Sami Miro effortlessly balances multiple roles — she’s a stylist, a model, a former marketing executive, a social media darling and most notably now, a clothing designer. Vintage clothing, the thrill of thrifting and repurposing is what centers Sami’s supremely hectic world and inspired her to create her own namesake line, Sami Miro Vintage, which she describes as “an eco-conscious clothing line specializing in sourcing and reconstructing one-of-a-kind vintage garments curated from around the world.”
Birthed and inspired from a visit (and eventual move) to Los Angeles and being immersed in the city’s electric creative climate, Miro’s pieces have been worn by some of fashion’s most influential babes — think Kendall and Kylie Jenner, Selena Gomez, Bella Hadid, Hailey Baldwin, Jordyn Woods and more.
Below we spoke with Sami about how vintage has always been a part of her life, the importance of sustainability in fashion and how she maintains her personal balance while running her own business.
How did growing up in a very tech-oriented city like San Francisco shape your upbringing and then eventually your style and career?
SM: It really shaped it in a very strong way. I grew up in tech and the startup environment was the route that I was on and how I really got started. I was in grad school and I went to grad school for global entrepreneurship and management. At the end of my time at grad school, I was interning at a tech startup and I ended up working for that company for 5 years. I was working in marketing and sales and it was the route that I thought was going to be my life plan.
Because my Master’s was in global entrepreneurship, I knew one day I wanted to have my own company. I just didn’t necessarily know the direction of what that company would end up being. I worked for them for those years and I would travel for them weekly. So towards the last year and a half, I ended up moving to Los Angeles and being in a completely different environment where it was more focused on creativity and entertainment. It really brought to life that I had something creative in me.
Since I can remember, I was always collecting vintage and that was my signature style. And when I was working for the tech company, I traveled to more corporate environments but I would still keep wearing my weird vintage outfits and be the only girl [in office], definitely the only brown girl and the weird one in the fashionable attire. So when I moved to LA, I made friends with people in more creative industries and they would see my wardrobe and my style and they would say ‘Everything is so amazing’— everything that I wore and collected came from my heart and what I enjoyed personally, but I had no idea about the fashion world. So when people said you should try styling I was like ‘What is styling?’. That’s how little I knew.
The last year that I was with that tech startup, I started on the weekends to understand what the fashion world was and what it meant. I was interning at different magazines and being like a coffee runner and trying to immerse myself in fashion and designers and understand it on a more business side. So I would intern and then during the week work my real corporate job and in doing that, I realized I wanted to explore something more creative. At that time I had no clue what it would end up becoming. So I tried a little modeling, I tried some styling and I then realized that — I started creating with the pieces that I was personally making for myself and realizing that it could potentially be a business. This was I guess three years ago. I didn’t know exactly how to turn vintage into a clothing line, because it was kind of a backward thing and no one was really doing that back then, but then I had an epiphany. I created my first collection and put it out in under ten days and got a lot of really good confirmation from influential people and the rest is kind of history.
How did you get first introduced to the world of thrifting and vintage?
SM: So I went to a fairly affluent high school on a scholarship and everyone around me was buying very expensive designer brands and that just wasn’t something I could afford. So I first came across vintage by thrifting and trying to be a part of the cool group by being able to wear those logos on my clothing. They were very tattered and had discoloration and all of that. I was able to find those brands at a more affordable price and then ended up realizing that’s what made my pieces more special and more unique– was the fact that I was the only one wearing this garment that had the holes and the wear and tear. It gave me the confidence to know that I was the only one that had this particular garment that you couldn’t find at a department store that everyone else could buy. So that’s really where it all came from. I just realized that everything became vintage and everything became unique. I really appreciated that each piece has a story and someone, or multiple people, were wearing it before me and it was fun for me back then to kind of wonder, ‘What was that person going through or where did they wear this to?’, ‘Why does it have this hole there?’, ‘What happened to them during this moment?’. It became an emotional connection for me.
Where are some of your favorite places to go to scout for the pieces that eventually become a part of a Sami Miro Vintage collection?
SM: I do a lot of traveling for work with SMV and outside of SMV, so every city that I go to, every country that I go to, I make an effort to shop for vintage. So really the collection of vintage that I have is from all over the world, almost every single continent.
There are some cities and some countries that have more vintage, like more first world countries, like Japan. Tokyo has incredible vintage, random cities in the US– like random places in Minnesota and Chicago and obviously LA are a great vintage mecca. Some cities like LA, Miami, and a few others I have contacts at have these top secret vintage warehouses where you have to wear like face masks and gloves and dig through like crazy piles of clothing. It’s not curated at all but that’s where you find all of the gems. I enjoy a combination of that. If I’m going to another country, or in Europe or Asia, then I go to a more curated vintage store. I think if you want to find the most unique pieces, you have to be dedicated to spending hours and hours of digging and definitely needing Zyrtec and allergy medicine when doing so and taking a good show after. That’s the fun part of getting the most unique pieces.
Do you have certain people in mind when you’re designing a collection? Who or what inspires you?
SM: Because my background isn’t in fashion and I was raised by my dad and older brother, those girly things that girls are typically raised with, I didn’t have. I didn’t read all the fashion magazines, everything really just came from my heart. Looking back now though– I love the Black Panthers, Freddie Mercury, Eddie Murphy, and Motley Crue and all of that, they’re inspiring. But I really like to find my inspiration from random things. Like the old man sitting at the bus stop in his dapper three-piece suit, and inspiration from colors and textures that I see. When I’m thinking of my collections, I look at the top male and female present day influencers– Bella Hadid or Em Rata, would they wear this? But really it just comes from the old man sitting at the bus stop.
Why was creating a line that was eco-friendly and sustainable important to you?
SM: San Francisco, in general, is a very green city. We’re aware of global warming and being green and recycling, so that was just a natural foundation in my life. Learning more about the fashion industry and realizing that it truly is one of the top 5 most harmful industries in our environment– all the manufacturing and production and the tremendous amount of waste, especially with fast fashion these days. You buy a dress for $19, you wear it once, and then where does it go? Everybody does this and it’s become a bigger and bigger issue exponentially as time progresses while these fast fashion brands become billion dollar companies.
Really everything that I do is authentic to me. Vintage is the foundation of my confidence and my company. Upon creating my first collection, I knew that all of the fabrics had to fit into that mold. All of the fabrics that I used that are not vintage are recycled fabrics or deadstock fabrics, so reusing things that people have created and wasted and tossed to the side. Being eco-conscious is important to me in every way. Not just using water bottles and having electric cars, but staying aware of ways I can not harm the planet more than it already has been, is important to me. So that had to be a part of my business as well.
How do you stay balanced in between the day to day stress of running your own business?
SM: I would say that I’m lucky that I come from a corporate background. I’m very regimented Monday through Friday. My team comes in at 9 AM or earlier every day, we leave at a certain time– typically late– and I often work on the weekends. It’s really magical, the fact that I enjoy what I do and it gives me pleasure to have to work however many hours. I have a good balance though. When I’m able to check out or have a weekend, I do a lot of hot yoga. I like to take care of myself physically and that gives me a really good balance.
What direction do you see the vintage world taking in the next few years?
SM: I see it becoming the way of the future. For SMV, I’m lucky that I have a solid group of people who appreciate what I do and like my designs, so I really see myself always continuing to push my aesthetic and grow with that. Always maintaining the SMV signature and having a brand that is recognizable in what it does. I see my brand growing to a much larger scale than it is. I have a few projects in the work that I’m very, very excited about that will bring my visibility to the next level and showcase a different side of some things that I’ve created. It’s all about having a vision and it’s okay if it changes, but maintaining your integrity and showing the world that you’re able to evolve without completely rebranding. Evolve with the times and your customers age and where we are in the world. I definitely see myself pushing forth the importance of having a sustainable brand and having that be a very important selling point within the brand and teaching people why this is important and educating them so they can bring that into their lives outside of just liking a shirt or liking a dress.