SpearTalks: momimomi

Posted on September 7, 2007 Under Fashion

We know that “The T-shirt” is a subject on which many of you have been jaded. Overdone, overproduced, overplayed (and we push the play button as much as anybody), t-shirts today are not the simple product they were five years ago. There’s too many, most of them suck, and, well, you’re almost too over it to care. However, in one of the last posts that you will find on JS about the omnipresent tee (okay, not really, we’re gonna keep it up, but less fervently and more selectively), we’re going to take it back to the beginning, when a baby-soft shirt was something that took years- not dollars- to create; when wearing an awesome tee made you feel arty instead of like a sellout; when dropping out of college to start a clothing company was still a (kinda) legit thing to do.

If you’ve been a JoshSpear.com reader for awhile, you are no stranger to momimomi. If you’ve only been a reader for the last three weeks, you should still be acquainted with the company, as they are one of a scant few clothing lines that have been making their way to our pages for the better part of two years. When I worked in a clothing boutique not so many years ago, momimomi was one of the only brands of tees to be kept, season after season, on rotation. The deal is simple: momimomi has been making buttery tees for a long time, and they’ve been killing it since day one. We write about them because we love them, because they’ve earned it, and sort of because…they started it. So, readers*, in one of the last full-length mentions of “fecking incredible t-shirts” you’ll be hearing on here for awhile, we give you momimomi…

(like everything they do "“ these answers were a collaboration between Danny and Olin, momimomi’s founders):

Joshspear.com: So Danny is a businessman by training and Olin is an Architect. What led you two into fashion design?

Danny & Olin: In the beginning, momimomi was a creative outlet for us. We had corporate 9 to 5’s that didn’t help stimulate our imaginations – so our plan was purely to use the t-shirt as a medium for expression. We didn’t have plans, initially, to enter the “fashion” game….and still stay somewhat on the periphery.

JS: And can we clarify; New York, L.A., Miami; what are your current homebases?

D&O: We were both born and raised in Miami (where Danny currently lives and works); NYC is where momimomi was born and where Olin currently lives and works. And LA is where we conceptualized and produced our first couple collections "“ and still draw inspiration from.

JS: What differentiates momimomi — design-wise, personality-wise, ethically, etc. — from other t-shirt companies?

D&O: In terms of design, we think that momimomi is set apart from the pack in its interest in really open-ended graphics. Nothing preachy and no one-liners. In that sense, we think that the “message” of the brand has always been about this open-ended aesthetic and interpret-able narrative.

JS: It seems like momimomi’s personality is comprised of equal parts humour and intellect….what am I missing?

D&O: We’ve never really put our “personality” into those terms, though it’s certainly a flattering way to think about it. Seems about right, too. We’ve always been pretty serious about the concepts, graphics and overall posturing of the brand, but we certainly believe in a good sense of wit. We also tend towards a clean and simple “language” in our designs and we relish the unexpected, which is often curious, if not funny.

JS: One thing I’ve noticed about momimomi is that its seasons are less likely to reflect design trends than other companies. Is this departure from the mainstream calculated, or is it simply an extension of your natural design tendencies?

D&O: Again, we believe that our relationship to the mainstream, or lack thereof, is a product of “staying the course”, so to speak, with our own mission and interests. It would be silly for anyone who doesn’t live on a remote desolate island to claim that their work is completely unaffected by cultural swings in taste and style, but we try to keep our interests as pure as possible.

JS: I remember, a few years ago, I bought a shirt of yours with two muskets on the front- I think that season also featured a sinking ship…? Since then, it seems like each season has become more focused, like the concepts are increasingly linear and meaningful. Is this true?

D&O: That line, “The Golden Age of Piracy,” was our second official momi line, and it was the second line that was developed along this model of a consistent but open-ended theme. In that line, we researched pirates (as in the rum swiggin’, eye patched, wooden legged ones), but also invited into the line aspects of a more contemporary understanding of “piracy” (one design, for example, was made of 100 copies of the same originally drawn parrot). While the lines since “The Golden Age” have all shared the “overarching theme” aspect, they have maybe started to have more of an explicit relationship to language. Our most recent line, “Tar and Feathers” is a collection of odd pairings where each design started as a coupled phrase (e.g.; Hundreds and Thousands, Smoke and Mirrors).

JS: How have you evolved, as a brand, from your beginning to your current position?

D&O: Momimomi is like the youngest child of a family; it will always be our baby no matter how old it gets. We continue to have high hopes for the little one……

JS: Conversely, what things stay true about momimomi every season, and which things evolve?

D&O: An overarching theme, buttery soft tees, and a super loyal following.

JS: What can we look for next?

D&O: Future Momi TEeA Party installments. Collaborative projects. And, of course, more momi love.

*Hey, neat-o, you made it to the bottom! First of all, high fives for literacy; second of all, be the first to comment and you might just find yourself with a 3-month momimomi TEaA Party subscription!