Welcome to our New Website series, where twice a month we’ll feature an e-retailer that we love and know our readers will too. Whether it’s an old but under-the-radar favorite or a newly launched label, you’ll want to report back to your friends with the findings (or maybe keep them to yourself)!
For today’s installment of our treasured series, we bring you a site that is not only under the radar (though not for long, we presume) but is also, in fact, quite new. Meet Maimoun: the Brooklyn-based e-shop that despite only having launched in July of 2016, already boasts a roster of impressive brands and has a unique, well-defined aesthetic anyone would envy. If it’s not evident enough in their offering of clothing, accessories, and, my personal favorite, trinkets, it’s clear as day through their supplemental lookbooks, Instagram account, and carefully crafted on-site audio player, which updates monthly.
Naturally, we were intrigued, so to find out more about the brand, we recently reached out owner Mina Alyeshmerni, who answered all our most pressing questions. Scroll through to read the full interview, and then continue to shop our top picks from Maimoun!
Who What Wear: Can you give us a brief history of when, how, and why you launched your site?
Mina Alyeshmerni: Maimoun rose out of an initial desire to bring aesthetics to the e-commerce world in a more thoughtful way. At the time, there was this ongoing conversation between friends of mine that e-commerce felt distant or impersonal and a bit conventional in form. Since Maimoun is derived from the Persian language word meaning “the guests or company who are invited into your home for a social gathering,” I knew I wanted to explore a dialogue between the store, the customer, and the designers carried. Often online or even in a brick-and-mortar location, you aren’t exposed to pieces of information like where the designer is based out of, what their background is, or what specifically inspired their latest collection. Providing that kind of intimacy and conversation was important to me, especially as a store bringing in mainly young designers, some of which are completely new to the scene.
WWW: You have an eclectic range of items beyond just clothing—can you tell us about your offerings and how you go about curating them?
MA: As a new store, the process has been quite natural, as we don't have a history of sales to rely on. So in some ways, it was also a freeing experience. I’ve found the items that have moved the best are the ones I personally fell for and sort of had to have myself, which, in some ways, has led the store down a more lifestyle-curated path.
Bringing in items like Shanti Shea An’s art prints from Australia, or Tsubota Pearl’s lighters from Japan felt like a very natural iteration of my buying process. It has also allowed me to understand the three-dimensionality of who my customer is or might be.
WWW: You also carry a diverse range of fashion brands, some that are new to the CFDA and others that are more under the radar. Tell us about how you go about finding and selecting the ones you sell?
MA: Coming across a new designer can be tough—the environment is constantly evolving, so there’s always a faint feeling of not seeing enough or knowing enough. However, each season, I’ll focus on bringing in new talent. The sources are pretty widespread, mainly friends in the industry and then a complete deluge of information brought to me by the beautiful and enigmatic world wide web. As far as selecting from there, I look for designers who are telling a cohesive story with a vision that is ultimately their own. Pieces that are seasonless and can wear well throughout the ages are always my ideal, but another criteria for selection is if my customer will feel challenged by this designer or this specific piece, as I hope to appeal to them but more so to encourage them to rethink items they might not have considered outside of the store before. Building a relationship with my customer in that way is something I am constantly keeping in mind during market.
WWW: Are there any up-and-coming designers you’re really excited about who our readers should keep an eye out for?
MA: Ksenia Seraya is a new designer based out of Moscow. Her manipulation of knit fabric is mind-bending, and [she] has gathered her inspiration from the mobile sculptures of Alexander Calder and programmers who build code algorithms like Clement Valla. Another is Kahle. They are based out of Brooklyn, New York, and have consistently redefined the Kahle woman with each season. They too have provoked an ongoing recent conversation of what it means to be a seasonless brand, often producing their own fabrics and creating pieces that teeter between art and wearability.
WWW: How does social media play into your business?
MA: It was the first great supporter of the store—our Tumblr, Snapchat, and Instagram accounts were created an entire year before the store opened, and it served as the jumping-off point for many things: getting to know our customers, building our aesthetic, showcasing new items, and meeting collaborators who want to work with the store in some capacity. It’s also wildly democratic, so coming across new designers via social media is something we are tapping into more and more.
WWW: Tell us about your lookbook! It feels so real yet aspirational at the same time. What’s the process for creating it?
MA: It came together pretty organically, given that it was a small shoot and very intimate in terms of who was there: just me, the model, and the photographer. It was shot by Alexa Viscius, who is a close friend and automatically allowed for a freeing collaboration and understated mood for the shoot. Since it was the first lookbook of the store, I wanted to stay close to home. Most shots were taken within a few blocks of where we’re based here in Williamsburg. Using film instead of going digital allowed this beautiful grainy quality and the sharp contrasts that came with natural light. We actually spent some time on the shoot just in search of these temporary pockets of sunlight.
WWW: What’s your single most popular piece among customers right now?
MA: We recently brought in slide sandals from Parme Marin. They produce out of Morocco and are in great support of their partnerships with local artisans in the area. I think customers are really drawn to the simplicity of the pieces along with the square-shaped silhouette of the slide, which hasn't been done before.
WWW: What makes Maimoun different from other e-retailers?
MA: I wanted the online store to resemble a visit to your friend’s home who collects a hodgepodge of items from her travels around the world. The store was designed around this idea of how to communicate that feeling. On a more micro level, we also incorporated an audio player on the desktop site, so each month we get to feature a new artist. Customers can wander through the store while having a listen to something completely new in the music scene.
WWW: What can we expect coming up from the site?
MA: I really enjoy the process of collaborating, so this is something the store will be building out more and more over time. I’m also really looking forward to using the audio player as an extension for all kinds of things, one of which is a podcast series of conversations with creatives in various industries. We’re also getting physical with some great pop-ups with partner stores in the Brooklyn area ... We’ll be making some announcements soon via our Instagram if you’re in the area.
Shop our picks from Maimoun:
Officewear never looked so comfortable.
This is the perfect pop of pink to wear with the suit you just saw.
Just imagine the layering possibilities!
No need to stack this beauty.
Statement sweaters make the perfect night-out tops in winter.
We're totally for the resurgence of the beret.
This chic lighter doubles as a decorative item for your home.
Gotta love a sweater that can still wow you.
Wear these on a night out or every day with a T-shirt and jeans.
Have you jumped on board the fur slipper trend yet?
Whether you're hitting the streets or the beach, this bag will make your outfit.
Not your average leather jacket—that's for sure.
You can always use another stylish coffee table book.
This midi dress will work for day and night.
Do you have any favorite sites you’d like to see featured next? Share them with us in the comments!