by Stephen Garner

Momento Uomo launched at the end of February, just as the pandemic came sweeping into New York – canceling all plans of pop-ups, events, and traveling to source its inventory of secondhand pieces. The Queer-owned and sustainable fashion brand has built itself on an ethos of celebrating secondhand and vintage apparel and jewelry – and has stood out in the very cluttered scene of sustainable fashion brands and online vintage shops.

Momento Uomo’s founder, John James Muller, has kept his dream, very much alive, in creating a new-aged fashion brand that’s fully sustainable and unisex. John – who goes often by Johnny, has shifted sourcing from an international selection to right here, in the tri-state area of New York at non-profit retailers and estate sales; on the hunt for high-quality pieces in perfect condition – and sell them affordably through the brand’s online shopping platform and partner apps like Object Limited and Etsy.

“The original idea for the brand came after realizing I had a closet that was swarming in fast fashion – nothing was made in the U.S. or Europe, and hundreds of pieces that cost less than an average, hourly wage,” said Johnny. “I donated everything I owned that was from a fast-fashion retailer and what was left, was everything I’d purchased in vintage stores and thrift shops. I realized these were my most complimented pieces that didn’t wear like the others. Momento has all the characteristics of a fashion brand, we curate collections, we style and shoot our apparel on models, albeit, sometimes it’s myself but I find, things don’t seem to sell when I try to model – so I leave it the pros.”

Momento is run out of Spanish Harlem, where Johnny and his partner, Ray Rivera live with their French Bulldog, Sebastian. When he’s not thrifting, measuring, or laundering clothing – he’s putting together mood boards, styling the brand’s weekly collections or editorial shoots, and photographing the pieces and (moments around the city). “Ray often loans a creative eye and helps me take those aforementioned photos, trying to do his best to make me look great – sometimes it involves cropping my head,” laughed Johnny.

And, for the next month, Momento Uomo will be at The Makers Show at City Point in Downtown Brooklyn. This holiday market, created by a former director of the renowned Union Square, Bryant Park, and Columbus Circle Holiday Markets, prides itself on celebrating a diverse group of small business vendors who are Black, Queer, or local New Yorkers that all play a part in helping their communities thrive.

To see the brand and the rest of The Makers Show vendors, this weekend and next weekend, Friday through Sunday, 12pm to 8pm at 445 Albee Square W, Brooklyn, NY.