Please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about what you do.
I’m PJ Monte. I was born and raised in the Hamptons, NY, and currently reside downtown NYC. I started a brand, DON, in about 2007, and currently run and operate the brand full time. I am also launching a media company in the near future with a very talented friend of mine who I have been working alongside for a while now.
What’s life like up in New York City / The Hamptons, as far as music, nightlife, fashion, and popular culture?
The balance between NYC in the winter and the Hamptons in the summer is unbeatable. New York City is always at the forefront of fashion, music, nightlife etc. I feel like NY is always a few months ahead of everywhere else, in regards to all of those things. Its a melting pot of trendsetters and is constantly producing amazing products and ideas if you look in the right places. Growing up in the Hamptons, there is a big influence from the city, yet you also get the experience of growing up in a completely different world, isolated from most things, and by the ocean all year long and in the winter time, it is completely dead out there. So, I learned to research trends, music, lifestyle, etc, most of which was coming out of NYC, and when I got old enough, started going into the city and getting involved in the scene hands on.
What motivated you to start Don Clothing?
I kept up on fashion, culture, art and lifestyle while I was in high school, and was always fascinated by people who started brands which represented their lifestyle and managed to create a following by basically turning their lifestyle into a product and marketing it. I felt like I had something to express and a strong interest in fashion, and could provide some new ideas into that world. So I got out and made it happen. Started printing tees and hustling them out of a duffel bag in a private school in the Hamptons.
Who are some of your biggest influences? What are some of your inspirations when designing something?
My biggest influences would have to be my family and my friends, and the environment I grew up in and currently live in. I try to incorporate our lifestyle into the brand as much as possible. The lifestyle I grew up with and live nowadays from day to day is my biggest influence. For example, my grandfather was a huge Brooklyn Dodgers fan back in the day. I grew up on countless stories, footage, books, etc of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Our past summer collection drew lots of inspiration from vintage baseball uniforms, logos, etc. Especially the Brooklyn Dodgers. Our upcoming collections draw a lot of inspiration from nautical themes, stemming from my youth in the Hamptons, more specifically Montauk, which is a big fishing/sailing town, with tons of yacht clubs, marinas, etc.
Who have been your biggest supporters thus far?
My biggest supporters have been my friends. And all people who have purchased anything from DON or participated in any events, parties, etc. We wouldn’t be anything without the support of everyone.
How have you built your brand?
As I mentioned, we started by having some shirts printed up and I hustled them out of a bag at the private high school in the Hamptons I went to. That summer I managed to pull off a fashion show on the beach in the Hamptons with over 300 attendees, about 10 sponsors, and it was covered by nearly every magazine and paper out east, including Hamptons Magazine, Hamptons Style Magazine, Dan’s, etc. It was a really great stepping stone for us, in regards to press, awareness, and brand development.
Where can we find Don Clothing?
You can find us on our online store, at aNYthing in LES, East West Worldwide, Shouty in Korea, The Yard in Long Island, Space 75 in Philly, and a bunch of other select boutiques who are currently out of stock with our collection until our next season.
Besides Don Clothing are you involved in any other projects / ventures?
As I mentioned earlier I started a media business, producing websites, videos, photography, graphic design, etc. which is officially launching in the near future. A&P Creative, you will be able to catch us at AandPCreative.com
What upcoming releases, projects, or events are you working on?
Our upcoming collections and the direction of the brand is shifting completely towards cut-and-sew pieces, and much less t-shirts and basics. This summer is going to be very big for us, without revealing to much, I can tell you that we have shoe and jewelry collaborations with some great established names dropping as well as a really clean cut and sew collection to match.
What are your plans for the future?
Our plans for the future, is to continue expanding as a dynamic, versatile brand, and continue building the brand, lifestyle and following. We have big plans coming up for this summer, especially out in the Hamptons.
The fashion and music worlds are often tied together…What music artists are grabbing your attention right now?
I find myself getting bored of a lot of new music now a days. I listen to a bit of everything. But I grew up on a lot of hip hop as well as a ton of Sinatra, and Rat Pack. I guess my music tastes haven’t changed so much.
Thanks for taking the time to speak with us PJ. Do you have any last words or shout-outs?
Just want to say thanks for the interview, and shout out to the whole DON family.