Finding the perfectly lived-in vintage tee with that so-very-timely slogan requires a serious scavenger hunt (hello, Rose Bowl!), but you’re not one to settle for fast-fashion rip-offs, either. Retro-cool basics label Monogram was born from the idea that vintage-inspired graphic tees don’t need clichés to make a clever statement, and their latest design is one that’ll inspire us all to join fashionable forces starting now.
Enter the People Power tee ($65), the art-driven brand’s latest style to kick off 2017. Sewn up in Monogram’s signature crew-neck silhouette and screen-printed on faded back cotton modal jersey, the super-soft top was dreamed up in New York but made right here in Los Angeles.
To toast Monogram’s latest launch, we caught up with founders and fashion industry vets Lisa Mayock (formerly one-half of Vena Cava) and Jeff Halmos (previously of Shipley & Halmos and Trovata) to learn more about their label of love and the inspiration behind their newest shirt. Oh, and here’s where we mention that the married designers also have two kids together.
“We’re hoping to do our part to spread a message of human togetherness in an otherwise dark and scary time,” Jeff tells us. “Lisa is actually wearing this to the Women’s March on Washington next weekend.” We definitely dig it.
Read on below to learn more about how Mayock and Halmos met, why they chose to manufacture in LA, their favorite places to shop in the City of Angels, and more, then shop Monogram’s latest collection exclusively on their website.
First, we love a good love story — How did you two meet?
Lisa: It’s actually been a running joke for the last 10 years. I remember the night we first met, but my lovely husband seems to have no recollection. We met the night Jeff won the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund for [his then-brand] Trovata in 2006. I’d never been to a big fashion party, and was extremely nervous — I didn’t know anyone there. But Jeff sauntered over to me and we talked for about 10 minutes. He couldn’t have been nicer. That night I also had a random conversation with Marc Jacobs for half an hour. He was nice, too, but Jeff clearly left a more lasting impression.
Both of you come from designing full ready-to-wear lines. How did your experience at your previous brands shape your approach to Monogram?
Jeff: Lisa and I both have a lot of experience with wholesale through our previous brands — for me, Shipley & Halmos and Trovata and for Lisa, Vena Cava — where we created full lines on the traditional seasonal calendar. The very nature of direct-to-consumer completely shakes up this model and allows us to follow a leaner, more targeted launch cadence. Being direct-to-consumer enables us to build a unique relationship with our customers, receive direct feedback and inspiration from the community, and release new styles accordingly.
Although you’re both based in New York, why was it important to both of you to manufacture in LA?
Lisa: On a personal level, I grew up in LA and my family still lives in Pasadena — so it’s nice to have an “excuse” to go visit. When we were starting the business and were searching for a factory to work with, we found LA manufacturers to be superior in terms of quality and efficiency when it came to t-shirts.
Yes, it may have been more convenient to work with a factory closer to home in New York, but we were passionate about creating the best, softest, easy-to-wear shirts possible and the screen printer, factory and dyehouse we work with in LA were able to provide the quality level we were after.
Your pieces are known for making a statement, and this past election season was, well, full of statements. Have current politics influenced any upcoming designs?
Jeff: Our graphics are meant to make a statement; we think of them as a vessel through which wearers can feel empowered to use their voice. Our goal is to create graphics to inspire women to feel confident, witty and subversive, and most importantly, unafraid to speak their mind.
We’ve been both saddened and angered by the attacks on inclusivity in the current political landscape and are launching a new graphic “People Power” that is meant to elicit a sense of unity among all of us — no matter your race, gender, sexual preference, et cetera.
Who are a few of your favorite friends (famous or otherwise) that have worn your pieces?
Lisa: We are thrilled with the support Monogram has received so far — we’re big fans of our fans! Lena Dunham posted an Instagram of herself wearing our limited-edition election tee on the night of the first presidential debate, which was really exciting, and hopefully inspired some folks to get out and vote. Leandra Medine from Man Repeller has worn Monogram a number of times in some pretty fabulous street style shots.
What are a few of your favorite LA vintage vendors or boutiques?
Lisa: Collection (1282 Sunset Blvd.) is one of my favorite stores; Elizabeth, the owner, has a fantastic eye, is a great curator, and is just a hell of a lot of fun to be around. We actually had our very first in-person event there over Thanksgiving weekend, and made some great Monogram and vintage mash-up outfits on customers. There were clothes everywhere when it was over — it was messy but successful!
Can you tell us what you’ve got coming down the pipeline?
Jeff: Along with some of our favorite graphics to date launching in the first quarter of the year, we have a few collaborations in the pipeline. Stay tuned!