Reworking vintage clothes was always in the designer Sami Miró’s DNA—turning her childhood hobby into a fashion label adored by the likes of Bella Hadid and Selena Gomez was simply the natural next step. “I was raised by my dad and had an older brother, so I always wore their hand-me-downs,” Miró, the owner of Sami Miró Vintage, says. “At an early age, I had to figure out how to make these big, baggy men’s clothes look right on me.” Out of necessity, Miró frequently cut and pinned pieces to fit them for her body. “I did what I did because I loved it and it made me feel confident,” she remembers. “I was so far removed from the fashion industry.”
Miró began her career at a traditional tech start-up in San Francisco—not exactly proving ground for a budding designer, but the environment did end up catalyzing her move into fashion. “I would travel weekly, and when I did, I met people in creative industries who saw value in my style and in my clothes,” the 34-year-old designer says. Socializing with creatives inspired her to quit her corporate job and tap into her own creativity on a full-time basis. “I didn’t know exactly what that looked like back then, and I didn’t know it would end up being this today,” she says. “I just decided to try a bunch of different things.” It was always a dream of hers to design from upcycling, but she wasn’t quite sure how to express it at the time—it was 2016, and hardly anyone was repurposing vintage. But staying true to her passion—and herself—meant tapping into her interests and style behaviors from childhood. “That meant vintage. That meant sustainability,” she says. Thus, Sami Miró Vintage was born.
Here, Miró shares her tips for shopping sustainably, the influence her father has had on her style, and the one trend she will never understand.
The tech-to-fashion pipeline is certainly a unique one. Did your style often stand out from your coworkers in San Francisco?
In the tech world, I was surrounded by older white men in very corporate attire, but I didn’t try to look like them at all. I just wore what made me feel good. But I stood out—both in terms of my fashion but also being a woman of color, being a decade and a half younger than many of them.
I feel like that would lead a lot of people to conform. But you did the opposite.
I thrive on discomfort. I feel comfortable in uncomfortable situations. And I think it’s because I know that when you’re comfortable, you don’t grow.
Sustainability was an integral part of SMV’s ethos long before it was the trendy thing to do. Nowadays, how can consumers differentiate between greenwashing and authenticity?
Greenwashing is a marketing ploy; [brands] are portraying themselves as being sustainable when they’re really not. A lot of labels are now trying to be a part of this trend and get sales from it, so they might be doing one small thing, but it’s not making much of a difference. It’s unfortunate because now, if a brand says they’re sustainable, you can’t always trust that. It takes a bit of due diligence and research from the consumer’s end. You have to go that extra mile and really ask in what ways is that company sustainable?
What advice would you give to those who want to shop sustainably?
Practice consciousness in your life. The more you think about what you’re doing and the decisions you’re making, the better. Instead of just saying, “I like this, I’m going to buy it,” ask yourself: How long is this garment going to last me? How is it made? Which types of fabric does this brand use? Is it upcycled? recycled? Is it made from organic or regenerated materials? Being conscious of the answers to these questions can result in a much healthier planet.
You recently were inducted into the CFDA’s Interim Membership Tier. What does that mean to you as a designer?
I didn’t know that was a possibility for me! I see the CFDA as [recognizing] the top designers in America, and for that to happen, your business has to be at a massive level. With their new tier for emerging designers, I know that is not, in fact, the truth. I just had this grandiose idea that we were really far away from being able to be a part of it. So to get inducted now? It made me feel like I’m doing something right.
Let’s get into the Style Notes questions. First things first: can you describe your style in three words?
Wearing-things-the-wrong-way, let’s make that one word. Juxtapositions—I never have an outfit that’s all one thing. If I’m wearing something sexy then I want something oversized to go with it or if I’m wearing something pretty and cute, I want hard leather to match. And the third word, of course, is vintage.
What was the last item you purchased?
Vintage Chanel glasses.
Who is your ultimate style icon?
Can I say my dad?
What is the most prized possession in your closet?
My dad’s vintage suit collection. He’s sent me so many suits he’s kept from over the years, starting from the ’60s. Some of them I have reworked, but others I just can’t bear to touch! They have to stay in their natural form.
What was your first major fashion purchase?
My first pair of designer jeans—they were Paper Denim. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a major purchase, but for me, it had sentimental value. I actually thrifted them for 40 bucks!
Where are your favorite places to shop?
Something that I do in every city is figure out where the best vintage stores are, so I can collect things from all over the world. L.A. is great for vintage, but it’s a lot of ’80s, ’90s, and early 2000s. When I travel I love to find more local fashion that I can’t find at home. If I’m in London, I’m looking for something that’s specific to Britain. It’s all about finding whatever is unique to that city.
What’s the best piece of fashion advice you always give?
Don’t follow the trends or wear something because it’s trendy. Wear what makes you feel comfortable and wear what makes you feel confident. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters.
What’s one trend everyone loves that you will never understand?
Boho-chic or music festival vibes. Fringe works maybe 5 percent of the time, but head-to-toe boho-chic? It’s just so expected.
So I take it you won’t be wearing a flower crown to Coachella?
I definitely don’t care about what I’m supposed to wear in any location that I’m in. I just roll with the antithesis of it.