Favourite: Markoo Studios
Markoo and I have been dying to sit down and chat since their inception just over twelve months ago. Sometimes, good things just have to wait until you’re all in the same city at the same time. Mona Koochek and Tania Martins have been friends for years and now have launched their line Markoo (currently working on their fourth collection) of street wear for hot ladies.
Mona, Tania and I got together on a hot early summer’s day and we talked about being emerging self-funded designers, making the perfect trouser bum and Kim Kardashian. Doesn’t that sound so intriguing and likewise the most natural evolution of a conversation that you feel compelled to continue reading? My job’s done then, meet the girls of Markoo!
What’s in the pipeline?
M: We are currently designing s/s 15 and it’s really looking good and we’re excited about it. We’re coming into our own and it’s our 4th season. Which means it’s only really over a year.
T: We are just finishing production on f/w 15.
M: We are doing the Woman tradeshow in New York. It’s a great show, very tasteful, very nice venue in the Meatpacking. It’s a small French show from Paris and they just added a New York edition so it’s exciting. We are in the studio all the time working we don’t get to hit the parties.
T: Yeah, except last night (laughs).
M: It’s about taking a lot of time and putting it into the creative.
T: The team is expanding; we have a full time sewer now at the studio.
How does the work get split between the two of you?
T: We do all the designing together, we sometimes meet some place outside the studio cause it’s fresh. We finalize on little details and then I start working on the pattern and then we can get our sewer to start the construction.
M: It’s really cool to deal directly and now keep it in house so we can make changes on the fly. Tania has an amazing skill set and she does all the patterns, which I don’t think too many designers, do any more in house. It’s important and then I deal with all the administrative stuff. Shipping has become my nemesis. We are trying to bring everything, all production to Toronto.
When you design do you think of yourselves or a certain girl?
T: We have so many different friends. All our friends have such distinct looks and so we are inspired by all of them. We want to make clothes that are wearable and cool. You are going to wake up and not stress about what to wear.
M: Our goal is to make clothing that girls feel hot in but with a classic aesthetic. You’re not going to stop wearing that in a year, but have that in your closet for year sand years. Every time we’ve ventured away from our instincts we’ve regretted it.
T: So we’re going back.
We just always want to feel comfortably sexy.
M: And that’s the advantage of us keeping everything in house is that we are constantly tweaking. We are like see that bum, we can do better, what do we need to do to make that bum better?
Designing for women by women is so important because it’s made for our figures.
M: That’s been a big part of the process for us. And sizing, which sometimes we size too little because we are so little.
Yeah, the Thumbelinas.
M: Tania will tell me the pattern’s finished and I’m always like we have to make it smaller! And then she reminds me that we are extra extra small.
T: She’s like, “it’s too big over here” and I’m like no it’s not.
M: I’ve gotten way better at understanding this now though (laughs).
But you’ve got sizing down pat for when you enter the Asian market.
T: I know!
M: We’re already in a store there now, in Seoul.
Tania, having had your own store before is that something you’d consider for Markoo?
T: We’ve talked about it, but it’s a whole other beast. It’s more overhead and then you have to staff it, staffing is hard.
M: Location is really hard in Toronto right now. I think our goal is to have a studio/showroom space where people know they can come in and we’ll have overstock for clients to shop and custom orders.
Are you willing to go the way of ecomm and custom orders?
T: I think we should but it’s about getting to the point of having the stock, we’re so small right now so not in the position to take those kinds of risks. Just baby steps.
M: Like Tania said we are funding everything ourselves, so we have no one controlling our purse strings, but you have to be very weary of the risks you do take.
Mentorship is such an important part of being an entrepreneur.
M: yeah all of our friends in fashion are so supportive but no one has the business acumen, the design perspective that Sydney [Sydney Mamane of Shop Sydney’s Toronto www.shopsydneys.com] does. He’s been a really amazing mentor for us.
What brands do you take inspiration from?
T: I don’t follow brands all that much, but I’m always looking at things. I don’t usually pay attention to who the designer is.
M: I think Margiela is always so inspirational. Always clean but also a little crazy like most art. We’re a street wear brand but we love to see that extreme for urban girls. We design for city culture, life on the streets. We’ve always loved Céline, well; Phoebe (Philo) is one of my favourite designers, Stella McCartney…
T: Yeah, and Acne.
M: We both like the sexy just not in an overt way.
M: To me that’s not sexy. I saw the one wedding pic that everyone saw.
T: I didn’t see anything.
Didn’t she have 3 wedding dresses?
T: no way!
Ok, if you guys could design a wedding dress for someone who would it be?
M: well Kim is taken, so now I have no idea (everyone laughs).
T: who would you want to dress in a wedding dress?
M: Tilda Swinton. I feel like she’d wear a suit…
T: No, she wears dresses! But Kate Moss, even though she’s taken.
Well, there’s always the next one.
M: Rock and roll life.
If you had to pick your favorite era in fashion what would it be?
T: That is so hard! Because I really love the 20s and the 40s. I really love the 80s.
But the 20s were what the 80s borrowed from, with the dropped waists..
T: The short hair.
M: The 80s were good sometimes but really bad sometimes.
T: But that’s like with every era.
But there was so much good in the 80s.
M: My boyfriend, who was in his 20s during the 80s, always says, “you guys think 80s fashion was so good, but we all burned our pictures from that time.”
T: But if you were someone in the 80s with good taste you looked good.
Let’s face it any year is a good year for Vogue people.
M: But what about the people who looked like shit in the 40s? There weren’t any!
Yeah, but we have such a romantic view of that time. To me the 40s are the epitome of fashion, sharp shoulders, nipped in waist, structure. The wide legged pants and skirt suits.
T: But I think after the 50s ushered in the sloppier and slouchier tailoring. When you look back to those eras (pre ww2) everyone looked put together because everyone put so much time into their appearance.
I mean they all slept with curlers in their hair!
M: My grandmother still does.
T: I bet Kim Kardashian does too.
How do you guys feel about dressing today?
M: A very good, sexy leather trouser then a cool button down or tee shirt.
Any parting thoughts?
M: You just gotta keep going, good days, bad days. It can be really daunting but so inspiring. Thank god we have each other!
Thank you guys so much for having me!
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