Suno's New York City Studio - Neiman Marcus
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Suno’s New York City Studio

Regina Campbell

March 21, 2014

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It’s not easy to define Suno, the brand founded by Max Osterweis in 2008, other than acknowledging that this is one of the most exciting brands to wear and follow in the U.S. Shortly after founding Suno, Osterweis joined forced with designer Erin Beatty. Together they took the brand from a collection based on Kenyan fabrics, making a statement about the “post-election violence in Kenya,” to one of the coolest, it-girl-must-have collections of sophisticated flowery prints and bold jacquards. As the brand expands into accessories, fabrics continue to be as important as the interesting silhouettes, which are already recognizable for their tomboy femininity.

It’s no surprise that after Suno arrived in select CUSP doors last season, we were thrilled to visit Osterweis and Beatty’s studio and see up-close where their creative process begins and what their work environment is made of. We were completely beguiled.

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NM: We love Artistic Prints this spring. Does your design process start with fabric choices? Describe the design process.
SUNO: You never know where the initial inspiration for a collection will come from. Sometimes it’s a fabric, a print, a painting or a photograph. Wherever it comes from, we then have to meditate on who that girl is – how to make her feel individual for that season.

NM: Do you continue to source fabric from Kenya?
SUNO: No, though we still continue to find print inspirations from some African textiles – but then, rather than using basic cottons, we use them on unexpected fabrics and textures to make things more interesting.

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NM: In your Spring 2014 collection it seems like your girl is as ready for an African Safari as much as the urban jungle. How would you describe Suno’s DNA?
SUNO: Our DNA comes from our first collection – consisting of 1,000 one-of-a-kind pieces made entirely of vintage kangas. From that we extracted mixed prints – and quickly evolved to incorporate different textures, fabrics and colors. Our most recent spring collection definitely felt like a return to Africa – but on a whole other level – with wild textures and mixtures, in addition to African-esque prints.

NM: How has the Suno girl evolved in the past few years?
SUNO: I think she’s a bit more sophisticated, while still playful.

NM: What are some Suno essentials for spring and summer?
SUNO: The oversized trousers, the Zebra Kanga Jacket, the cutout faux leather, and the Nicholas Kirkwood shoe collaboration!

Suno's CFDA Swarovski Award for Womenswear.
Suno’s CFDA Swarovski Award for Womenswear.

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NM: Do you have a favorite piece from the collection?
SUNO: Maybe the white pleated top with the printed cargo pant. It’s very hard to choose.

NM: What can we look forward to from Suno in the fall season?
SUNO: A modern gypsy girl. She’s a bit eclectic, a bit techno and still refined.

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Paintings commissioned in Africa by Osterweis.
Paintings commissioned in Africa by Osterweis.

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