international day

  1. A Brief History of Red & Pink

    Lola (from Kinky Boots) perhaps has the best line when it comes to the color red. It is the color of desire, and thus, love. Red is the shade of choice for a restaurant's interior because it stimulates the customer's appetite. There's still an urban legend that goes around saying red cars get ticketed more often than cars in other colors.

    Back in the seventeenth century, one of the original red dye came from an insect called cochineal, a little bug that now lives mainly in Peru and the Canary Islands. When Spaniard invaded Mexico in the 16th century, they saw the Aztecs had vibrant fabrics dyed in red, so the European invaders stole the Aztec's discovery of the cochineals. At that time, there had already been other sources of red dyes, but nothing was as pigmented or able to produce red hues that stayed longer on textiles.

    The Spaniards harvested the bugs, dried them, and sent them to Europe. For a long time, the bugs were one of the best-kept secrets in the dying industry because the European importers couldn't tell if the pellets they received were berries, bugs, or minerals, and the Spaniards were tight-lipped about how they procured them.

    However, in 1869, the synthetic red dye Alizarin was discovered. This dye was the first natural dye to be produced synthetically (in nature, this type of red dye was extracted from madder root). And thus the cochineal industry was upended.

    Fun fact: did you know that the red dye in your food and or cosmetics may have come from dried cochineals? The demand for natural ingredients has resurrected the need to harvest the cochineal bugs, and apparently the dye from cochineals is safe enough to put near the eyes. Check the product's ingredients. If they include carmine, cochineal extract, or natural red 4, then that product was made using cochineal bugs. But not to worry, vibrant-red sweet potatoes are now used to replace the bugs as a source of red dye.

    But back in the sixteenth century, the cost of red dye so high that only the rich and well-connected could afford it. One of the most famous fans was Louis XIV. Not only did he wear garments in red, but he also painted his heels scarlet. According to historian Philip Mansel, the gesture of painting heels meant that the nobles never dirtied their shoes, and that the red color meant the wearer was "always ready to crush the enemies of the state at their feet." Mind you, this is the same Louis XIV who famously said, "It is legal because I wish it."

    Fun fact: although the current pope, Pope Francis, has chosen to wear black shoes, traditionally, popes had always worn red papal shoes. The red shoes symbolize Jesus Christ's blood when he was whipped on his way to being crucified, and of course, when his hands and feet were pierced on the cross. Many popes decided to forego this tradition, but Pope Benedict XVI restored the use of the red papal shoes.

    Another shade of red that's just as popular, is pink. Nowadays, pink is a girl's color. This is evident in Barbie's hot pink color identity and the iconic pussyhats (initiated by Krista Suh and Jayna Zweiman) that first made their appearance in the US' 2017 Women's March.

    However, this wasn't the case in the mid-1700s. in Europe, both male and female aristocrats, wore pink because it was considered a luxurious color that symbolized wealth, class, and privilege. In fact, Madame de Pompadour, Louis XV's chief mistress, loved pink so much that in 1757, the French porcelain manufacturer, Sèvres, named a new shade of pink, Rose Pompadour.

    Back in those days, children of both sexes were dressed in white, and pink was assigned to the boys because it was thought to be close to red, a color associated with masculinity, and had military undertones.

    In the mid 19th century, men started wearing darker tones, leaving pastels to the women, and thus pink became a feminine color. This feminization was also attributed in part to the color's proximity to the naked female body.

    The Nazis saw this color and applied it to their coding system, where gay men in concentration camps had to wear a large pink triangle, intended as a badge of shame. These gay men were lumped with rapists and pedophiles, who also wore pink triangle badges.

    In 1950s postwar America, pink has generally been associated with girls, whilst blue with boys. "Society decides what colors mean," said Valerie Steele, editor of the book Pink: The History of a Punk, Pretty, Powerful Color, and director of The Museum at New York's Fashion Institute of Technology. "When that particular divide was made, it reinforced the perception of pink as a frivolous, because of its association with women, who have been traditionally looked down upon."

    But the color pink has been reclaimed. The pink triangle has now become a powerful symbol of gay pride. Rihanna came up with a pink Fenty x Puma collection that features items for men. Pink is punk, as declared by The Ramones and The Clash.

    But as punk as pink (or P!nk) is, this color is still considered a variation of the red hue. Therefore, just like red, pink (and its counterparts like peach, fuchsia, and cantaloupe) are the colors for Valentine's Day.


    Photos:

    Swimsuit (sold as a set): AS142-Tomato-Red
    Activewear (Mono B GREEN, sold separately): AT8004-Cantaloupe (sports bra) & APH8007-Cantaloupe (highwaist leggings)

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  2. Last Call for November Orders!

    Our ecommerce team and showroom staff members are taking a much-deserved Thanksgiving break on Thursday and Friday (November 28 and 29).

    Orders that are placed after 10 AM PT on Wednesday (November 27) will be processed the following Monday (December 2).

    If you'd like your order to be expedited, you can leave a note as you're checking out to let us know when you need this by. We'll call you (with a 213 number) to confirm the expedited rates if you want (just make sure you pick it up, as there will be a delay in processing if we don't have your confirmation).



    Alternatively, if you want us to expedite your order without confirmation, we can also do that by letting us know to just ship (in the comment section).



    Based on our experience, FedEx is more reliable than UPS or USPS when it comes to expedited shipments. Since we're in the Holiday season, we'd recommend using the direct signature option for your package to minimize the risk of it being stolen.

    Expedited shipment will cost more than regular ground shipping.

    When you're placing an order on the website and you're using a credit card or debit card as your payment method, the system will only validate your card (by doing a test charge of $0.01 and then voiding it right away). We won't charge your card until the order has been packed and ready to be shipped so we can verify if the order is complete or not.

    Once we have the box's dimensions and weight, we can determine the shipping cost.

    Your card will then be charged the dollar amount of the merchandise and shipping.

    That's our Thanksgiving/Black Friday/Cyber Monday announcement! We wish you a peaceful Thanksgiving weekend and a successful Black Friday and Cyber Monday!

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  3. Why You Shouldn’t Wear White before Memorial Day

    You may have heard the idea that we shouldn't wear white after Labor Day and before Memorial Day. We've scoured the Internet and here are the reasons not to wear white before Memorial Day:

    1. Nothing.
    2. Nada.
    3. Zilch.

    In all fairness, some people did (and do) not wear white between September and May. And in all fairness, there are some practical as well as totally classicist reasons that may or may not have been true.

    Memorial Day is generally accepted as the beginning of summer, whilst Labor Day marks its end. (Shop Mono B's #MemorialDay curated collection).

    Valerie Steele, the fashion historian, curator, and director of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology comments that "There used to be a much clearer sense of re-entry [between the changing seasons]. You're back in the city, back at school, back doing whatever you're doing in the fall - and so you have a new wardrobe."

    But exactly how this fashion rule appeared is murky.

    Seasons Change

    One explanation is the seasons. White (and its ilk such as ivory or ecru and other pastel colors) reflects light and heat. This is why in summer, when the sun is super bright, wearing white is such a life-saver. This was especially true before AC was invented.

    "Not only was there no air conditioning, but people did not go around in T shirts and halter tops," Judith Martin, also known as the etiquette columnist Miss Manners, tells Time. "They were what we would now consider fairly formal clothes." Meaning, people walked around in blazers and shirts and skirts or pants. Wearing white was not only accepted - it was a way to survive.

    When summer ends and rain starts and the streets become muddy, people opt for darker colors because dirty doesn't show that prominently on dark-colored clothes. What's more, dark colors absorb light and heat, a win-win solution to both keeping warm and not dirty-looking.

    Clash of the Classes

    Another supposed reason that gave birth to the no-white-rule is elitism. Panama hats and light-colored linens give out leisure vibes, and leisure is a luxury that a lot of the working class (those not in the upper class) can't afford. "If you look at any photography of any city in America in the 1930s, you'll see people in dark clothes," says Charlie Scheips, author of American Fashion. These are the working class, hurrying off to their jobs.

    In the 1950s, as the working class earned more money and the nouveaux riches tried to elbow their way into the upper-class society, the old elite imposed certain rules to keep these newly minted rich people away. And yet, the nouveaux-riches crowd wanted to fit in, and so they played the games of the table manners and no-whites-in-certain-months.

    But again, many of the fashion rules are meant to be broken, and we've seen a lot of bloggers telling people to not wear leggings with certain shoes or jackets or shirts. And nowadays, although white and bright clothes are a tad more difficult to maintain and wash than their darker counterparts, there is almost no reason to not wear white all year round.

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  4. 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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  5. 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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