Channel Your Inner 1970s Babe With Monogram's Vintage-Inspired Tees
Two designers who have mastered easy-to-wear yet totally pulled-together style merge and make a baby. I mean, technically Jeff Halmos of Shipley & Halmos and Lisa Mayock of Vena Cava made two babies, but in this case I'm focusing on their fashion offspring, not their two adorable sons. The power couple recently joined creative forces to launch Monogram, a collection of vintage-inspired tees and sweatshirts that have even the casual clothing phobics lusting after the line.
What makes Monogram unique is both its extreme focus on perfecting a vintage fit and feel (the made-in-LA line prides itself on products washed to soft, expertly worn perfection) and its clever, often tongue-in-cheek graphics, like an abstract design with the text "Nudes" or a simple yet to-the-point "Bullshit" in small, unobtrusive print. The label is influenced by sexy 70s muses (can't you just picture Bianca Jagger in this french-cut Maximalism tee with a fitted suit or Lauren Hutton in this loose-fitting Let's Pretend tee tucked into some wide-legged trousers?) as well as beloved pieces in Mayock's personal vintage stash.
Normally Monogram sells its styles online only, but locals looking to add one of the chic tees or sweatshirts to their wardrobe can also stop by Echo Park's high end vintage boutique Collection this Saturday (2pm to 5pm) when the line stops by for a trunk show. In anticipating of that event, I chatted with Lisa to learn a little more about which babes inspire her brand, what style you're most likely to find her in right now, and how she and husband Jeff come up with their artsy, cheeky designs.
Monogram totally channels all the 70s babes. Who are some of your fashion inspirations from that era?
We love all things Jerry Hall, Gilda Radner, Anjelica Huston, Paloma Picasso, Cher, Pam Grier, and Blondie, to name a few.
You both come from fashion backgrounds — how did you settle on graphic t-shirts as a collaborative venture?
Monogram was born out of our shared love of graphic design, vintage, and a gap we noticed in the market. Perfect vintage t-shirts can be hard to come by (and are often pricey), and when we started looking around and doing research we noticed it was really difficult to find shirts that were new but still hit that same sensibility — we couldn’t find anything that felt inspired by art and typography. So we decided to make it ourselves, developing our own fabric and washes, creating the MONOGRAM silhouettes, and brainstorming graphic ideas.
How do you select art for the shirts?
Jeff and I do a lot of brainstorming about graphic ideas and they come from inspiration culled far and wide; I love receiving design emails from Jeff with subject lines such as "chic urinal." Some of the graphic ideas we make ourselves but we also partner with graphic designers and illustrators — we're lucky to have some really talented friends! Our graphics are meant to make a personal statement. There are textual graphics, illustrations or in some cases a mix of both and we always shoot for them to be witty, colorful and cheeky, but also subversive.
Clearly, you guys have an appreciation for vintage. Any fave pieces in your own personal collection?
There are many! Two of my favorites include slogans that are probably not fit to print here, but thats why they're great. One of my other go-to shirts is from a religious summer camp in the 80s. The shirt is super thin and threadbare, and you can barely read the graphic, but starting at about hip-level the bottom part of the graphic is perfectly preserved. Someone loved this t-shirt so much and only wore it tucked in!
What style are you most into at the moment and how do you wear it?
I am really loving our "Bullshit" t-shirt and am so glad that it has been one of our best sellers! It’s simple but mighty. I think it really allows wearers to make a statement and use their voice. We’ve seen people posting it on social media to express their feelings about the work day, weather, or dare I say, a decision our country made a few weeks ago. In terms of styling, I love a graphic t-shirt under a suit. I recently scored an amazing 80s Jaeger pinstripe version on Etsy that I have been pairing with all of my tees.
Can you hint at any upcoming designs or additions to the line?
Our immediate plan with Monogram is to continue to make graphic t-shirts and sweatshirts with an artful point of view, and change the way women think t-shirts should be styled. We’re looking forward to introducing new graphics and silhouettes down the line and maybe even venture into different product categories. Stay tuned!