There is a huge shift in the market where local brands have taken it upon themselves to produce garments on par with foreign design and quality. The striking wave of next generational fashion has elevated standards and removed preconceived notions of product value. These brands strive to create a market which trusts and values locally produced garments, thus establishing an environment in which local brands can thrive.
Larisa K.C. is the founder and CEO of LaMuse. She has a Bachelor's degree in fashion designing & retailing. She started work as a freelance makeup artist at the age of 17 and with the money she saved, was able to start the label, LaMuse. Since 2020, the brand has grown exponentially with its popular and affordable products in the Nepali market.
What does LaMuse stand for?
LaMuse is a French term that translates as “The muse”. It is used to refer to a person, usually a woman, who inspires creativity in an artist. Our brand sees its customers as a muse for its creative pursuits.
What is your design process like?
For me, designing is the best part of owning a clothing brand; it is where I can let my creative juices flow freely. First, I conduct research to come up with fresh ideas that helps me devise a mood board. This involves analyzing fashion trends, studying the market and exploring new materials. The next step is making sketches which leads to making samples. From there, we start production on the finalized design.
How significant has the brand been in influencing Nepali fashion?
LaMuse has pieces that are very popular among teenagers; worn and adored by several. Our designs such as the “Kelly Pants”, ”Maddy Top” and “Annie Tie-Cardigan” were so popular that we had to restock multiple times. These designs were being replicated by numerous stores, significantly sculpting local fashion norms. It just speaks of the growing popularity of our reach as a brand.
Can you share any exciting projects your brand has recently worked on?
OMG YES! One of them was our first Spring/Summer collection “Festive Fever” in collaboration with influencer Shanaya which was released on the 1st of March. The collection brings Shanaya’s vision and high contrast personal style into the vibrant pieces produced in collaboration. The collection has definitely helped LaMuse step out of its comfort zone, exploring bolder colors and prints.
What makes or breaks a fashion brand?
A fashion brand’s success is determined by multiple factors: design, brand identity, pricing, marketing, and customer experience. Brands that excel in these areas are most likely to succeed, while those that struggle at it may find it difficult to gain a foothold in this competitive market.
What would you say inspires your Instagram curation?
In the absence of a physical store, we put intense focus on promoting our brand on social media. To feature our collections the feed is intricately color coordinated following a cohesive order. We have been able to establish our appeal through our structured layout. Our feed helps customers get a sense of LaMuse’s overall aesthetic values and style.
What influences and directs LaMuse as a brand?
LaMuse is committed to fair labor practices and ethical production which would be a major directive for the brand. As a fashion student, learning about the dark side of fast fashion, I was very motivated to create a brand that offered trendy and affordable clothing without contributing to exploitation. These ideals deeply influenced the identity of our brand.
What difficulties have you faced while running LaMuse in Nepal from manufacturing to the finished product?
The Nepali fabric market is quite limited. Materials used by a majority of brands come from the same source, making it quite difficult for brands to be different from each other. Also the lack of skilled labor restricts us to limited designs.
Initially what challenges did the company face?
We faced significant challenges due to COVID-19, with the first launch taking place just 10 days before the first lockdown. It affected our ability to operate the business as we had initially planned. We struggled to find factories and delivery companies that were operating during the lockdown. But we were able to find local suppliers and resources to produce designs during the lockdown, making the most of the resources that were available.
Tips on styling this fall?
LAYERING! I love Layering. You can layer a sweater over a dress or blouse and add a leather jacket over your basic fit to elevate it! Add another layer with scarves! Scarves are a great way to add warmth and interest to your outfit. Can’t complete a look without knee high chunky platform boots this fall! So invest in a good pair of platform boots in a neutral color like black or brown.
T 's Armoire
Deeya Tamang is the face behind T’s Armoire. She has worked in various fields from event management to television but she always felt something lacking. She felt impelled to open something which she could call her own and as she was always passionate about fashion, starting her own clothing brand came very naturally to her. T’s Armoire has a following of over 107,000 on instagram which secures the brand as one of Nepal’s most desired labels.
What is the idea behind T’s Armoire?
The idea behind T’s Armoire is to empower and inspire women through fashion and to uplift the fashion scene in Nepal by pushing the envelope.
Since 2017 how has the brand evolved?
We started very small in 2017 with products relying solely on wholesalers and import crews. Today T’s Armoire makes its own designs, mostly in its own manufacturing company with a core team of 16 people and around 10 - 12 craftsmen. T’s Armoire has been growing persistently and has become one of the most loved brands in Nepal.
What inspires the clothing that you make?
Initially it was my personal style that inspired the clothing but since 2020, I have hired a few designers and after that we have been exploring and experimenting in hopes of targeting a wider audience.
Name one article of clothing in your collection that has been a bestseller.
The Parachute pants which we launched last year would be a bestseller among T's Armoire's collection.
Describe your favorite item out of the collection?
I love each and every piece that I have created so far. But if I had to choose one, it would be the faux shearling long coat.
What palettes do you play with while designing and styling your clothes?
Picking the color palette for our collection depends on two things: firstly our mood and second the design. The palette varies depending on the seasons and is heavily influenced by yearly trends.
How would you define the brand's approach towards fashion?
T’s Armoire is very fashion forward. We foresee and set trends. From affordable lux-looking basics to seasonless items that bring freshness to your wardrobe. Our emphasis is on making fashionable clothing and producing essentials that are requisite to every woman's wardrobe.
Views on how Nepali brands are growing?
I am very happy that Nepali brands are growing in the market. So many creative people and visionaries are coming into the industry, so the future of fashion looks bright. I wish to see local brands in the international market, making a mark in the global market.
Any upcoming collections for spring and summer?
There are new collections coming back to back this year. We have envisioned bringing spontaneity into our collection this year. The new collection “Denimmatrix” will be launched soon; it showcases pieces that effortlessly blend Denim with prominent silhouettes. Keep updated with T's Armoire.
Sabi Bhandari is the co-founder of Brocade. He shows his prominence seeing how well the brand has received a wide segment of the young demographic. Under his leadership, BROCADE has become an unstoppable force in the street wear scene.
What does “BROCADE” represent?
The brand is a representation of the Nepali street wear scene. It documents the growth of street fashion and interprets what fashion means to the current generation. It defines art and free expression, made for the youth by the youth.
Define fashion as seen through the eyes of the brand?
Fashion is a statement; it is an extension of yourself. You dress the way you feel or want to feel. Brocade has been capable of tapping into recent trends, incorporating cultural as well as generational references to acquaint itself to the demands of the youth. Wearing BROCADE means expression and sparks a sense of belonging among the youth.
What makes BROCADE so popular?
Brocade is experimental and makes pieces which are generally unique. When we came out with the iconic brocade bomber we received mixed responses; we took it as a lesson to understand the demographic. I feel like BROCADE has been able to understand its clientele pretty well. The Brand has been able to mold its image to shape what street fashion means to the youth. The success behind our popularity is our understanding of trends and we also work closely with youth in various creative fields. We take notice of talent and invite creativity which makes BROCADE a collective for innovation.
What do collaborations mean for the brand?
Collaborations shape the industry. I was introduced to Kendrick Lamar's music when I first saw him on the LV runway video, a beautiful marriage of music and fashion. It integrates the art form into a brand that bridges both fields. BROCADE has strategically partnered with the youth to collaborate on multiple projects and has become a medium for creative expression.
How do you see BROCADE in the coming years?
BROCADE is at the forefront of Nepali street fashion. I would say the future is uncertain for Brocade but we are constantly evolving as a brand. As the years pass, the brand will conform to changes in trends but it will also revolutionize street fashion in Nepal.
A staple piece you loved working on?
During the NO INTERNET Volume 2, we had the artist Heem do a series of paintings which we later converted into canvas jackets. I would consider that a recent staple piece. We also had our dresses painted on live for Volume 3 which deserves mention because it shows our creative outlook.
What inspired the design of your flagship store?
Brocade worked with A For Architecture, an architectural firm, to create our flagship store in Jhamsikhel. It took almost six months just to create the eye-catching staircase. We came up with a minimalist looking interior which discouraged a lot of customers due to its high-end orientation. We decided we needed a makeover so we invited artists Sea and Melo among others, to tag the entirety of the store. The store is an extension of Brocade's orientation and has attracted attention for its uniqueness.
Any exciting projects coming up?
We are in the works for NO INTERNET Volume 4 which will be held in Chitwan and we have hopes of upcoming projects in the UK as well.