Since launching in 2008, Suno has evolved from a quirky, print-heavy collection dedicated to supporting artisan communities in Kenya to a design-driven darling of the fashion community, at least in the U.S. Suno has twice been a finalist for the Vogue/CFDA Fashion Fund, in 2011 and 2012, and was nominated for the CFDA Swarovski Award for Womenswear in 2012, winning it last year.
This story first appeared in the March 26, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The collection is still ethically minded and partially produced in Kenya, but, as designers Max Osterweis and Erin Beatty learned, it has its limitations. “About three years ago we hit a wall with growth within the workshops we were in [in Kenya],” said Osterweis. “We needed to get a little more serious about our production.”
It’s paid off. The LVMH Prize puts Suno on a much larger platform than the previous awards for which it’s competed. “Julie Gilhart mentioned the competition to us and it just seemed like a really great opportunity, not just for the prize but for the exposure to a European marketplace,” said Beatty.
Suno is carried by 70 retailers globally, and Osterweis estimates that about 65 percent of the company’s sales are domestic with the balance spread throughout the world. Ready-to-wear remains the primary focus for the label, which has a few accessories collaborations, including sunglasses with Linda Farrow and shoes with Nicholas Kirkwood.