“There is no beauty in the finest cloth if it makes hunger and unhappiness.”
I’ve really grown to love and admire Sue Mue for their brand ethos, authenticity and of course their aesthetics over the years. When I first found out, sometime last year, that Mahima Gujral, Brand Head at Sue Mue (also the third-generation entrepreneur to join the brand) is experimenting with hemp as a fabric, I was beyond excited to see what’ll come of it. A couple of months and a few emails and excited texts later, Mahima, one of the most beautiful, grounded and optimistic souls I know, introduced me to her new baby – Sui. Her Instagram bio defines her as an ocean lover and slow fashion representative, so it comes as no surprise that Sui by Sue Mue is all about connecting the threads of travel to those of clean design.
We live in a time where adopting sustainability and conscious practices isn’t just for hipsters anymore. They may be very loosely used terms these days, especially for the sake of marketing, given their rising popularity both among the manufacturers and end consumers, but the fact is that they matter! The environmental footprint of the fashion industry is only growing by the day, especially the damage fast-fashion’s buy-now-wear-once trend is causing. The way we produce and the way we consume, definitely requires a reality check and needs to be looked at with renewed fervor.
Mahima seems to have caught on to that line of thought mighty well and is applying her learnings and resources to the best use with her budding label, Sui. She believes in fashion that gives back to the planet and feels light on your body and soul. Ethical production, alternate fabrics and recycled packaging are some of the methods adopted by the ‘label of love’ to ensure an honest, transparent and slower way to fashion.
Obviously when you think organic and eco-friendly, it automatically forms an earthy and a somewhat boring image of the clothing in your mind. Sui, for that matter, seems refreshingly cool with its resort vibes totally on point. Cool girl basics in tropical hues and versatile classics punctuated with nature-inspired details make for a rather tempting concoction, especially when you know it’s guilt-free. I tried on their Sundown Dress (if you remember from my Instagram/FB) and absolutely loved the look and feel of the beautiful knotted silhouette crafted in organic cotton. But what I was most excited about was their line of hemp clothing, so the next look I picked was this pairing of white wide-legged hemp trousers and a classic over-sized organic cotton shirt with embroidered motifs at the back. And boy can I live in it!
Did you know hemp is often considered a super fiber? Not only does it love nature, it is also durable and gets softer with every wash. It also doesn’t require pesticides to be produced making it a healthy piece of clothing to own. Oh and if you still aren’t convinced, you should know it is also antibacterial! SO MUCH WIN!
I’m sure it’s clear from my post so far that I cannot stop gushing with pride over my new favorite ethical fashion label, but it’s all for good reason. I had the pleasure of chatting with Mahima to know more about the inception of the brand, the challenges faced and their future plans.
Read on to find out what she had to say.
1. What brought about the brand Sui by Sue Mue ?
Well it really starts with the trips we took when we were younger, my father has always taught us how
to travel with eyes for nature. This has been embedded in me for years, and the second I had the
opportunity to go explore, be it food, hiking, diving, a walk by the beach, I went for it. Every experience
taught me, nurtured me and this truly made me realize the true connection to travel and our world.
How much it opens up your heart and your mind, teaches you to learn about other cultures, see
beautiful places, which eventually churn into the strongest form of inspiration.
This was the starting point; I always knew I wanted to do something with travel that connects. Over the
years after I joint Sue Mue’s marketing team – I realized how beautifully we had nurtured our work
family. I had always watched it as the daughter of the MD (Mom) but now as a part of the team-taught
me a great deal about what it takes to bring forward a business with care and love.
I think I always knew, that whatever path I’d take, would be connected to these roots.
After studying in Italy, the entire concept of fast fashion was something I grew strongly against. It was
a lifestyle change, and that was the only way I was able to find and understand alternatives. I couldn’t
stand the fact that we weren’t paying attention to the people behind the clothes, the over consumption
and the wastage, and lastly the use of fabrics which lack quality. For me, I had grown up learning to
appreciating these values and I wanted to take this forward. This was my turning point, and this was
the moment I knew I wanted to create something which speaks of love for people and for nature.
The fashion industry, being such a fabulous platform has the power to be the voice of change. It’s
impossible to make a lifestyle change over-night, but little steps make a big difference. That is the
foundation of Sui and that is exactly how we started out.
2. How did the name come about?
The idea of connection between design and travel was the core of Sui. Hence naming it Sui (needle)
described it in the best manner. More over, it takes from Sue Mue only being written differently.
3. How do you define your particular style or approach to design? What inspires you the most?
Definitely classic with an element of ease, I vouch for comfort and I believe comfort can definitely look
good. This has been one of the key factors we have considering while working on Sui.
My travels are my biggest inspiration, there’s no better way to refresh or to find new ideas.
4. What would you say is your specialty as a brand that distinguishes you from the rest?
Sue Mue’s legacy, and the fact that we at Sui have had the opportunity to nurture our new team
members, amongst a team who have been attached to Sue Mue since over 30 years. This definitely
reflects in Sui’s collection, the attention to detail is impeccable and that has all tricked down from Sue
5.What are you most proud of in your work? . Where do you see Sui five years down the line?
The learning. This journey has been incredible; being from a marketing background working on Sui
has taught me every other little aspect of a business and given me a 360-degree view. Experience is
everything, I always say this and that is what makes me proud that we as people and as a brand are
growing every single day and believe in being honest about it.
In 5 years, I hope to see Sui still believing in its core values and speaking to a larger platform to bring
forward the aspect of thoughtful fashion.
7. Name some artists/designers you admire?
Pero, I love the brand’s aesthetic and their storytelling.
Stella McCartney for her research into sustainability and aim to bring forward a stronger change in the
Anita Dongre for her work with her brand Grassroots.
I also love the brand Matter Prints – they are Singapore based and have a great brand recall.
8. If you had to describe your brand in one word, it would be?
9. What are some of the challenges you’ve faced at Sui so far?
1.I think the biggest challenge I still face is making people understand why it is important for us to
move towards slow fashion today and take a step away from fast fashion. Be it friends, family or even
new customers – the shift in the industry is slow yet it’s humbling to see curiosity growing. Everyday is
a new learning.
2.Searching for vendors, who believe in the same mission as you and who appreciate where you are
going – this was challenging task as these relationships were being built from scratch. After much
research, I truly admire the work our fabric vendors are doing.
3.Introducing our existing team at Sue Mue, to the concept of Sui and finding unique ways to make
them understand the same.
10. Describe Headtilt in one line.
Uniquely curated fashion and lifestyle.
Styled, Modeled and Conceptualized by Surbhi Sethi
Photographed by Tarun Chawla