Monokrome for Men
Monokrome is a sustainable fashion start-up from Bangladesh. Two years ago, Maheen Khan resigned from her then job, as a country project manager at a tech start-up, to go to Italy and take a course on Fashion Design. The experience had changed the way she looked at fashion as an industry. The creative director/founder of Monokrome, Maheen, sat down with Avenue T to discuss her latest venture.
Tell us about yourself and the inception of Monokrome.
With Monokrome, I wanted to bring out the order from the chaos that surrounds us in Dhaka. I wished to design and create clothes for both men and women who relate to simplicity and minimalism. For me, what we wear is a way we express ourselves; hence, Monokrome was conceived with that concept in mind. It had always been my wish to contribute both socially and environmentally, and with time, slowly but surely, Monokrome hopes to have that impact.
When and how did you get inspired to start Monokrome for Men?
My friends, who are men, and others who I meet socially, love our designs and concept. Monokrome’s specialty is in cuts and quality of fabrics (textile is my passion). My designs aim for androgyny and gender neutrality. After a year of considering the possibility, we just went for it. We began with semi-bespoke orders mainly for formal shirts, chinos (pants) and casual blazers. Then, when we were ready and my research was done, I designed the first Monokrome for Men collection. The collection, which is yet to be named, is expressing my own interpretation of what a man stands for in today’s world. The fabrics are gender neutral.
How do you blend in sustainability with current fashion trends?
I do not believe in trends. I believe in innovation when it comes to design. Other designers’ works constantly inspire me. I am fortunate to travel extensively, and starting from my visits to the museums, to the architecture and people on the streets, all play a role when it comes to designing my collection. Observation is key to staying in touch with consumer needs. Sustainability is no longer an option, it is a necessity. We wake up to horrors everyday when it comes to the environment. What I strive for is sustainable design. I keep in mind what I can or cannot incorporate, and take it from there. For example, there aren’t enough options available for natural buttons, so I improvise the design accordingly. I may design the product in a way so it can use hooks or snaps. Architecture has a major influence on my work. When a building is built, it cannot be altered repeatedly. It is designed to endure, for permanence and to be sustained over a long period of time. I apply the same concept when I design.
What statement would you say Monokrome for Men makes?
It will differ with each man who wears Monokrome. The only word that comes to mind is individuality and that, itself, opens up endless possible statements.
What advice would you have for fashion enthusiasts who want to follow in your footsteps in terms of sustainable fashion?
The only thing that I can say is that it is important to be humble. Humility brings a lot of awareness, and if you are aware, you cannot ignore the world around you. A transparent supply chain and innovation in recycling and upcycling will make all the difference to our jobs as designers.