They’ve shaken up Tbilisi and have gone global. Natuka Karkasadze and Anum Bashir of Desert Mannequin are working hand in hand on the creative deck of N-Duo, their joint label based out of the Georgian capital city. This season, they returned with a brilliant Pre-Fall collection, now selling on top shopping destinations such as Selfridges.com and ShopBop.
Better yet, N-Duo has eco-consciousness as a core value and has, since 2018, been taking steps to decrease its carbon footprint by working exclusively using sustainably sourced fabrics produced via mills in Lyon, France.
We’ve interviewed Anum to know a bit more about how it all started, the place of Georgian fashion on the international Fashion scene and the challenges of being eco-responsible.
I was born and raised in the Middle East to South Asian parents. My family lives and is from the US so naturally I refer to myself as a third culture kid. Growing up, I’ve had the immense privilege to be able to travel all over the world – absorbing a lot of what I experienced, which shaped and drove my creativity leanings. 4 years ago, whilst very much thriving in an exciting career in the Art world, I decided to dip my other foot into the fashion industry. It was a long awaited passion/ desire of mine, so finally took the leap to see where it would all end up. I launched Desert Mannequin as a way to chronicle personal style, and marry that to contemporary art, which has been a strong influence in my life.
N-DUO came about in the most unexpected but wonderful way. I was in Tbilisi a few years ago, on vacation with my husband, when the founders of N-DUO reached out to me to meet-up and grab dinner. It was an instant connection. The fast friendship quickly culminated into a professional working relationship too – with both parties keen to design a capsule together. 6 seasons in, I am now the proud and excited Co-Creative Director of the brand with Natuka Karkashadze.
Georgian fashion has taken the industry by storm to say the least – with more and more press/ buyers flocking to Tbilisi’s fashion week each to see what the designers have to offer. Undoubtedly the country’s fashion scene has cemented itself in the genre of urban, alternative, underground, and grungy a la Vetements. More recently we’re seeing breakout aesthetics and styles populating the runways from clean/ classic/ minimal to a more eclectic, feminine and colorful approach as seen at N-DUO.
Both Natuka and myself are very much steeped in nostalgia – growing up in the 90s and perennially regarding icons like Princess Diana and Bianca Jagger amongst our muses. At N-DUO we’re keen to keep the past alive with our patterns and color choices. Our approach to consuming fashion is to “buy once and wear forever!”
I always say, “leave people guessing.” Is it new? Is it vintage? Marrying the old and new, with the feminine/ masculine makes NDUO a very democratic brand in that we continuously strive to cater to all different kinds of style approaches and women. There’s a laid-back boyfriend suit for the girl who wants that, or our signature puffy sleeved prairie dress for the girl who isn’t afraid to take a little sartorial risk. The point of NDUO is for women to have fun with clothes that do quite a bit of the talking for you.
With regards to a favorite, I’d have to say it remains our “Dance Through the Meadows” dress. Season after season people continue to love it more and more.
The more I learn about the industry’s negative impact on the environment, the more I am charged to implement small changes that can have a lasting impact. There is a vast array of sustainable practices that a brand/ business can implement – from artisanal production in ateliers where everyone makes a fair wage, to opting for organic/ non-synthetic fabrics, to measuring/ managing your carbon footprint, to eliminating the use of plastics and non-biodegradable items.
In a world that is obsessed with rapid turnover and consumption, I think there’s something to be said about slowing fashion down and letting products have a longer lifecycle.
We take it one day at a time and want to grow slowly and organically. At N-DUO we’re always striving to create something exciting and interesting that’s fresh for the eyes. We’d obviously love to stock at more retailers globally as we continue to grow, but for now it’s incredibly exciting to see our clothes at places like Selfridges, Brown’s, Farfetch, and Shopbop to name a few.
Discover more about the brand and shop it here