February 23rd, 2006
This week, Omiru caught up with Alfredo Malatesta of Materialust, an upscale travel-inspired T-shirt line launching on March 15. Read about Alfredo’s inspiration, his travels, and his distaste for horizontal stripe sweaters…and check out Materialust goods next month at Fred Segal, Lisa Kline, American Rag, Intuition, and Scoop!
O: Tell me a little bit about what Materialust is about.
Materialust is right now a contemporary upscale t-shirt line. The core
concept behind it is an emphasis on international travel. People
obviously have an emotional connection to traveling and different
cities around the world they’ve gone to in the past. The mantra is
“Choose your destination.” For each season, we’re going to introduce
new cities and a lot of special artwork that we have dug up and
licensed. Some of the stuff goes back to the 70s and even the 30s. The
artwork comes from everything from vintage cocktail napkins to travel
brochures and pamphlets, a particular event that took place in that
city, and mementos from different cities around the world. We try to
really create an experience through a t-shirt by introducing beautiful
artwork on a great fitting t-shirt.
Omiru: How did you get started in fashion design?
Materialust: I came from the music business and a company called Trunk Ltd. With Trunk Ltd, the whole concept behind it, with the rock artwork, it’s almost parallel to the music business. The fashion business, to me, is just an extension of the music business. At the end of the day, I don’t really consider myself too much of a fashion designer. I’m kind of more like a brand developer or in marketing.
O: What does Materialust mean? How did you come up with the name?
M: It’s really similar to the word “materialist.” A friend of mine said “materialust” one day, and I thought “Wow, that’s such a great name for a line” because it doesn’t necessarily mean materialist; it’s more of a lust for material things or the appreciation of great material things.
O: What’s your philosophy behind Materialust?
M: The philosophy would be developing something that consumers are going to have an emotional connection to. For example, one of the cities we’re going to is Tijuana. The second they see that name or see artwork from there, that might strike some kind of a chord with them. What we’re creating in terms of the product itself – because I’m so West Coast minded and I’m originally from the Southern Hemisphere, it’s all about comfort, great fit. That’s what I’m always aiming for.
O: Have you done a lot of traveling and have you been inspired by the places that you’ve gone?
M: Absolutely! I love traveling and that’s what gave me the inspiration to start the line. When I was in the music business I got a chance to do a lot of traveling. And being from South America myself, I’ve been exposed to so many different cultures. The US is truly a melting pot with lots of different cultures. People for the most part have an appreciation for other cultures, and Materialust is a way for us to introduce some really cool things from faraway places that people may have never seen before.
O: If your house was burning down and you could only save one item from your closet what would it be?
There’s this t-shirt I got on the last trip I took to Peru. I
hiked the Inca trail and at the end of the journey bought a t-shirt
that said “I survived an Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.” I
would keep that shirt not only for the really cool artwork, but also because of its emotional value. I
actually got engaged on top of Machu Picchu so it has a special
meaning. (Altogether ladies: Awww!)
O: What clothes have you worn in the past that you’re ashamed of?
Too many to pick out. Probably any and every sweater that was given to
me by a family member. Any horizontally striped sweater I ever owned is
a bad one.
O: What’s your favorite t-shirt from the collection?
M: The ones that are really fun to work with right now are the ones with artwork from Tijuana. There’s a lot of beautiful stuff from the 40s and 50s. It’s really colorful and it’s stuff that would be really difficult for any graphic artist to replicate. We have some artwork from a matchbook of a whorehouse in Tijuana. The way the artwork was laid out and printed on that matchbook is so cool because it’s messed up unintentionally…it’s really rad.
O: Which stores will carry your t-shirts?
M: For our first release we’re very lucky to have gotten into such amazing stores such as Fred Segal, Lisa Kline, American Rag, Intuition, Scoop. We’ve got a bunch of A-list accounts.
O: When does it launch?
M: March 15.
O: Oh, and price point?
M: T-shirts retail between $50 and $60.
O: Are you thinking about expanding and doing things other than t-shirts?
M: Oh, absolutely. First of all, we have the entire world to play with in terms of artwork. We will forever be able to continue releasing artwork from different cities. But at the same time, I’d like to have the brand cover everything from outerwear to accessories. Things that are complementary to the international travel lifestyle but also have a contemporary edge to it. I don’t want it to look too much like stuff out of a traveling store at the mall. We’re going to recreate the vision of what travel inspired pieces are supposed to look like. I’d also love to do a kids line.
O: Anything we missed?
M: Our website (www.materialust.com) should be up within the next week or so and it’s going to be a fun little experience to check out. Keep an eye out for the line because it’s going to be continuously changing, and there’s always new surprises coming out with the artwork. We don’t really try to repeat too much, so the shirts are kind of a limited edition.