Monthly Archives: April 2019

  1. Is It Denim or Is it Jean?

    Denim and jean have been around for centuries, and although their reign has been (somewhat) toppled by activewear, they still remain an essential part of the fashion world. But many still find the two terms confusing. Which one is jean and which one is denim?

    Jean fabric came from Genoa, Italy and was originally a blended twill of wool and cotton. Jean was very similar to cotton corduroy (also a famous product of Genoa). It was worn by the sailor of Genovese Navy force since they needed a fabric for both wet and dry. In 1800, André Masséna (one of Marshals of the Empire appointed by Napoleon) had his troops placed in the city and ordered supply from Jean-Gabriel Eynard, a Swiss banker who migrated to Genoa to start a business in the city. One of the supplies Eynard furnished the troops was that twill fabric dyed in blue called "bleu de Genes" ("blue from Genoa") and you guessed it, the term "blue jeans" was born.

    Meanwhile denim hailed from Nîmes, a city in southern France. Its full name is "serge de Nîmes" or simply "fabric from Nîmes." It began as a blend of wool and silk, making the cloth very durable and sturdy. These characteristics mean the first denim fabrics were difficult to sew, since it required industrial-strength needle. They were also expensive, since wool and silk weren't (and aren't) as abundant as cotton. The original denim was created by the shepherds in the Cévennes mountains (just northwest of Nîmes) since they needed durable clothes to work in.

    It was around the 17th century that denim fabric and jeans fabric intersected. Some argue that denim (made of wool and silk) were coarser yet considered of higher quality, more expensive, and more durable sibling, whilst jeans (wool and cotton) were lighter, still durable, and less expensive. Nobody really knows why blue (or more accurately indigo) was used, perhaps because the jean fabric was intended for the Genovese Navy force. Weavers in Nîmes were said to have tried to reproduce jean, but found a different way to do it. Maybe this was the reason why denim fabrics were also dyed indigo.

    Jean became an essential textile for working-class people in Northern Italy so much so that a painter nicknamed The Master of the Blue Jeans (perhaps a student of Caravaggio) created ten paintings depicting scenes with lower-class and working-class people wearing blue fabric. It was most likely Genovese blue jean because it was cheaper than the French denim. Shown here is one of the paintings called A Frugal Meal.

    Cut to the modern US fashion history, both denim and jeans had been constructed using 100% cotton, and the first name that comes to mind when we talk about denim is Levi Strauss, and for a good reason.

    Strauss (along with Jacob W. Davis) was credited to have given birth to denim and jeans.

    In 1851, Strauss migrated from Germany to New York to join his older brother who owned a dry-goods store. He then heard about the San Francisco Gold Rush and moved there two years later to start a West Coast branch of the business.

    A few hundred miles away in Reno, Nevada, Jacob W. Davis, a Russian-American tailor, was making heavy duty textiles such as tents, horse, blankets, and wagon covers made from cotton denim supplied by Strauss.

    One day, a customer asked Davis to make a pair of work pants for her woodcutter husband, so Davis created a pair of pants using heavy-duty cotton duck (a type of woven pattern different from denim and jeans). This became a success and by 1871, instead of cotton duck, he used Levi's cotton blue denim for the pants which featured seams on the fly and pockets reinforced with rivets. In fact, the demand for the pants were so high (thanks to miners and workers wearing them during the Gold Rush) that Strauss and Davis patented the pants (along with the copper-rivet reinforcements and orange double stitching). The two men became business partners. Davis ran the manufacturing division of Levi Strauss & Co. whilst Strauss continued to experiment with different fabric variations and styles. The styles were given numbers, including the popular Levi 501s.

    For reasons unknown, although the fabric that Strauss and Davis used was denim, the style (of the pants later became known as jeans.

    And the confusion began.

    Some have argued that "denim" refers to the fabric whilst "jeans" refers to the style of pants, and by extension, all of jean pants are made of denim, but not all denim is jeans. However, now we know that both denim and jean are indeed fabric. Both denim and jeans are wrap-woven twill.

    In the past, denim was constructed using wool and silk, whilst jeans used wool and cotton. Nowadays, they're both mostly 100% cotton. The difference is in the dye, or rather, the time of the dye.

    True denim uses two yarns: one color (most likely blue), the other white, meaning it has already been colored before being woven.

    True jeans fabric, on the other hand, whilst also uses two yarns, is dyed after the fabric has been woven.

    The only sure way to find out if your piece of clothing is denim or jeans is to see both sides. Since denim is warp woven using two yarns of different colors, one surface will feature one color whilst the other will have another. Because jean is dyed after it's woven, both surfaces have almost the same color.

    Now that you know which one is which, it shouldn't destroy your love for denim and or jeans. In fact, these two fabrics are so ubiquitous and essential at the same time that they are so versatile. Make them your own by adding embellishments like Swarovskis or patches. Wear them even when they're ripped because shredded jeans show character. Wash them over and over again until they're faded because there's history in them. Wear them on top of your athleisure or activewear or dresses to complete a casual look.

    One thing for sure, don't exercise in jeans. We have activewear for that.

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  2. How to Maximize Your Paid Membership Perks

    Image by Pexels from Pixabay

    Costco has it, Amazon has it, Disney has it, even your local grocery store has it.

    There are certain perks that a membership provide, but are they really worth it? Read on to find out what benefits you should look for in a membership and the best ways to maximize them.

    Tangible: Discounts

    Whether it's percentage off the merchandise or free shipping, discounts are possibly the main advantage you should be on the lookout for when signing up for a membership deal. But this really depends on how much you're spending to make that membership fee worth the discount.

    For example, Mono B's VIP membership is $45 monthly, and you automatically get 5% merchandise discount. This means you'll need to spend at least $900 every month to get your membership money back.

    Although discounts are the most tangible and measurable perk in memberships, there are other benefits that you want to keep in mind when you decide whether you should pay to become a member or not.

    Tangible: Processing Time

    Let's face it: in this world of instant gratification, speed is something we can all appreciate. Amazon Prime thrives with its free two-day shipping (although there have been numerous complaints from Amazon fulfillment workers and package drivers). Theme parks like Disney World and Six Flags also offer paid services that let you cut lines.

    Mono B's VIP membership also offers a fast track service that pushes your order to the front of the line, and depending on how big your order is, you can cut the processing time in half and have your order ready in a few hours instead of two to three business days.

    Tangible: Exclusive Section

    More leg room, wider food selection, better service - these are what we get when we upgrade to business class or first class. Of course they all come with a price.

    Many websites have a special section that can only be accessed by certain members. This ensures the exclusivity of the club.

    When you become a Mono B VIP member, the VIP exclusive category is unlocked and you can preorder items months in advance. (The preorder listings in the non-VIP category becomes live one month prior to the estimated arrival date.) This way, the Mono B VIP members can schedule their looks with ample time and not worry that the preordered item will have been sold out by the time it's available for general customers.

    Intangible: Status

    There are also "benefits" one can get from paying for this VIP status. One of them is, well, status. This feeds our ego and for some people, it's nice to be acknowledged and belong to a certain group or class.

    Intangible: Sense of Security

    Another "benefit" is sense of security. Although we're not using the privileges, they're still there when we want them. This explains why people have gym memberships but rarely use them. All the equipment is there when we need it. So when we feel motivated enough to go, we can use it. The question is, when are we determined enough to get up and work out? (Best answer is always, as numerous studies have shown that being active and working out have been linked to better health and longer life.)

    Two final aspects to think about when purchasing a membership is the starting date and cancellation policy.

    Some memberships, like Mono B VIP, starts the billing cycle on the first of every month. If you start your membership on July 25 without purchasing at least $900 (and therefore maximizing your 5% discount) within six days, when your membership gets renewed on August 1, you will have paid one month for nothing. (Alternatively, with Mono B VIP membership, you can also get three months VIP deal where you can get three months VIP membership and only pay for two months.)

    Cancellation policy is also just as important. Don't get suckered into a membership and end up not using it with no way to cancel it. Some companies are notorious for trying to give discounts to keep customers from cancelling their subscriptions. Some companies offer a supposedly easy cancellation, with totally different reality.

    The Mono B VIP membership only requires three months of commitment. If you feel you probably won't get the most of it, you can cancel the membership by phone or email before your membership gets renewed on the first of every month.

    Now that know the advantages of getting the VIP treatment, you must ask yourself (and those whose opinion matters) if you do need to become a member.

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  3. Celebrating World Book Day with the Empress of Fashion

    Not many people have enjoyed the success, reverence, and respect in the fashion business like Diana Vreeland.

    Fashion designers took cues from her as she dictated which way fashion should go. She worked for influential fashion magazines such as Harper's Bazaar and Vogue.

    Where Chanel came from in France is anyone's guess. She said one thing one day and another thing the next. She was a peasant - and a genius. Peasants and geniuses are the only people who count and she was both.

    It's no surprise that for World Book Day, Mono B selected two works by Diana Vreeland.

    The first one is D.V., her iconic autobiography.

    The book was first published in 1984 and has since become a sartorial bible for those who wish to know what made the original Empress of Fashion tick.

    Of course the book is not without criticism. Some readers have pointed out how Vreeland was absolutely out of touch with reality and how the book could benefit from braver editor so it wouldn't sound like (uncensored) trains of thoughts.

    If you'd rather see gorgeous (and we mean gorgeous) pictures of Vreeland and her life and times in the fashion world, look no further than the scarlet-covered Diana Vreeland: An Illustrated Biography by Eleanor Dwight. Fun-fact, red is Vreeland's favorite color. Her living room is a crimson celebration, decorated by the great Billy Baldwin (the interior designer, not the actor). Complete with exclusive personal materials from Vreeland's personal collection and a preface by Vogue's André Leon Talley, this book makes a handsome (and inspiring) coffee table addition.

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  4. Mother's Day 50% OFF Ground Shipping!

    Mono B would like to give something back to all mothers.

    Starting Monday, April 22 until Sunday, April 28, all online orders that are being shipped out will receive 50% off on ground shipping charges.

    If you'd like to expedite a shipment, we'll calculate the price of 50% regular ground shipping and subtract that from the expedited shipping you choose.

    Example:

    Ground shipping fee is $18. If you choose ground shipping, during the promotion you will only pay $9.

    If you choose expedited shipping and the expedited shipping fee is $29, then we'll cover the $9 and you'll only need to pay $20.

    Below are the terms & conditions:

    1. Offer valid for all in-stock items and shipments that we receive between April 22 and April 28, no minimum or maximum order amount.
    2. Offer valid for either UPS or FedEx Ground shipping (using Mono B's account) to 48 contiguous US states only.
    3. VIP customers receive both 5% merchandise discount and 50% ground shipping discount.
    4. No coupon code needed.
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  5. The Undying Trend of Animal Prints

    The animal print trend began in the late 1960s, but centuries before that, real animal skin (and fur) had already been a mainstay amongst the wealthiest.

    The association of animal skin and fur with the good life continues and carries over into the modern world, which explains its endurance.

    When Jackie Kennedy was photographed wearing a leopard fur coat by Oleg Cassini, the demand for fur coats skyrocketed and 250,000 leopards were slaughtered in the name of fashion. (To his credit, Cassini then stopped using real furs and only used faux furs in his creations. He even developed Evolutionary Fur, a durable and low-maintenance synthetic fur fabric).

    As the world becomes more and more progressive and more fashion houses have pledged to go fur-free (starting with the revolutionary Stella McCartney), animal patterns from real fur and skin have been hand painted or digitally printed onto fabrics.

    This opened new doors to creativity in the world of fashion. We see animal prints from coats to ties to phone cases to, of course, activewear.

    Each animal print allows the wearer to channel their characteristic. Fast and active? Wear the cheetah. Sleek and dangerous? Go with leopard. Slinky and smooth? Get the serpentine. Unique and graceful? Choose zebra.

    The digital age (and creativity) has also made it possible to mix and match the colors, and now you can wear dark brown and navy leopard print or blue snake print to your next outing.

    One thing for sure, no actual animals were harmed in making these prints, meaning you can show your adoration for these animals without guilt.

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  6. How the Word "Athleisure" Came into Being

    The activewear industry has been coming out as the winner from year to year. According to a study called Future of Apparel released by NPD Group in mid 2018 called Future of Apparel, activewear is reponsible for 24% of total apparel industry sales. There is also significant rise in the global activewear market, with a study by Report Buyer concluding that activewear's compound annual growth rate is expected to be 6.8% and total sales reaching USD 567 billion by 2024.

    Some have argued that activewear is just a fad, and that denim is experiencing a resurgence, but so far, the activewear market has yet shown no sign of slowing down.

    So how does athleisure come into play?

    "Athleisure" is a portmanteau that combines "athletic" and "leisure" and it means exactly that: apparel that can be worn to gym, dance class, HIIT session, or yoga whilst being functional (and fashionable) enough to wear as casual clothes. To our knowledge, the earliest record of this term being used for the first time was in the March 1979 issue of the now-defunct Nation's Business magazine. The magazine ran a cover story on the sports industry called "The Games People Play - and Pay to Watch" by Tony Velocci.

    The whole athleisure (a new term that has popped up) market is in a state of tremendous growth," says John Gehbauer, the (Sporting Goods Manufacturers Associations') director of advertising and promotion.

    Four decades later and the activewear and athleisure markets are still going strong, with haute couture houses releasing their own polyester-spandex or nylon-spandex blend designs, whether on their own (such as Versace), or as a collaboration (Adidas by Stella McCartney). Celebrities, such as Kate Hudson, Beyoncé, and Kanye West, also recognize the potential the activewear market has.

    Unlike stiff and restrictive denim, activewear (and athleisure wear by proxy) is comfortable and multifunctional. Countless of articles have been written on how to pair leggings with high heels and knee-high boots to make them work-ready. Backed by the booming of fitness industry, activewear and athleisure wear are gaining market and momentum. After all, who wants to squeeze into a pair of denim jeans after a sweaty workout? (Check out Mono B's Athleisure Tops category for a selection of coverups.)

    Some have even argued that activewear and athleisure wear are the clothing of the future, at least in our science-fiction culture. Spandex blend has been the go-to fabric since superheroes started being depicted on film. Gersha Phillips, the costume designer of Star Trek: Discovery notes that she uses spandex depending on how she wants to shape the costume.

    On a side note, Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, was so convinced that spandex was the true fabric of the future, that he insisted all of the costumes were made in spandex. This became a challenge because spandex retains odor, and if you're wearing the incorrect size, it can look so unflattering and cut circulations (if it's too small). So always remember to wash your spandex-blend items and wear the correct size.

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  7. Just What is Undertone and Why Does It Matter (Or Doesn't)?

    Ever wonder why you get a lot of compliments when wearing certain colors and lots of bizarre stares when wearing others? Most likely that has to do with your skin's undertone, and whether it's warm, cool, or neutral.

    Don't confuse skin tone with undertone. Skin tone is the color on the surface (fair, medium, or deep). Undertone is exactly like the name: the color under the surface. Unlike skin tone, under tone stays the same, even if the skin tone changes.

    Warm undertone colors: yellow or gold. Cool undertone colors: blue, pink, or red tints. Neutral undertone colors: a mixture of both warm and cool colors.

    Let's look at the ways you can find your undertone.

    Vein check.
    People with cool undertone have blue or purple veins. Those with green veins have warm undertone. Colorless veins or veins that match the skin color mean neutral undertone.

    Jewels rules.
    This one is perhaps the least objective of the test, but try it out anyway. If gold looks more flattering on you, that means you have warm undertone. Silver? Cool undertone. If you can rock both colors, then you have neutral undertone.

    Paperwork.
    Place a white paper by your skin. If your skin looks yellowish or greenish, that means you have warm undertone. If your skin appears rosy or reddish, then you have cool undertone. If your skin looks grey or ashen (not ashy), you most likely have neutral skin tone.

    Absolute or Off.
    Just like the jewelry test, this one's also somewhat subjective. If you feel you pull off absolute black or absolute white clothes better than off-white, ivory, or tan clothes, you're cool toned. If you wear the opposite better, then you have warm undertone.

    Hair and Eye.
    Those with warm undertone tend to have blond, red, brown, or black hair (with yellow or red glow) with brown, amber, or hazel eyes. Those with cool undertone usually have blue, grey, or green eyes with blond, brown, or black hair (with blue, grey, or purple glow).

    Tan or Burn.
    After spending the day out in the sun, if your skin turns golden-brown, you have warm undertone. If you’re more prone to sunburn, you have cool undertone.

    Try as many tests as you can to find a definitive answer, and once you know which undertone you have, you can determine which colors work on you, including lipstick, foundation, hair color (if you want to dye your hair), and clothes.

    Here's a little cheat sheet to navigate Mono B's collection to find out which colors work for certain undertone.

    Warm undertone: Coco, mustard, ivory, rust, olive, coral, cream, peach, amber, yellow, gold.

    Cool undertone: Blue, sky blue, all shades of grey, lavender, white, mauve, magenta, fuchsia, hot pink.

    Neutral undertone: Tomato red, yellow, pine, green, jade, dusty blue.

    Any undertone: Burgundy, eggplant, plum, teal, medium teal, black, neon yellow.

    However, take all of this with a grain of salt. Life is too short to limit ourselves to a handful of colors just because someone tells us to. Experiment and go crazy.

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  8. Plus-Size Activewear Business Is on the Rise

    The demand for plus-size activewear (and athleisure apparel) varies from state to state, but it exists. After all, according to the latest Plunkett Research, 68% of American women wear size 14 or above. And if that's not enough to incentivize business to start growing their women's plus-size activewear collection, the 2016 sales of US womens plus-size apparel market is USD 20.4 billion (against USD 643 billion of global womenswear market sales).

    Mono B Clothing completely understands this demand. That's why we came up with a wide range of active leggings and athleisure tops and bottoms for local and independent business that cater to plus-sized women.

    But enough about money.

    What Mono B truly wants is for everyone to have a healthy life and lifestyle, and truth be told, body size can matter when it comes to health. Extreme body fat percentage can have serious health complications, whether it's underweight or overweight, and this also depends on a lot of factors, including your age, location, and stress level. Whatever your fitness level or fitness goal is, we have to start somewhere, and most of the times, plus-size active items are either too shoddy, too garish, or too expensive.

    Mono B fills in the gaps in the affordable (and trendy) plus-sized activewear market with products that range from XL to 2XL (or 1XL to 3XL for athleisure apparel).

    The plus-size activewear range comes in both Mono B core line (perfect for up to medium-high impact activities such as spin classes) and Mono B RED line (for more low impact activities such as walking). With many options to choose, from subtle and solid colors to poppy and trendy prints, plus-sized Mono B leggings are crafted using four-way stretch fabrics to ensure comfort and durability for your customers to move and exercise in.

    As an independent or local business owner, you can do more by pushing your community to move more, all in a stylish and chic ensemble.

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  9. How Ribbed Accents Became Synonymous with Moto Fashion

    Mono B celebrates Moto fashion with its line of biker-inspired wear. From ribbed mesh to pleated accents to rebel-chic denim jackets, activewear, and athleisure items in both regular and plus-sizes, add a dose of fierceness in your wardrobe. But how much do we know of this biker-inspired trend?

    #MotoFashion by Mono B Clothing

    The creation of the motorcycle in the 19th century not only made traveling easier, but it also started the new moto fashion trend. When it first came out, motorcycles were expensive and only those in the upper class could afford it. Then as the designs were improved, motorcycles became the go-to vehicle for policemen.

    Leather seemed to go hand in hand with the motorcycle world, especially at the time when synthetic substance had not been discovered yet, and even then, leather was relatively easier and cheaper to procure. From the dawn of the motorcycle era, leather has been used for protective gear such as boots, gloves, and helmets. Then leather jackets became la mode du jour thanks to Marlon Brando's The Wild One. His gorgeous looks and the iconic Harley Davidson marked the beginning of the moto fashion craze. Everyone wanted the Perfecto jacket he wore in the movie and The Wild One arguably became the original outlaw biker film.

    Marlon Brando in The Wild One

    Many articles have been written about the history and evolution of moto fashion and leather jackets, but what remained a mystery was its connection to ribbed or accordion accents.

    It seemed the first-ever recorded piece of fashion with these accordion accents came from Maison Balmain, the French luxury fashion house. It's still unclear whether it was originated by Cristophe Decarnin (2005 - 2011), Olivier Rousteing (2011 - present), or any of their predecessors. Rousteing has stated in many publications that Decarnin is one of his biggest influences and inspirations in fashion.

    Regardless, Balmain released its biker jeans collection featuring ribbing details on the ankles and pockets. The idea behind this accordion-style accents is still unknown, but they appear to mimic the natural creases around the ankle and elbow areas of denim or leather outfits. The pleated details expand and contract and minimize the wear and tear of the garment in those areas, even when the piece of clothing was not constructed using stretch material. Another theory is that the ribbing accent (and their placement) hide the kneepads or other protective gear worn by motorcyclists.

    Gal Gadot as Shank in Ralph Breaks the Internet

    One thing for certain, the biker trend became a smash hit, as evidenced by the myriads of fashion houses, both haute couture and ready-to-wear, launching their own biker-inspired apparel. The accordion accent no longer stays around the joint areas, but have migrated to different parts as well, including the shoulders. The accent itself has changed. It's now grown to include quilted details, not just pleated.

    The success and longevity of the biker-inspired look are largely attributed to iconic stars such as Brando and James Dean, and contemporary celebrities like Gal Gadot. Fans have even pointed out that Gadot seems to always wear some kind of leather jacket in almost all of her movies so far, including as Shank in Ralph Breaks the Internet (check out those ribbed denim pants too). The image that this biker or Moto fashion look conveys is clear: it's badass.

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