An online store featuring a curated collection of vintage items and independent designers, MATE Vintage is one of these Instagram crushes that became a full blown love affair, in & out of our closets. We caught up with founder & all around rad babe Kayti O’Connell in time for the launch of her new vintage-inspired, handmade t-shirt line and this pretty summer lookbook featuring the soulful Lera Pentelute.
LF: What inspired you to open up an online store and share your finds with the world?
KO: After I graduated college, I moved to New York City for the summer with the intention of figuring out what I wanted to do with my life… I spent my time in the City going to flea markets and vintage shops. I started photographing my new finds and blogged about each outfit. I loved everything about the entire process and when I moved back to L.A. I decided I wanted to continue and develop my passion.
LF: Explain to us what MATE Vintage is all about.
KO: Our Mates love to have fun, aren’t afraid to take risks, a little hippie-chic and always rock n’ roll influenced. We are very selective of our vintage finds and which brands we feature in the Shop. Additionally, we created “Collabs with a Cause,” in which we co-design exclusive items for our customers.
LF: Tell us a bit more about that.
KO: “Collabs with a Cause is” one of my favorite aspects of MATE. I seek out designers + brands that inspire me and we co-design exclusive items for our customers. In turn, a percentage of profits are donated to charity. We have a very exciting Collab in the works – stay tuned!
LF: Obviously, you have a knack for vintage finds, how did that lead to this week’s release of your very own MATE label ?
KO: I am taking everything I LOVE about vintage tees and applying it to the label. I LIVE in my vintage muscle tanks and really wanted to re-create the perfect vintage inspired tee. As much as I LOVE vintage, supply and demand can be very strenuous. I wanted to create an item for our customers similar to their favorite vintage tee, sans an old bikers’ B.O. (which often comes with vintage hunting)!
LF: What should we expect from MATE the label?
KO: Our first collection and lookbook, titled “No Bad Days,” are inspired by desert road-trips, late nights, moonlit bon fires, whiskey-drinkin’ rebels, and adventures with girlfriends! There is a lot of attention to detail with our tees. Each tee is individually processed by hand. The dye process is very unique and every item is pre-washed to give it the vintage vibe. They are super soft; you will want to live in them! I hope to expand upon the muscle tank and develop more styles soon!
A percentage of online sales will be donated to the ASPCA, an organization that works to rescue animals from abuse, pass humane laws and share resources with shelters nationwide.
LF: What do you feel sets you apart?
KO: MATE is a very small-scale company that is 100% driven by passion. We focus all of our energy into making each component of the company the best that it can be. We believe in quality over quantity and seek to enable customers to make an impact through their purchases.
LF: Who do you admire in the fashion world?
KO: I am inspired by brands that are 100% made in the USA and/or give back to charity. I think it is important for companies and consumers to be knowledgeable about where their products come from and how their product/purchases impact the environment. Fashion and consumerism are not going anywhere… why not try to strike a balance and try to make a difference through purchases.
LF: Favorite item in your closet right now?
KO: A vintage Harley Davidson tee that my boyfriend picked out at a local thrift store. I wear it at least once a week.
LF: Three words to describe your personal style…
KO: Relaxed, moody and a little rebellious.
LF: When you’re not busy curating vintage finds, what would we find you doing?
KO: I recently moved to DTLA. I have been spending a lot of time exploring the Arts district, cruising local farmer’s markets and hiking around Griffith Park. But I pretty much live at flea markets.
Model: Lera Pentelute
Photographer: Derek Wood
Hair: Lauren Paez
Makeup: Deb Chung
Styling: Whitney Cox
Video: Bryan Carr
Direction: Kayti O’Connell