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Photo Courtesy Linda Monaskanian
Interview

LINDA MONASKANIAN

03.18.13

Knit and jersey line 19 4t is the brainchild of Los Angeles based designer Linda Monaskanian. The Otis alumna uses the finest Japanese textiles to create high-quality casual wear with comfortable, yet refined silhouettes. Both Monaskanian’s eye for design and her experience representing high profile contemporary brands such as Milly and Tracy Reese are catapulting 19 4t toward further changing the industry’s idea of casual wear.

Interview

Can you tell us about the name of your collection?

Linda was the most sought out name for a female in the 1940s. Representing the designer was key when looking into branding the name. Numbers were more intriguing rather than letters and so “19 4t” was born. In order to help represent the line both as a knit and jersey line, the “40” pronunciation was converted to a “t” for t-shirts.

The line incorporates ‘quality basics.’ Is it also inspired by the 1940s time period? How do you reconcile designing a collection of casual, ready-to-wear clothing with an era-association that does not signify anything casual?

The line holds no correlation to the 1940s in its aesthetic, rather only in the name Linda. I made sure to replace the end pronunciation in “19 4t” with the letter “t” in order to avoid confusion.

Do you have a design background?

Yes, I attended Otis College of Art & Design.

What made you decide to launch a line of basics?

19 4t was created on the mindset of feeling confident and well put together, even if it meant throwing on something like a sweatshirt. We seem to follow the leader in our thought process and creating this line is meant to break that.

Do you find there is a lot of competition in your market from brands with heavy advertising dollars, like T by Alexander Wang?

Not necessarily. I believe if the right idea combined with quality enters the marketplace, people appreciate the product and begin to follow the brand. In a sense, having brands such as T by Alexander Wang help your brand grow when the consumer begins finding similarities and comparing your product to household names.

What makes 19 4t stand apart?

There is nothing like it in the marketplace and I look at the brand as a new niche in the making. You don’t find sweatshirts or similar products in that genre that make use of high quality imported fabrications along with attention to sewing.

How did you begin working with fabrics from Japan? In what way does that benefit the collection most?

I am a fabric driven designer. My inspirations derive from the quality and intricacies of fabrics that stand out and are scarce in the marketplace. Many people appreciate the creative mindset that the Japanese offer, yet never seem to shy away from the Europeans. I found my interest only lied in the Japanese from the beginning. In turn, the collection thrives on knits that catch the consumers’ attention. The times I get to connect with buyers, there is always an importance placed on the love their consumers have for the brand due to its fabrication.

When did you develop your passion for Japanese vintage?

It was very early on that I followed Japanese designers such as Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo. It was their use of Japanese fabrications–mostly amazing usage of wool/polyester blends–that kept me forever interested. My instinct was to find knits that compared to the quality of what my favorite designers put out from season to season. After some time, I came across mills that specialized in creating knit fabrics on vintage machinery that is solely reserved to the Japanese.

What are some of the influences you will find from Japanese vintage pieces over American vintage sportswear?

I don’t find much that is influential from either Japanese or American vintage buys. The designs are strictly conceptual, yet the fabrics that are loomed on vintage machinery are what hold inspiration.

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