Song For The Mute is the Australian Label Uplifting Local Voices
Back in 2010, Melvin Tanaya and his life-long pal Lyna Ty decided to set up their own brand in Sydney, Australia. They came to the conclusion that they would name it Song For The Mute – with the intention of providing a voice for the voiceless. “Over the past decade, we have been growing through narrative and evolving through creativity,” explains Tanaya. Starting out as a small menswear side project whilst the design duo worked other jobs, Song For The Mute has spent the past decade slowly expanding into a fully-fledged brand – each season exploring the cultures that surround them, and as Tanaya puts it: “pulling inspiration from our unique experiences through sound, material, people, and stories.”
The pair met in middle school, where they shared an art class. Whilst Ty went on to study design at Accademia Italiana Di Moda, Tanaya originally decided to go down the graphic design route. It wasn’t until the pair graduated from their studies when they decided to join forces creatively.
“The most integral to our brand is the notion of family, community and authenticity,” affirms Ty. “As momentum grew [around the brand], we learnt that there were people who related to our vision, our shared lived experiences and appreciated our designs.”
Presenting each season as a different chapter in the brand’s evolving story, Song For The Mute is currently stocked at Dover Street Market Singapore, Harrods and Selfridges here in London, as well as running its own e-store and flagship location in New South Wales, Australia.
The design duo’s latest offering, 20.2 Djebel, is a collaboration with Turkish-born, London-based photographer Olgaç Bozalp. “His ability to capture a persona is raw, honest and always alluring,” says Ty. “Extending to him an artist interpretation [of the collection] was organic.” Each piece from the collection is deeply rooted in family and tradition, two elements, the due say, are also recurring throughout Bozalp’s work.
Inspired by a trip Lyna Ty took to Tunisia with her partner Karim Gaaloul – who also happens to be the brand’s wholesale manager – the designer began referencing the rich textiles, handwoven yarns and curated charms of protection she discovered whilst travelling through Ksar Hellal.
Many of the pieces are adorned in photographs the designer took herself whilst on the trip, with silhouettes and colour schemes taking inspiration from Gaaloul’s own paintings and sculptures over the years. Bozalp then interpreted the collection through the lens of his own heritage – photographing each piece on members of his local community back in Turkey during lockdown.
“We wanted him to have the freedom to explore his surroundings whilst representing an area of great beauty, which is exactly what he did,” says Tanaya. Ty echoes this: “Diversity in representation is critical to his work. Olgaç constantly challenges normalised ideals of beauty, heralding the unique aesthetic of Turkey and the Middle East.”
Now more than ever, it’s vital to not only celebrate your local community but support it, too. Long before the age of cancelled flights and national lockdowns, Songs For The Mute has been making sure the voices of the people who surround them have been heard – telling each story with honour.
Photography by Olgaç Bozalp. You can buy Song For The Mute’s ‘20.2 Djebel’ collection here.