Sustainable Fashion Doesn’t Always Mean New Apparel
Momento Uomo reimagines vintage fashion with a current take on the industry that’s on the heels of a freshly developed sustainable fashion market.
While several brands are taking strides to make new apparel, ethically, from organic textiles to dyeing and redefining standards in the workplace and practices in factories; Momento Uomo is dropping weekly collections in the most sustainable fashion possible – all of its apparel and jewelry is second hand. We sat with its Founder, John James Muller to chat about the new brand and how shoppers can stay stylish and eco-conscious.
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Q: How did you come up with idea for Momento Uomo?
I’ve always had a passion for poking my head in vintage stores and finding incredible, often designer, treasures. Pieces that really stood out in my closet, a space once filled with way too much fast fashion. Before discovering second hand apparel – I was quick to hit up Zara or Topman for a new look, but was constantly disappointed with the quality over time (sometimes just after one wear). I started to pick through my closet and found that my favorite pieces were those found at a second hand shop. I took the leap to “quit fast fashion” about 2 years ago and suddenly discovered an exciting new wardrobe. I’ve spent the last year researching sustainable fashion practices and found a community in second hand shoppers and trailblazers of the eco-fashion lifestyle. They inspired me to build a sellable collection with my ethos of, “why buy new, when we have so much clothing already on our planet?” I wanted to create a brand unlike any other; Momento blends unisex vintage and second hand apparel with the editorial style we have grown to love in the world of fashion from print magazines to social media. We style, shoot and describe all of our pieces, to show our consumer exactly how pieces fit, while removing any stigma associated with second hand apparel.
Q: What is the vast difference between vintage and second hand?
Not everything that’s second hand is vintage. Vintage are the pieces that are indeed from another era. I’ve found some great pieces like Dolce & Gabbana beige tuxedo pants, Maison Margiela cotton trousers – timeless pieces in great condition, that just happened to be donated. Part of the Momento DNA is conducting extensive research to figure out what pieces are from which era. We’ve found some amazing vintage pieces like the chocolate suede fringe jacket we launched the brand with and the vintage Pierre Cardin blazer. Its wide lapel and label suggest it’s from Cardin’s earlier years. Also identifying vintage are designer brand logos, which often change, so we usually start with checking out the label.
Q: How do you keep all practices as sustainable and eco-friendly as possible?
We truly believe shopping second hand is as sustainable as fashion can get; and we’ve thought about each point in our process and how it is possible to live both a modern fashionable life and be eco-conscious. Our one-of-a-kind pieces are thoroughly inspected so we can deliver our shoppers a great product. We launder and dry clean everything professionally at a local dry cleaner that uses organic solvents to lessen our environmental impact and request the items to not be bagged with the typical plastic bags dry cleaners use to cover apparel. We also work with a company called Better Packaging, that makes completely compostable bags and don’t use any additional materials to ship out clothing. So once you get the package, you can either reuse the bag the piece came in or even plant it right in the ground and it’ll turn to dirt over time.
Q: Where do you shop for the pieces you bring into the online store?
I’ve been collecting pieces from all around the world. Aside from vintage apparel and jewelry, one of my greatest passions is traveling. The first thing I do when I step out in a new city is look for vintage and second hand stores. Every different city tells a story through its second hand apparel. In Rome, you’ll find such special italian designers and leathers, while in cities in the Northeast like Boston, Greenwich and New York, you’ll find more classic items like staple blazers and trench coats and in South Florida, you’ll find great linens, trousers and great gear for a boating trip. I love to visit both second hand stores and estate sales, whenever I can.
Q: Who are your inspirations within the fashion industry?
While I find the industry of today to be very saturated; there are indeed great designers and editors that are paving a new way for the conscious consumer. There’s Bode that began with constructing garments using vintage textiles and another great sustainable brand is Nanushka that really channels lifestyle and resortwear better than any luxury brand. Fashion editor, Luke Jefferson Day is the King of high and low – always mixing new designer items with vintage. I also draw inspiration from sustainable fashion writers from Elizabeth L. Cline and Whitney Bauck that are constantly highlighting both the good and bad practices of brands and how we can all shop with our planet’s future in mind.
Q: Who is the Momento customer?
I truly believe our customer is the person looking for a special piece to bring into their wardrobe and keep forever. Someone who wants to make strides at integrating sustainability more into their closet, but maybe becomes a bit lost when entering a thrift shop. We curate, clean and choose pieces that are simply a great addition to any wardrobe. While our focus is highlighting traditional menswear, it’s all indeed unisex. Some shirts and pieces may be womens, but its structure and silhouette is tailored and feels a bit more masculine and fit well within the Momento DNA. There’s such a fine line between gender today. Men are going back to wearing boots with a heel, women are rocking suits more than ever. Our customer is bold and a fearless fashion warrior who’s confident, conscious and thinks (or more so, dresses) outside the box.