Husband and wife Jeff Halmos and Lisa Mayock have teamed to launch a new women’s graphic T-shirt and sweatshirt company called Monogram. The duo will be selling their designs exclusively online at their web site, monogramstudio.com, which goes live today.
Halmos and Mayock, CFDA members who have several fashion awards between them, are no strangers to the changing nature of the fashion industry. Halmos was a partner in the company Shipley & Halmos, the men’s and women’s wear firm that closed in 2015, and before that was a partner in Trovata, while Mayock was the co-founder of Vena Cava, the contemporary company that she and Sophie Buhai started in 2003 and sold to LF USA in 2012. Mayock stayed on two years and left in early 2014.
Asked why they decided to go into business together, Mayock said she and Halmos were actually trying to avoid going into business together, since they were also raising a family together. (Mayock gave birth last week to the couple’s second son.) But they started talking about this concept nine months ago that stems from Mayock’s love of vintage and their shared appreciation of art and design, and decided to give it a whirl.
“We wanted to create a real destination for graphic T-shirts,” said Mayock, who said she personally has a “pretty large collection” of graphic T-shirts and sweatshirts. “They’re conversation starters. I’ve worn them my whole life. Most are vintage, and I’ve had trouble finding something that hit the same note. We decided to make our own.”
Halmos explained that they’re creating all the original artwork and slogans, and emphasizing typography. Most of the references are from the mid- to late Seventies and early Eighties. “We’re looking at books, magazines, record covers and general advertising during that time period,” said Halmos. Everything is made in L.A. factories, and the couple develop their own fabrics and washes. T-shirts have four different bodies, such as classic fit, French cut and two oversize, drapier models. Sweatshirts come in three different styles, including a shrunken boy model and a hoodie. T-shirts retail from $60 to $70 and sweatshirts are under $100.
Although they both have backgrounds in wholesale, they said they wanted to go exclusively online in order to get feedback from customers in real time. “One of the challenges from wholesale is getting feedback quickly and accurately,” he said.
The couple sees a larger market for graphic T-shirts, beyond wearing them with jeans. “On the site, we’re not showing it with jeans. We’ll style it will some cool suit or pencil skirts or metallic silk trousers,” he said. They’ll have a blog on the site that will show T-shirts worn in ways people might not imagine.
“It’s a great way to take an outfit and add a graphic T-shirt and add a wink-wink personal touch,” added Mayock. She said a lot of women with cool style will wear a sweatshirt to an evening event. On the site, they will show the products themselves, with six different views of the way it’s styled.
As for how they will divide responsibilities, Mayock said she will handle the product-based piece of it and will work with the factory in Los Angeles and the fabric mills. Halmos will handle the social media part, the business structure and the marketing.
Halmos said they’re “kind of winging it” when it comes to how many styles to produce. “We can turn it [production] around once we get going. There’s no exact formula,” he said. He added that they haven’t figured out a first-year volume projection yet. It will depend on what catches on.
At the launch, they will offer 27 graphics on four T-shirts and three sweatshirt bodies. Among the graphics are a big red strawberry; the words, “Casual Encounters” (which looks like a zipper), and women’s intertwining legs, with the slogan, “Are You a Real Man?”
Mayock said they will be seasonless collections and they will update the site with new products every two months or so. “We’re not following a traditional calendar,” she said.