Designers MadSam TinZin are in Chennai today. And guess what they are doing? Well, besides launching a new line inspired by Moroccan architecture and interiors, they will offer styling tips to those wanting to reinterpret garments from their wardrobe

MadSam TinZin. Sounds like a character from a cartoon show? Well, not. When ex-NIFT-ians Madhu, Saumya, Tina and Stanzin got together to launch a design label this was what they came up with! But going by the name, if you are expecting something over-the-top or quirky, you’ll be disappointed. “Our narratives are different. It is a challenge to stay mainstream, yet gently surprise the client,” the youngsters chorus with business savvy.

In Chennai for the launch of their new line Zellij, at Collage, Greams Road, today, the Mumbai-based designers speak about what moved them about Morocco, resort weddings, working in unison and more. Excerpts:

What was the starting point for this Moroccan journey? What does Zellij mean to you?

It might sound uncanny. But last summer, all four of us, almost at the same time, stumbled upon something Moroccan. That though none of us had travelled to the enchanted land, we happily embarked on a journey through the eyes of our imagination. We felt a cosmic connection that deeply inspired us to create ‘Zellij’. Together we realised that what binds MadSam TinZin to Moroccan interiors and décor is the commitment to the handmade — something that’s intrinsic to our work as well. Zellij celebrates Moroccan life in all its multi-hued splendour.

How do you think the art and architecture of the place lend themselves to the silhouettes, colour palette and crafts that you have used in this line?

The surface of Moroccan homes are richly decorated. Patterns abound and there is colour everywhere. Much like Indians, Moroccans too love saturated colours. Tastir (geometric) and Tawriq (floral), their fundamental patterns, are the main source of inspiration for different art media. It fuelled our imagination as well. Their love for domes and arches are prominent along with an underlying sense of strength. This aspect helped us create silhouettes with similar emotions and we incorporated these shapes in necklines and the structure of the garments. Our imagination further comes alive with the intricate embroideries done with precision by our skilled craftsmen. We have carried forward our love for thread and bead work, exploring new techniques and mixing it with a bit of mirror work to give it a Moroccan twist.

This is going to be a different promo. You will be giving a new spin on garments that clients already have...

Yes, this is going to be an interesting exercise. Clients who buy designer outfits often express concern about repeating the look. So we will be interacting with Chennai clients and providing them with styling tips to reuse any existing outfit by teaming it or accessorising it differently. It will be a creatively challenging experience that we are looking forward to.

For Zellij, you’ve departed from the beaten track with some experimental silhouettes. You think they will work?

We have created a variety of looks to suit the tastes of different clients. From flirty and fun to our distinct take on salwars and short kurtis there is a lot that’s new. We have created some printed tunics and outfits for high tea as well. To us, Zellij is like an assorted chocolate box, there’s variety.

Resort weddings are a huge trend. In what way have you addressed this segment?

With fine fabrics such as silk and net. Yes, there’s our all-time favourite georgette too which is a highlight of this collection. However, the weight and density of these fabrics is the key factor. Light weight flat chiffons, dupion silks and silk organza add to the glamour and comfort quotient of these styles. Our colour palette ranges from soft soothing shades to inky hues. They are mostly tonal with just hints of another colour to break the monotony. The silhouettes are a mix of light weight, flowing and fun structures enhanced with embroidery. They are travel-friendly, yet high on style! The right amount of bling leaves space for one to accessorise well and make a statement.

From Patang last summer to something so far away as Morocco... it must be a challenge to come up with something new every season. How do the four of you work in tandem?

As designers we thrive on the challenge to create something new. The passion to surprise our clients and buyers, to meet their expectations every time, is the reason why we are doing what we are doing. Every little word of appreciation and excitement from someone wearing our label gives us an adrenaline rush. As long as we make work fun and believe in the simple fact (deep in our heart each of us know) that MadSan TinZin is the power of four, everything falls in place effortlessly.

The design world is a clutter, you have found your own space in a short time... what do you think are your selling points?

The Indian design segment has matured with many young talented designers joining the rank daily. However, the reason why our buyers support us and what our clients appreciate in us is our uncompromising attitude towards quality, workmanship and love for hand embroidery.

How far is your NIFT background useful in your work? Do you think fashion education in the country is on the right track?

Well now that we look back on our NIFT years, we thank our stars for not only being trained in an institution like NIFT but also because that’s where the four of us started our journey together. You might have a creative mind but until and unless what you sketch on paper can be transformed into a concrete product and you have the ability to present it, it really is of no use. That’s where NIFT comes in. It gave us the technical knowledge along with deep insight into textiles, art history and most importantly taught us to work under pressure (that’s what we enjoyed and remember the most.) That’s exactly what our profession is about. The present scenario of fashion education is being driven by a surge among young people who see fashion as a viable alternative to other conventional careers. This trend has lead to the mushrooming of fashion schools.

Though some of them provide good exposure and opportunities, we can also find several institutes which do not concentrate on quality and professional education and fail to prepare students for the tough competition they are about to face.