PARIS, France — A couple of years ago, when she was pregnant, Asha Mines, kept asking herself: “How will I dress this new person?” She couldn’t find anything she liked. “There was a big gap that needed to be filled,” she says.
A few weeks before she gave birth, Mines, who cut her teeth as creative assistant to Rick Owens, started sketching the clothes she wanted her child to wear.
Fast forward two years and Mines has launched her own children’s brand Jungera — named after her son Era — consisting of t-shirts, sweaters, hoodies, dresses, leather jackets and one-of-a-kind knitwear pieces, all made with natural fabrics. “Why would you want to put your kids in synthetic fabrics? Why not favour nature?” she says.
“For the current collection, I was very influenced by men’s antique clothing. Lots of the jackets were inspired by ancient Asian coats, because I feel like this way of dressing was more comfortable — and for kids, it has to be all about comfort,” she explains “In kidswear, lots of the clothes are just grown-ups clothes reworked and lots of details are completely unnecessary. Between age zero and three, kids don’t care about pockets for example.”
The collection is largely produced in Poland and Turkey, but the knitwear pieces are handmade in Iran, Morocco and Turkey. “In Iran, it’s my assistant’s grandmother [who makes the pieces]. She got really excited that her granddaughter was working in fashion and told us she wanted to work with us,” says Asha with a large smile. In Marrakech, she works with a local support organisation that helps put women with personal issues back to work, a group she first heard about from Rick Owens.
Soon after studying arts and choreography in Los Angeles, Mines went to work as a creative assistant to Owens, doing research and development with a focus on accessories, fabrics and image. After several years at the label, she decided to take some time off, “first to be a mom, then to launch Jungera.” Today, she works with Owens in a freelance capacity.
“I’ve worked with Rick for a decade. He is very supportive of the project. Some of the pieces are made with his stock material. The leather is from him, the cashmere too,” says Mines.
But Jungera is as practical as it is directional. Everything is double-lined, pre-washed and reversible, which makes life easier for busy parents. Prices range from €70 to €200 (about $90 to $260 at current exchange rates) for most of the collection, including leather jackets, and between €160 and €180 for the handmade knitwear pieces.
For this month’s Spotlight, Mines has created a custom logo for BoF “inspired by the minimalism and graphic works of Sol Lewitt. The downward facing triangle and circle represent the mother and child."
As for the future, Mines wants to open her own store in Paris and aims to broaden her collection to target children up to the age of eight (the current collection is only for newborns and children under two). But she’s in no rush to expand.
“What I learned most from Rick is how he never compromised his vision for sales. For Jungera, the idea is to keep working with small productions units. I want Jungera to stay exclusive, not out of snobbery, but because I want quality over quantity,” says Mines.
At BoF, we wish her the very best of luck.