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Dear Pennies,

Right before the Christmas holidays, I was browsing Refinery29 when I came across an article listing the 50 most influential people in fashion; I RT’ed the article and received a thank you from Alban Selamaj, co-founder of the emerging international t-shirt brand, Vernato. Upon checking out the Vernato website and designs, I was immediately intrigued by the brand and its founders. Vernato was founded by Alban Selamaj and Anton Vitkovskiy who are both from Eastern Europe and now based in the U.S. Vernato is all about illustrating culture and history from different countries all over the world. The designs are thoughtful and usually reflect a profound meaning or history from the country it represents. In essence, please check out the interview from below to learn more about Alban and the Vernato brand.

Anton Vitkovskiy (left) & Alban Selamaj (right)

DLP (de la Pen): As one half of Vernato, Alban, please tell de la Pen Pennies (readers) some of your day to day duties and activities?

AS (Alban Selamaj): Usually in a day, I’ll work on a few projects. For example today I was setting up our next photo shoot with fashion photographer Yulia McClamrock. We’re really excited about this shoot as it will launch our new campaign.

Other than that, I talk to people and make sure that everyone is on the same page. I have a very social job for the most part.

DLP: What’s the inspiration behind Vernato? Where did the name of the company come from?

AS: The way we live our life. We have friends from all over the world. We enjoy the classics in life and appreciate the world’s past. When we came to America from Eastern Europe, we made friends with people all over the world and this cultural way of life played a big role in the creation of Vernato. Vernato represents all those people and their cultural mentality.

The name Vernato means winter in medieval Italian. It’s the season in which we started Vernato.

DLP: How does Vernato differ from other fashion brands?

AS: We just have our own flavor. From the way Anton (creative director) researches each culture to his Eastern European style of design. Also, the artwork used in our t-shirts comes from world’s history and every little piece has its own deep meaning.

For example one of our customers was telling us that his grandfather would read to him out loud the document in our Irish t-shirt design when he was young. It’s pretty nice to see our t-shirt relate to people in those levels. And it’s what Vernato is all about.

DLP: Where do the Vernato t-shirts come from? Who designs them? Who makes them?

AS: Anton is the Creative Director and he designs all of our t-shirts and everything else that you see on our website and beyond.

Our first collection was produced in India, but the future collections will be produced in the USA.

Vernato Jamaica T-shirt

DLP: Describe the ideal Vernato client.

AS: Vernato is for the young cultural generation. For those who embrace open minded thoughts, for those of taste and for those who appreciate the worlds past and present.

I always thought that if Picasso was a 20 something guy living today, he would wear Vernato for sure.

Vernato Hoplite Photograph by Ira Morris

DLP: Tell me more about the upcoming Vernato projects.

The biggest news that we are announcing via this blog is that we will be dropping the female line and focusing completely on the male market. We just want to focus on something we are great at, and at the moment is designing guys t-shirts.

Because in all honestly, what do two straight guys from Eastern Europe know about designing women’s t-shirt?

DLP: What goals do you hope to accomplish for Vernato in 2011?

AS: We just want to share our story with as many people as we can, and would like to see Vernato in a few well respected boutiques throughout the US. That would make us very happy.

DLP: Where do you see Vernato in the future?

AS: On 5th Avenue. 

And there it is. The Fashion and Style of the Pen…de la Pen.

For more information on Vernato check out their website: