5 Minutes With... Ramesh Nair Of Moynat
You can probably call Ramesh Nair a journalist’s dream. He never minces his words, nor cares about giving a PR-approved answer. Yet he is soft-spoken, self-deprecating and completely sincere at the same time. This is the second time I am meeting the creative director of French trunk maker Moynat. The first was in 2012 (in fact, he remembered the year, not me), in Paris, at the then-only Moynat store and atelier on rue Saint Honoré, just a year after luxury giant LVMH acquired the brand. Half a decade later, we meet again in the newly opened Singapore boutique. This time, Moynat isn’t a brand just stirring from slumber. It is a powerhouse that is midway through worldwide domination. But I am glad to see that Nair has not changed one bit.
Why was Singapore chosen as the location for Moynat’s first store in Southeast Asia?
Ramesh Nair (RM) One of our first customers was from Singapore. When Moynat reopened in 2011, we had the Americans and the French buy from us. Then we had two Singaporean men who each bought a bag.
How did the brand gain such a cult following of both trendsetters and fashion insiders?
RM A good designer looks for things that are out of the common sphere. When I come to Singapore, I have to find out what’s going on in the design, fashion and art scene here. It’s just part of who we are. We’ve also had counterculture designers such as Rick Owens and his wife, Michele Lamy, coming. That is one of the ways you can measure your success in the beginning—to see how you are accepted by the people in the know.
You once said: “I hate collaborations. It’s what you do when you have no ideas left.” What about your work with Pharrell Williams and Mambo?
RM I haven’t done collaborations. I’ve done dialogues. Collaborations are when two people bring something and end up with a hybrid product. If I work with Pharrell, I don’t put his music into a Moynat bag. We talk. I listen to Pharrell’s ideas and then I do exactly what I want. With Mambo—perhaps that was more of a collaboration. He gave me his art and even the canvas he covered the floor with, but never knowing what it was for. But I would never put a Supreme logo on my bag. It will never happen.
How many artisans do you have now?
RM We started with one, now we have over 30 to 35 full‑time craftsmen.
How many bags are created in a year?
RM I have no idea; I just know that we don’t make enough. When the stores tell me there’s a waiting list, it’s a sad problem. People think it’s chic to say, “I know a salesperson who can get it for you.” I bought and waited for a watch for two years. But towards the end of the first year, I asked myself, why did I even bother? Rather than make someone wait for a bag, if they had it, they might buy something else, no?
How is the archive building going?
RM When we started Moynat, the archives had just three trunks. I’m still building the archives every day. I bought a bag last night online from a Christie’s auction. It’s often thought as a waste of time and money. But for me, I’m the first one after 100 years to take on this brand. That makes a difference. These are foundation stones. Without the archives, it’s like trying to draw without a pencil.
Moynat, #01-10 Takashimaya Shopping Centre, Singapore 23872