For those of you who miss late 'aughts labels Vena Cava and Shipley & Halmos, say hello to Monogram, a brand new line of graphic t-shirts and sweatshirts. Today, the two co-founders of the aforementioned CFDA-beloved lines (and most adorable fashion couple ever) Lisa Mayock and Jeff Halmos are debuting their collection of everyone's favorite wardrobe staples with a modern, yet retro-inspired twist that's just so, well, them.
The professional announcement comes at a pretty momentous time in the duo's personal life, too: Their baby son arrived a few weeks early over Memorial Day weekend. "When it rains it pours," says the new mom, who skipped maternity leave to discuss Monogram with Fashionista over the phone, along with a paternity-break-forgoing Halmos (and the newborn considerately sitting in quietly).
Mayock, who handles the design and product development responsibilities behind Monogram, found initial inspiration from her father's stellar '80s-era t-shirt collection and her own archive of vintage tees. "I found them to be a great conversation starters and just a great foil if your outfit feels a little bit too perfect," she says. But then she hit a wall in finding additional ones she liked, so the couple decided to combine their design talents and fashion acumen to make their own tees and sweatshirts. Plus, the duo's common interests worked together seamlessly to create Monogram's signature aesthetic. "Our personal interests align in that we always connected over graphic design in general," explains Halmos, who oversees the brand's business and marketing. "Our house is filled with lots of records, books and really great posters that stem from the ‘70s and early ‘80s."
Both Mayock and Halmos have already experienced success in designing and running their own contemporary fashion brands. But creating a line of original art-emblazoned basics offered new opportunities — starting with developing their own fabrications and washes in Los Angeles, where the collection is manufactured.
"That’s been a huge learning curve and has been super fun," says the former. The tight collection, which runs under $70 for t-shirts and under $100 for sweatshirts, features seven styles in a range of cuts and washes and 27 cheeky graphics. The silhouettes and washes range from a 100% cotton French Cut t-shirt with a higher neckline and a longer, skinnier fit to a Classic Fit tee inspired by one of Mayock's own favorite vintage go-tos.
Mayock and Halmos, who both focused on wholesaling with their former respective clothing lines, are also enthusiastic about the direct-to-consumer sales approach via the line's shoppable website, Monogramstudio.com. "[It was] like a game of telephone when you’re trying to find out what the customer really thinks about the product because you have to hear from the store manager who might have heard it from one person and tells you that's fact," explains Halmos, who's looking forward to hearing direct feedback from and interacting with the Monogram customer.
Plus, graphic t-shirts and sweatshirts featuring bold colorful original art and sassy catchphrases are perfect for the online medium, whether popping off of a computer screen or your iPhone. For imagery inspiration, Mayock and Halmos looked to a book of Instamatic-shot action photos by fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez, and the cool girl styling on the models have clearly been infused by Mayock's signature touch. But there's one ubiquitous wardrobe staple you won't be seeing anywhere on the site.
"While we think that a customer is going to look great wearing these t-shirts with jeans — I’m sure I will wear these t-shirts with jeans, sometimes — I think that there are a lot of other really unique and cool women that are dressing using t-shirts and sweatshirts in a nontraditional way," she says. "That was really important for us to capture the way of dressing that we see out on the street that really didn’t see anywhere at retail." So think: skinny belts, berets, a slouchy three-piece suit and pleated lamé palazzo pants.
The Monogram website will also celebrate the t-shirt muses who wear their graphic tops in unexpected, "elevated" ways with interviews and photo spreads. Considering that Mayock and former design partner (and now-jewelry designer) Sophie Buhai have been known to rally influencer friends, including Lizzy Caplan and St. Vincent, in support of Vena Cava, we're excited for the Monogram lineup. And Mayock confirms she already has a few pals lined up for the launch of the blog. As for the future: "It's going to be a surprise," she hints.
But Halmos wants to point out that Monogram muses stretch beyond the bold name It Girls to include cool regular women who style their t-shirts in interesting ways, like your impossibly hip local barrista or that straphanger wearing an outfit you're about to copy, of all ages and backgrounds. "We want to feel like it's a scattering of people that all have different styles, but all have something in common [in] that they love t-shirts and wearing them in interesting ways," Halmos says.
"And that they have something to say with their personal style," Mayock adds, without skipping a beat. "I think a graphic t-shirt is just a democratic item."