MUKU was born in Lithuania about four years ago, when two designers—Mindaugas and Dovile—had their child Agota. Unsatisfied with the children's clothes found in stores, the new parents made attire for their infant daughter and over time, realized that others might want something similar for their children as well. The muted tones, loose fits for unrestricted movement, carefully placed buttons and natural fiber materials have become a distinct MUKU trademark, and encourage the wearer to focus less on what they're wearing and more on what they're doing. The kids' line has become so well-received that the duo decided to design an adult-sized collection this year. We spoke with the pair about how the line developed and their love for linen.
How did you come up with the name MUKU, and what inspires your minimalist designs?
This question makes us remember the very beginning. We were sitting in the park with little Agota sleeping in the stroller and were thinking about how to call our brand. We remembered the old fairytale from our childhood called "The Story of Little Muk." In Lithuanian, [it's] called "Mažasis Mukas," so it was just an easy, well-sounding word. We made it shorter—muku—that was the best sound for us at that moment, with no meaning: just a good emotion with some fairytales and pure childhood in mind. After some time, we found this word in Japanese language and the meaning was very close to our first mood. I hope we keep this mood to these days.
We want MUKU clothing to tell the story, to create a mood slightly out of this time, to look interesting and to enhance the character of a child or a lady.
We want MUKU clothing to tell the story, to create a mood slightly out of this time, to look interesting and to enhance the character of a child or a lady. Inspiration comes in very different ways, and many elements contribute to the creation process. It can be a single photo, painting or a movie, a vacation or a moment in nature. From what I recall, a book by German photographer Timm Rautert inspired us greatly, then there was a childhood memory, then an old movie by A. Žebriūnas, "The Last Days of a Holiday." The Baltic Sea and the Curonian Spit constantly amaze us with beauty and mood and brings new ideas. Inspiration always relates to our direct experiences in one way or another, therefore our creations are of great importance to us personally.
What is the Lithuanian scene like for independent artists and designers?
Creative environment is growing rapidly in Lithuania, numerous creators are emerging and gaining pace. One can call Lithuania a country of tailors—most of our women in the times of Soviet Union knew how to sew and many passed their skills to their daughters. It looks like these young ladies are waking up and numerous design labels are being found. Now the challenge is to be different. We constantly look for something unexpected, something unseen, even though most everything has been already created in the past.
[Linen] changes constantly and reacts lively to different elements like sun, wind, rain and even dirt.
What are the natural fabrics and materials you source within Lithuania?
As one can see from our work we are deeply in love with linen. It is a difficult material with unique qualities. It changes constantly and reacts lively to different elements like sun, wind, rain and even dirt. We carefully select colors, textures and shapes paying exceptional attention to the quality of our materials. We are proud to work with natural Lithuanian linen that was mechanically woven in one of the oldest factories in Europe. We also use wool, cotton, silk and mixed natural fabrics.
What motivated you to expand the offerings to beyond kids to womenswear?
The motivation was similar to the one for kidswear. We noticed a need, people started asking. It is simple—if a mother chooses some dress for her daughter, naturally she would not mind wearing that style herself. Ladies have always been our main customer and the ones we care about started complaining, so we decided to stand up for their needs.
Keep an eye out for MUKU's Fall/Winter collection, which is currently in the works. To purchase, visit MUKU's online shop.
Images courtesy of MUKU