The founders, for starters, made the move to Atwater Village from Brooklyn to be closer to the company’s manufacturing facilities. The Los Angeles area is where all of its fabric sourcing, screenprinting, cut-and-sew and other points of production are based.
The company, launched as a direct-to-consumer T-shirt brand with a vintage vibe, is still small with Jeff Halmos and his wife and cofounder Lisa Mayock the only two running the business. They work with freelancers and outsource services such as shipping and warehousing.
Earlier this year, the company dipped a toe into wholesale for the first time with Barneys New York. In a few weeks the brand will begin shipping to specialty stores, such as TenOverSix and Fred Segal in the U.S., in addition to some doors in Japan, Korea and Australia.
“We’re keeping the distribution fairly limited and just making sure that it’s the right kind of store that we think would be able to sell the product really well,” Halmos said. “They’re going to be buying primarily bestsellers and our site will still have exclusives. Our focus remains on continuing to grow the sales on the site.”
Sales in Monogram’s online shop tripled from year one to year two and the company’s hoping that momentum continues, he said.
Expanding into wholesale was part of an organic shift that occurred, but the brand had set out to be only direct-to-consumer.
“What’s really nice about being a very small company is that you can move into where you see opportunity,” Mayock said. “Earlier, we had done some store events and been a part of a pop-up where we just noticed this trend of in-person stuff selling phenomenally well. When people got to touch and feel and try on the clothes in person, it sold out very quickly every single time.”
As wholesale and the rest of the business grows, the company’s assortment has kept pace with Monogram delving into new categories. Where, at the initial launch, the company positioned itself as the go-to place for unique graphic T-shirts, the line is slowly being built out to be something more. That’s included getting into dresses and solid T-shirts for women, along with an introduction in the summer of men’s sold only through the Monogram site.
“Some of it was [driven] just based on feedback,” Mayock said of the expansion. “The solids [shirts] and men’s we were getting a lot of e-mails from people.…The dresses were a fun extension for us. We asked ‘OK, what would a graphic T-shirt look like if it was a dress?’ So we wanted to explore that and in L.A., it’s T-shirt dress weather year-round.”
Even with the expansion, the graphic T-shirts remain the company’s bread and butter and core of the brand. It is, after all, where Monogram got its start. To that end, there’s a new graphic T-shirt it’s releasing Thursday in partnership with Swing Left in a bid to promote awareness around the midterms.
The expansion is enough to keep the self-funded business busy enough into next year.
“I don’t think we’re going to offer a huge rollout of more products,” Halmos said. “I think there’s plenty of traction we can still build. We just launched men’s. We just launched dresses. As we end this year, we have the holidays and you go into next year, it’s just a matter of offering more within those categories. It’s just the tip of the iceberg here.”