The collaboration between legendary Los Angeles boutique H. Lorenzo and upstart Australian brand Song for the Mute solidifies a partnership that was built upon mutual respect. We recently caught up with owner Lorenzo Hadar and SFTM Creative Director, Melvin Tanaya, to discuss the project.

Sitting in a sun-filled room in the H. Lorenzo men’s store on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, Lorenzo Hadar and Melvin Tanaya are stylish in completely different ways – but there’s an effortless “cool” about both men. In a matter of hours, the shop would be transformed from a boutique – stocking brands like Christopher Shannon, Fear of God and UNDERCOVER – into a party atmosphere celebrating the completion of H. Lorenzo and Song for the Mute’s six-piece capsule collection.

We recently caught up with the duo to discuss what went into achieving their shared vision – which included needle punched fabrication, Japanese-sourced fabric, and a cosign from a hip-hop heavyweight. In addition to the interview, we also have a collaborative editorial releasing soon so be sure to keep an eye out for that.

How did the collaboration come about?

MT: H. Lorenzo is a store we’ve always aspired to. When we started the label, [it] was one of the stores where we were like, “This is a personal goal for us.” It’s something that me and my design partner, Lyna, have been trying to cook up for two years. It’s an organic process. It’s something I’ve had in the back up my head but didn’t want to force it.

LH: It’s something we built up together. We had [already] created a nice relationship and saw that the product sells very well. We really believe in the product and the designs so we decided to give him a platform for people to really know the brand better.

On a personal level, how do you go about curating the brands that you want to carry in-store?

LH: It’s always about feeling. That’s how I do things. It’s something you feel and you build up from there. It doesn’t happen in the beginning, but once you have a relationship, it comes from both sides.

What did you specifically like about Song for the Mute?

LH: First of all, [Melvin] is very passionate about it. He’s a smart kid, and he knows how to take it to the next level and build up from zero. You can see when someone is really passionate about his brand. We just believe in it. It’s not like a big brand who is already there with a big Army behind them.

MT: Being stocked in H. Lorenzo for the first time in Spring/Summer 2013 opened up a lot more [opportunities] internationally for us. The way they bought and curated the brand really helped us with our position in the marketplace because we could see what someone like Lorenzo picks and that kinda informed us how to take the [next steps.]

What do you remember about that first encounter?

MT: I was super nervous. I put my heart and soul on the table and said “please, give it a go.” And he did. And it sold really well.

Can you detail the technical attributes of the collection?

MT: The most important thing about the collaboration is the fabric. Song for the Mute is about the fabric. The DNA of the brand has always been about the fabric. It’s a technique called needle-punching. It’s a very old technique which has almost been forgotten in the world of fashion.

When Lorenzo came to Paris, he talked about how much he loves the color purple. When Lyna saw the fabric, we thought we could do something because we introduced needle-punch in Fall/Winter 15. She was like, “What if we do a special collab?” On the spot, we asked “what do you think if we did a special collab for you guys?” But it ended up being way harder to do.

For one of the pieces, it’s double-woven wool, and all the silk chiffon is hand-layed. When we first did the sample – when it was needle-punched – the black wool was too thin so the black chiffon went underneath, and you couldn’t see it. The first sample came back and we couldn’t see anything. So we had to actually double-face the wool, needle-punch it, and strip it all back because being in LA it can be too heavy. There’s a lot of thought and process.

Where is the fabric from?

MT: All the fabric is from Japan. Everything is made in Australia. Being such a young brand, I think we’re very fortunate to be able to work with these mills. I think that’s what gives us a competitive edge. We didn’t come from a fashion background – like we didn’t have the knowledge of fabric making and all that other kind of stuff. We kind learned it the hard way. But I think the journey is what gives me the most [satisfaction].

How did Lupe Fiasco decide to do art for the show?

LH: Lupe is a friend of his and always talked to me about him. He told me that he really loves what he does. He’s a big supporter, so he’s chosen to come tonight and be a part of it. It’s all organic.

Words by Alec Banks
Features Editor

Alec Banks is a Los Angeles-based long-form writer with over a decade of experience covering fashion, music, sports, and culture.

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