 is easier for this purpose than option 2 (Siddhika)

– Option 1 gives an idea of exoticism and travel to the collections (Clemence)

– The sense of something different and edgy is better exuded in option 1 (Tolu, Diana)

– Option 1 for the leather brand that Minku is now, 2 may better suit a future clothing label, who knows? (Dele, Tolu)

So there it is. Starting August 3 – tomorrow, your Minku orders will come with a Minku logo stamped on to the leather. It will look like this:

Please see tomorrow’s post for a sample. Yay, brandinggggg :-)

Best regards, Minku

*Lasgidi is the informal name for Lagos, Nigeria