ARIUNAA SURI is a Mongolian fashion design brand. Created in 2012 by Ariunaa Surenjav, the brand embodies luxury fashion, rough and organic design along with noble business practices. By following her true self, Ariunaa has crafted a label that demonstrates the possibility of associating success and meaning. A child’s dream that became reality, a respect for the earth, a research of Mongolian roots. Nowadays, the clothes from ARIUNAA SURI are meeting international standards, along with a proper business model, marketing strategy and public relations.
Background of a fashion designer
Ariunaa Surenjav grew up in a family bridging opposite approaches to reality, sharing time among scientists, shamans, and artists. She lived in Mongolia and Russia before moving to Germany for 13 years, where she earned a bachelor in applied sciences and a master’s degree from the University of Arts in Bremen. Germany was also the dawn of a professional career…
Starting a label
While studying, the young Ariunaa Surenjav assisted designers for the German brand Zero Clothing. Later on she spent two years integrating the design team of Evelyn Brandt – another German fashion house. Her creative spirit was recognized in Mongolia, especially by Gobi Cashmere, which offered her a position at their Ulaanbaatar office. She accepted the offer and, in 2011, came back to her hometown. In 2012, with the experience from the west and the east, the time was ripe to begin her own label.
Things kicked off relatively fast. In its first year her collection was presented to the Berlin Fashion Week, the year after at the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week and the Tokyo Fashion Week. About 10 similar events followed, which brought international recognition to the brand.
Starting a label in Mongolia a decade ago wasn’t easy. At that time people were into high street or high end brands such as Louis Vuitton or Burberry. They concentrated more on the brand name than the designer and I was really scared whether people would buy my brand.
The spirit of the brand
At first, the goal was to make something creative instead of merely settling for another business. Ariunaa’s idea was to create clothes designed to connect elements from Western and Asian culture, making Mongolian traditional elements accessible and popular internationally.
Besides using noble fabrics (see next paragraph), the brand would encourage customers to be conscious of natural preservation. In 2015, a collection called Mazaalai was dedicated to the extinction of the animal of the same name in Mongolia. The hashtag #SaveMazaalai raised public awareness and a large amount of money for the Mazaalai foundation.
Eight years later, the key principles of conservation and creativity are still the brand’s foundation.
In the beginning some even said that it looks like a homeless person’s clothes. But gradually people understood it, especially young people. My customers are creative people, who have a unique world of their own. Those who are into certain type of music, artists, authors.
The origin of the fabrics
ARIUNAA SURI is dedicated to fostering local and sustainable fabrics. While cotton does not grow in Mongolia, different rare wools – yak, camel and cashmere – and several types of leather are available and form the brand’s primary materials. Recently Ariunaa began using animal intestines as well. She says “85% of these leftovers are wasted so I thought we could turn them into something useful”. Going against fashion’s high turnover clothing, Ariunaa puts an emphasis on resistant fabrics to keep the same garments at least 5-6 years.
In 2020 the team varies from 10 to 20 people depending on the season. They select new members not on sheer qualifications, but on interest in fashion and being ready to go the extra mile for a perfectly finished product. The garments are sold in Ulaanbaatar (see the shop in our map), Berlin, Budapest and Vienna.
A new project ASURI BLCK has just started, featuring daily wear garments, accessible pricing and still reflecting the brand’s design identity.
The best future for Mongolian fashion design
In terms of sheer production, the Mongolian fashion design sector can’t compete with mass markets such as China or India. Ariunaa says Mongolian fashion should concentrate on more unique designs, good quality and niche markets. “We can’t beat Italian designs but we can create something unique by incorporating Mongolian influences. Mongolia doesn’t have the human resources to produce on a huge scale, but that is okay. Ten thousand garments overseas is not much but for Mongolia that is a huge number.”
Every single piece of work by the ARIUNAA SURI brand is timeless and classical, made of luxury, high quality materials from Mongolia such as cashmere, leather and hand crafted accessories.