CASHMERE DESIGNER MANDKHAI JARGALSAIKHAN
We had the pleasure to talk to London based devoted Cashmere designer Mandkhai Jargalsaikhan. Whilst growing up Mandkhai was taught to harness her ambition, being the child of cashmere pioneers who eventually opened the first privately owned company in Mongolia.
How did you get into running your own fashion brand?
I spent most of my time in my parents factory growing up, my parents would be working until 11pm every night. I guess this taught me to be proactive with my own ideas and helped develop the work ethic necessary for starting my own business. Through my experience of working with the finest raw materials and in developing innovative construction techniques I want to change the current perceptions of cashmere in the fashion industry.
Do you only use Cashmere for your clothes and if so, why? It’s a great material but do you think that it limits your creativity?
I have a deep love for cashmere. It’s the finest natural fibre in the world! I think cashmere has a bit of an unfair representation in the current fashion landscape. People seem to be scared to use to it beyond the simple cable knit jumper or cardigan, and that motivates me to get designing. The use of silk can help it become lighter. Mixing it with merino or yak wool can give it strength and make it tougher and more durable. My current collection also utilises lycra in parts which gives it a stretch. I have unlimited colour palette and I can make any style I want! It’s not just jumpers. So I will never tire of working with this material.
How would you define the MANDKHAI style?
Our style is still being explored, ideas and concepts ever-developing. However, I believe our collections are consistently Timeless, Comfortable and Versatile.
Who is your ideal customer?
As we are growing we are noticing our demographic ranging considerably. This is probably because whatever your shape, size or age, we have something that will suit perfectly.
You grew up surrounded by knitwear designers and know a lot about the business. But you still studied fashion. How valuable did you find your education since you already had a strong background in the field?
I saw how things were manufactured, but I needed to design myself. One of the main reasons for going to university was to take myself out of my comfort zone, meet likeminded people and to immerse myself in this beautiful city. London has always been at the forefront in pushing boundaries across all creative industries and practices and I knew I wanted to make it my home.
How has the journey been for the brand so far and what what has been the response?
The brand was established in 2014, but i’ve been designing now for most of my life! However we’re still developing and navigating the international fashion playground as a brand. Of course the industry is like snakes and ladders, at every roll of the dice and each decision you’re never too sure of where it will take you. I’m lucky that I’m able to stay true to the ethos that I created by working in a strong and cooperative team. I have received an incredible response and I feel we’re moving steadily forward everyday.
What are the future plans for MANDKHAI and what are your expectations from 2017?
With Autumn/Winter coming up on the fashion circuit next month it’s really our time to shine. We’ve only had the opportunity to do this once before and the developments between both collections have been phenomenal. This season we wanted to be more conceptual and experiment with techniques like intarsia, plush towelling and knitted tubing. The patterns are playful and unpredictable, representing painterly abstract expressionist ideas but most of all, the organic patterns of our personalities and identities.
What inspires your work and the new collections?
My childhood in Mongolia inspires me. It was very simple, contrary to life in London. Everyone had everything they needed. People make do with what they have and that makes them resourceful – so that’s the way I’m wired. I guess people are the most inspirational thing to me. They are dynamic, fascinating, terrifying, ridiculous and hilarious. It’s an inspiration that is limitless. I design for people and I want to create cashmere products that add value to their lives.
Other than that, I am most inspired when I am travelling. When I’m in a new place I feel like a new person, full with potential. Last year I went to Wyoming and this really fuelled the inspiration for american expressionism into the next collection
What was the best advice ever given to you?
“In the end we only regret the chances we didn’t take.”
MANDKHAI is currently stocked in Fenwick of Bond Street & concept store Clerkenwell London and online at www.mandkhai.com
Videography & edit by Jess Frankland
Styling by Anna Choutova
Art Direction by Angus Joseph
Modelling by Sam (Wilhelmina)
and Gabby (W Management)
Clothes all MANDKHAI