ABOUT MONTE | Q+A
Place Showroom had the chance to sit down with MONTE Designer Dawn McKnight for an exclusive interview. She shared with us how she started off in the fashion industry and where her inspiration for the brand MONTE comes from. Find out why MONTE is produced solely in Los Angeles and what McKnight is doing to positively change industry standards.
Tell us about MONTE's overall inspiration on launching?
I have been in women's fashion retail for over 15 years and always loved clothing, fashion and unique design. I traveled as a young girl and was inspired by different cultures and design and clothing. I come from a family of artists, musicians and actors, so creativity is in my blood.
I have always wanted to design and produce my own clothing line, and after bring in fashion retail for so many years, I saw what women were loving, not loving and wanted. I see what's working and what isn't from other brands, and that inspired me to launch my own.
What differentiates MONTE from other brands?
My own DNA - my love and eye for beautiful prints and colors, and my travel experiences that have influenced that. I love color, beautiful florals, ethnic prints, patterns and quality, and the hand of fabric is also very important to me.
Femininity is very much a part of that and is important to me. Women should never be ashamed or hide their femininity, but live it, love it, flaunt it, use it to make them feel good and show they truly are. I want MONTE designs to lend themselves to providing that for women; when they wear a MONTE piece they feel their best, most proud, confident and beautiful.
Why did you decide to work locally in Los Angeles?
Number one, because I live here, I can be close to my work and keep an eye on production and be an integral part of the process every step of the way. I am also able to monitor quality control and fabric sourcing. If anything doesn't pass QC, it doesn't get shipped.
The second reason I produce locally in LA is because the production is ethical, responsible and respectful. Workers are paid well and respected in clean, safe environments.
Let's talk about the ethical processes. What are the impacts of traditional production and how are you working to change those?
Traditional production negatively impacts the environment and society. The environmental impacts of sourcing and production create a lot of waste, water usage and, in some cases, contamination. The use of toxic dyes and chemicals cannot only be harmful to us, but to the environment.
Traditional production practices overseas are inhumane. They include horrible working conditions and low wages for the individuals. I refuse to contribute to any part of that, and I hope by sourcing and producing ethically, responsibly and respectfully, more designers and producers will do the same.
Who is the girl that is wearing MONTE, and why is she wearing it?
She's mindful. She loves fashion, loves herself, others and the environment. She also cares about what she wears and how it makes her feel. She wears MONTE because it speaks to all of that; its beautiful colors, prints and quality fabrics. It's fresh, feminine, sexy, sophisticated and fun. It's made with attention, care and quality which are all important to her.