Born Again Studios upscales vintage pieces with pearls and luxury monograms

By Steven Nunez, Photojournalist

Brianna Montesano, a sophomore fashion merchandising major at Columbia, co-founded Born Again Studios with her best friend Christina Ande. Steven Nunez

With a focus on environmental consciousness, Born Again Studios combines streetwear and pop culture into its clothing reducing its carbon footprint by giving vintage items a second life.

Originally a medical student in Miami, Brianna Montesano, a sophomore fashion studies major, transferred to Columbia in 2018 to pursue her passion for fashion. On Friday, Aug. 28, she launched Born Again Studios with her best friend, Christina Ande.

“Born Again” is a mantra that Montesano embodies in her life through her personal growth and feeling “reborn.” She said she loves Chicago for its abundance of culture in streetwear and how other art forms, such as music, intertwine with fashion.

Brianna Montesano, co-founder of Born Again Studios, models the studios “NY Mets x Thor Pearl Tee” and “LV Monogram Denim” from the brand’s newest collection. It features vintage sportswear, band merchandise and pop culture items accented with pearls, giving the clothes a second life. Steven Nunez

After living in Miami and seeing other students’ individual styles on campus in Chicago, she felt inspired to embrace her own, Montesano said.

“It was a little bit harder to see people wearing the stuff that I wear because my style kind of stuck out from the crowd … because everyone’s in shorts, T-shirts, flip-flops and sneakers. Everyone’s on island mode down there,” she said.

The brand’s recent launch features custom vintage items, crochet bikinis and denim, which can all be found on its website. As someone who keeps up with fashion trends, Montesano said she noticed pearls are currently in style and decided to combine them with vintage clothing.

Born Again Studios’ custom denim features vintage jeans with spray painted Louis Vuitton-style monograms. Steven Nunez

Montesano’s favorite piece in the pearl vintage collection is the first one she made, titled “Led Zeppelin Pearl Band Tee.” The vintage band T-shirt has a black, glittery spray painted Nike-style Swoosh on the chest and pearls on the angel wings.

“It just accidentally ended up looking so much cooler than what I expected it to,” Montesano said. “I think some of the best things that you make are so unexpected.”

Before launching her brand’s official website, Montesano posted a teaser of the first pearl vintage collection item and received an abundance of positive feedback from her friends on social media.

Since then, Montesano has created more music and sport related pearl pieces, including shirts of the late singer Aaliyah, Nike-style crewnecks and various T-shirts, windbreakers and jerseys boasting different sports teams.

Born Again Studios also features a crochet collection of colorful bikinis with pearl detailing. Each suit features a “CC” similar to Chanel’s brand logo on the top.

However, the pieces in this collection are not recommended for swimming, she said. Instead, she said they should be worn as a lounge set and under other clothing.

“I want to give people the opportunity to wear something cool and different that has that luxury feel to it without it being luxury … and help the world in a way [because] we’re recycling everything and upcycling it,” said Montesano.