Rocking a rolodex featuring the likes of Odell Beckham Jr., Fabolous, Wale, 21 Savage, Future and Cam Newton, young Rami Mona, the man behind Renzo Cardoni, could probably start a record label or a football team if he really wanted to. Instead, the Detroit native has set up shop in his home city, elevating jerseys, jackets and shorts made by the likes of Mitchell & Ness and Nike to the heights of high fashion with exotic detailing and patterned revamps.
Inspired by Don C just as much as Dipset, the 26-year old from the D has been making moves by outfitting everyone from Bryce Harper to Khloe Kardashian, challenging the notions of club dress code while offering fan gear that’s fashionable, fun and unique.
Gearing up for ComplexCon where he’ll debut airbrushed denim designs of NBA favorites and bandana clad football jerseys that would make Juelz Santana say, “Ayyy!” we caught up with Rami to hear how he started his business and what’s next for the brand.
Nice Kicks: To start, tell us a little bit about yourself and how Renzo Cardoni came about.
Rami Mona: I’m from Detroit, I’m based here, I’m 26 and I started this at 23. I fell in love with fashion and sports when I was younger. I was an athlete, but I was short, so I always wanted to merge fashion and sports. I got inspired by Don C and what he was doing with the hats, so I wanted to do it with the jerseys. I messed around with that and got help from a buddy in New York who had a clothing line and access to a factory. Long story short, I cut out the middleman, brought some investors on board and we brought the manufacturing to Detroit.
Nice Kicks: How did the artists and athletes first get on board?
Rami Mona: Fabolous was the first one to wear my stuff besides Big Sean. I DM’d him. The first time I met Fab, it was in New York at this pizza joint. He pulled up in an all-black Range Rover, I hopped in, we chopped it up, I gave him some pieces and it was a wrap ever since. Then Odell came along and I just kept grinding.
Nice Kicks: It definitely seems fitting to start with Fab.
Rami Mona: I wanted to be the one to bring the jersey wave back and I wanted Fab to be one the first people to rock them because he did the jerseys back in the day. I just wanted to bring the culture back.
Nice Kicks: When working with guys like Fabolous and Odell Beckham, do they hit you up with ideas or is it more you pitching them?
Rami Mona: To be honest, they usually let me do my own thing. Being a creative and dealing with creatives, I like to get their input when I can. Maybe if Fab has a shoe he wants to wear a jersey with he’ll give me the idea. Nine times out of ten though, they’ll send me a screenshot of something I already did with, ‘I need this.’ They know I’m good at what I do so they let me do what I do, but if they have an input it goes both ways.
Nice Kicks: What have been the biggest hurdles in regards to starting your own business?
Rami Mona: The biggest hurdle is having a team that can work just as hard as you. Being able to depend on people and giving them your guidance so once they’re on they can handle the stuff that I don’t want to handle no more. The other hurdle is being a designer with no corporate background. I really didn’t have the relationships coming into it, so I’ve built relationships as I’ve built my brand. The fashion industry is really political and if you’re not part of that circle it’s hard to get invited to certain events. I always try to be relevant and stay consistent. If I keep putting things out with Odell, Ezekiel, Fabolous and it’s hot and they wanna wear it, then when other people that might not want to see me make it, they’re still gonna see it. If I stay dropping fire, they have no choice but to let me in the door.
Nice Kicks: This weekend you’re set to pop up at ComplexCon. What do you have in the works?
Rami Mona: With ComplexCon, I’m releasing my airbrushed denim jersey line. For the NBA, I’m dropping the denim jerseys — all from scratch. I thought it made since to bring that back for an event that’s for the culture. For the NFL, I’m dropping jerseys that are all bandana that incorporates the Dipset culture and the jerseys they wore. I’m kind of just telling a story to bring that culture back.
Nice Kicks: Love it. Being a jersey guy, I’ve definitely been dress coded in bars and clothes for wearing fan gear. Do you think Renzo Cardoni can change dress codes or perception when it comes to wearing jerseys into certain spaces?
Rami Mona: When I started this, I wanted to have a luxury sportswear brand. When I say luxury, I want to be able to walk into an event or a club with a leather jersey on. I’ve got stopped for wearing my own jerseys in clubs. People may say, ‘Hey this is Renzo, that’s a $600 jersey,‘ but I want people to be able to wear something that still incorporates sport and a different trend where people can’t say, ‘You can’t wear that in there.‘ I want it to be high-end and the reason I say high-end is because I just got accepted to Barneys.
Sports target everybody, from your grandpa to your brother to your sister. Everybody loves sports. I like to target everybody and I’m working on making stuff that’s affordable for different markets. Being that said, I’m trying to make a collection for everybody so that everybody can be a part of it and everybody can get into an event and not worry about it.
Nice Kicks: Being Nice Kicks, we have to end it with footwear. Are there any plans to branch off into sneakers?
Rami Mona: I don’t ever want to step in a lane. Shoutout to The Shoe Surgeon and Mache, those guys are dope. When I think of shoes, it’s inspiration. I’m making a jersey for the Off-White Jordan 1s. As far as doing my own shoes, it would have to be like what Don C did with Jordan or the Air Force 1. I would have to be hit up by a brand and would have to incorporate a jersey that went with a sneaker.