Vietnamese quintessence: Leinné and Mimi Minh Nguyen - The touch of the senses

As a designer and sustainable artisanal brand crafted by the hand of a skillful family-owned workshop with a 25-year history, Leinné is known for its meticulous and delicate designs, telling the story with sensibility. On the talk with Mimi Minh Nguyen, the founder of Leinné, we understand more about her journey and aspiration in presenting the beauty of Vietnamese craftsmanship to the world.

Founded in Paris in 2016, the journey of Leinné continued in Vietnam at the end of December that year, it must not be easy to develop an eco-luxury artisan brand as a young person with many ambitions. Can you share about the predestined relationship with Leinné? What were the challenges in the early stages?

The idea of establishing Leinné probably came from traveling, germinated long before it became reality. The experiences from the voyage have motivated the dream of bringing something from Vietnam to new lands. I highly believe that a hat is not only a vital item while traveling but also contains an indescribable feeling when recalling the memory.

I founded Leinné at the end of 2016 in Paris and brought the idea back to Vietnam in December. “Leinné” is the combination of “leisure” in English and “inné” in French, with a multicultural background, a passion for living, and bringing experience. There are many fashion brands in Vietnam, yet I want to create a lifestyle brand that harmoniously blends the hands of craftsmen and natural materials. 

Initially, the development of the brand has encountered many challenges, mostly to build a strong foundation so that it can deliver the brand idea, the process of management in-store and communicate with the online customers, or having specific client profiles,...

I still consider myself quite lucky, since my working process is gradual, and Leinné does not follow fast fashion trends either. We are grateful that our clients understand and appreciate the core message that Leinné wants to deliver.

After years of forming and growing, can you tell us some milestones that Leinné has achieved, thereby helping the audience to understand the change in every aspect?

Leinné store was located in an old French apartment in Saigon in January 2017. After 8 months, I held the first-ever event, as an opportunity to warmly welcome new customers and beloved friends. At this point, I assumed that this is the time to treat this project as something serious. Before that, I did not put too much attention to this project, claiming that this was a short-period project that I did in Vietnam, before returning to Paris and working for an agency. So, after the events, I nurtured the idea to build a completely Vietnamese-based brand and aim to bring it internationally.

In 2018 and 2019, I focused on orienting the collection and sales channels, specifically wholesalers and retailers. I got my first order from the Kapok stores - a chain of young designer retail stores in Hong Kong and Asia - in 2020. This marked a milestone for me and our 25 years in history workshop, as this was the very first order sold under the name Leinné, and became the first OBM order to target the premium segment, not OEM or ODM.

In the near future, I want to see every Leinné design on display in many splendid stores at different locations in the world.

We have also just had the first Bespoke Production order in 2021 with another great client.

What are the details that express the characteristics of Leinné craftsmanship? Among these, which are the main elements that truly make the DNA of Leinné?

As an eco-luxury and artisanal brand with the foundation of a family-owned workshop with a 25-year history in Saigon, precision has always been Leinné core value. The materials were carefully chosen from nature and there are certain details that only skilled craftsmen could make were the two elements that have always been with the atelier since the day it was founded.

The unlimited inspiration of Leinné comes from the relationship between nature and fashion. Through Leinné designs, eco-friendly and natural materials have combined and told the story of the senses.

According to you, the relationship between nature and fashion is the relationship for Leinné’s never-ending inspiration. This must be the key point in creating a sustainable brand?

From sketches into actual designs, Leinné has kept in mind the environmental consciousness. This is not only in the material itself but also in the thoughtful and economical use of the package. Therefore, putting creativity and skillful hands of the craftsmen are our priority, with the purpose to create the “touchpoint” of Leinné for customers to discover.

With each design, Leinné also takes care of customer experience, by giving our post-purchase service, including reshaping and ironing the hats and bags through Leinné spa service.

“The link between the experience from the outside world and inner feelings create the definition of how Leinné started and takes inspiration from” - Can you explain more about this?

The story of Leinné begins with the link between our sensibility with the outside world. To me, behind every design is the story of feelings, love, and the idea of sustainability.

By looking at a Leinné design, there is more to tell rather than just the aesthetic of it. Is the simplicity of the materials, thoroughly selected, and remains a natural feeling.It seems like behind every collection/design is a specific story that needs to be told. Do you mind sharing your favorite one?

Yes, we take experiences and sense as our core idea, so I took inspiration from every journey, or the wonderful people that I have met, and portrayed it into the design.

As in Words of Love, it was a great experience that I have had through moving and living in different cities. Love can be expressed differently in each culture, I could feel that some words of love that cannot be translated. Love, in general, is something so great and meaningful.

Or, I have an opportunity to have a chat with a fashionable woman at a fashion store, in which she said that she does not like the color black, since it is too “absolute”. Instead, darker shades like smokey gray or dark blue are her favorites. These colors are closer to black, but they are more original and offer more room to creativity. What she said has inspired me to create the signature colors of Leinné.

Are there any upcoming plans? Please tell us a little about it?

Coming with the new name of Artisanal Fashion Co for our company, we are oriented to cover both producing, wholesaling, and retailing under multiple premium brands, to promote the beauty of Vietnamese craftsmanship and the art of precision.

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