In conversation with Minka Tøth...
Minka Toeth is the brain-child of designer Minka Tøth. Founded in 2011, the Copenhagen-based label focuses on offering sumptuous garments with a significant conceptual meaning. The garments are made with high quality fabrics, mainly natural fibers, making them more comfortable and durable.
A nonchalant elegant, cool womenswear line that makes a strong stylish statement. After four collections down her belt, and presenting at the Copenhagen Fashion Week, Minka has just opened a shop in We Are Selecters Stores and aims to broaden her horizons and introduce her label to a more international audience. We talk to Minka about her, the label and future plans…
Hello Minka, tell us about your background, your origins…
I started showing an interest in clothes and fashion from a very young age. When I was old enough to dress myself, I would take all garments out of my closet and spend days trying them on in different ways and dressing myself up. When asked as a kid, what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would say I wanted to make clothes.
My grandmother used to sew all the time. She made purses and leather garments, and at her care, I’d assist her in every way I could. The memories of this remained with me, as I was always felt fascinated with the material (leather) and when she passed away, I inherited all her leather leftovers and tools.
Every step I took, concerning my education, I always had in mind that I wanted to make clothes someday and start my own brand. I experimented making clothes, all the way up through grad school and high school. After high school was over, and while I was looking for the right design school to attend to, I sewed everyday after work.
I basically taught myself construction, sewing and fitting - making mistakes and learning from them. Once I came across KEA, that back then was called “Hellerup Textile Academy” and I knew that I wanted to have the business angle as well, in my education. I attended the academy from 2004 to 2006 and then again from 2009 to 2011.
After your fashion studies at the Kea Fashion Design Academy, did you undertake any intern jobs? if so where?
In between attending KEA, I first worked as a design assistant at d’ AHrling and later as a buyer and store manager for Samsøe & Samsøe, a huge danish label. I wanted to see what was into buying for a store. Meanwhile, I wanted to educate myself more, and when KEA launched their new top-up PBA in 2009 I applied immediately. During the top-up I had did an internship at a small danish rockabilly label, to experience the everyday life of having a small business as a fashion entrepreneur.
How valuable was that experience for you?
It was valuable in the sense of realizing what a struggle it is to start and run your own business, and of how many different parts of the process you must take care of. And also experiencing how important it’s to have the basic surroundings in place in order to perform creatively. Being inspired is also about finding the right mood and feel that your work is right, so you feel at home -‘ cause you'll be spending almost every awaking moment there for years to come.
What was the most rewarding moment when preparing to launch your brand?
When I made the first sale to a store. That was definitely a turning point. You can get all the positive feedback in the world, but if no one buys your clothing, you're just making clothes for yourself.
Did you receive any support financially speaking?
The vision of the label has always been to go against what they teach you in school. There they teach you to have a business plan that covers every detail, then go to the bank and borrow tons of money with which you can survive the first 2-3 years.
But times have changed. I started with only enough money to buy the fabrics to make sales samples of the first collection. From there I've been developing and expanding in the way my business allows me at the time. But my dream was never to start a huge retail business with pieces sold in every corner. My dream is to create a solid business built step by step the old fashion way.
How would you define your label? and the wearer of Minka Toeth?
As high quality simplicity with an edge. The wearer is someone who likes authentic timeless pieces you don't see everywhere. She knows what she likes, has a sense of style, and knows how to wear the pieces she carefully chooses. She does not want to blend in, but neither to look too dressed up. She goes for the understated boldness.
Do you follow trends when designing? or inspirations/influences?
If I do, I don't do it on purpose. I look at everything around me, the city, the colors the people and their faces, I'm very observant. Somehow everything I see translates into collections - so the process is actually very intuitive for me. The first part anyway.
Having just open a shop in our Stores, what would be the next step for Minka Toeth?
The next step is finding sales agents in other parts of the world so they can help me find new retailers.
From the collection you are now selling in WAS Stores what would be the must-have piece?
The collection has many wearable pieces, but if I had to name one, it would be the “Agathe Polo Dress”. It's such a classic and yet a very cool dress that's not too fancy.
What inspires you the most from Copenhagen?
The people on the street. I can sit for hours just looking at people.
Are you a selector? what would you select as music? and as wearable fashion? and a cause to fight for?
Something beautiful and classic with a twist. If I have to drop names it would be something like Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Bon Iver, Leonard Cohen...
As for wearable fashion I think MINKA TOETH is doing a really good job (smile)
There are so many good causes to fight for… financially I support the fight against cancer and “Doctors without borders”. I could find many more to support, but I guess there are so many that one has to choose.
Photography by Emil Monty Freddie