Young designer revives neon culture
More than two decades after neon culture rocked 80s street fashion, one clothing line by Anthony Lomelo serves as a reminder to “Remember [the] Joy” of that incredible fashion era.
Ironically, Lomelo wasn’t even born until 1984, but that doesn’t mean he’s ill-qualified for a fashion revival. It seems his fashion sense was embedded in his DNA even before his conception.
It was another humid summer evening in Houston, Texas, when Lomelo and I found ourselves on the porch of Brazil’s downtown to talk about his line.
Lomelo commented that he’d “be wearing a sweater” at this time of day, if he were back home in L.A.
Needless to say, Lomelo had left behind his sweater, but he hadn’t gone out without a little bit of bling; he wore a gold ring embedded with a few diamonds, which he said was his dad’s Mafia ring from the 50s.
It could be noted at this point that Lomelo’s father is actually a former modeling agency owner, not a mobster, and that his mother is a former model.
“Growing up, my mom taught me a lot about fashion: sewing, clothing design and stuff like that. It was with me at a young age, at the same time I started playing sports and stuff. It has just developed since,” Lomelo said.
By high school, a light bulb began to flicker: ideas for a fashion line began to manifest in his head.
Some time later, Lomelo found himself back in Houston and unhappy with his work.
“As I was working with my brother, I realized how much I didn’t want to do the work I was doing, and how I wanted to do my own thing. I got to the point where it just wasn’t working out. He wanted to fire me, and I wanted quit. So he asked me ‘What do you want to do with your life??’ I sat him down and talked to him for about an hour to two hours about this clothing line, and he had faith in me. He actually gave me my initial investment and got me started,” Lomelo said.
Shortly after, Lomelo jetted across the world to Stockholm, Sweden, to meet up with his first design partner Marc Strömberg, a Stolkholm resident.
“I thought going into this business maybe I should find myself a little more. I thought Sweden was a good place to get away from everything that I was used to and everything that I knew. I think it really helped me a lot,” Lomelo reminisced.
His clothing line, Remember Joy, began to come to life.
“As far as the T-shirts go, it’s kind of a crossover from hip hop into the hipster-scenester-indie world. The sizes that I sell are sizes geared toward the indie culture, but the actual artwork is geared toward the hip hop. It’s sort of a crossover,” he explained.
“A lot of the T-shirt art is from when we started the company. They were just real life concepts. The syringe design called ‘Lost Angeles’ describes kind of what happens when people come to L.A., and they get lost in the world of drugs and partying. The ‘Crucifries’ shirt, it’s not a direct punch at McDonalds, but it’s more of saying what you do to yourself when you eat the food. If you eat the food constantly, you are basically going to crucify yourself on a cross to die,” he said.
Once he felt confident about a few designs, he began to market his work to boutiques in Stockholm.
“I literally walked from boutique to boutique and showed them images of my designs, gave them a card, told them who I was, where I came from and what I wanted to do,” he said.
Some stores loved it and wanted to order something right away. Some stores didn’t like it. Some stores called three months later and wanted to make an order.
“I guess you could call it guerilla marketing,” Lomelo said. “From there, I got in good with one store and had a party there in Stockholm with some of the other designers they carried. I went there and did some networking.”
His next move?
“I just got into a store in Australlia called Tuchuzy. That’s something I’m really excited about because they have great fashion and the whole neon/80s culture. They are really amazing. Hopefully, they take onto my stuff. In October I plan on going to Japan and trying to market it there, too. Japan can make me or kill me. That’s a tough market; they love newcomers, but if you don’t do it correctly, they chew you up and spit you out,” Lomelo said.
By the time Lomelo ventures to Japan, he should have at least part of his new line ready.
“I’m doing a whole new line of exclusive personal cut garmets. I’m using some cuts that haven’t been around for a while and mixing it up with a different fit, but a nice cut around the neck and shorter sleeves,” he said.
One design sketch he shared with me illustrated a new design of a shirt with suspender loops on the shoulders.
Soon, his company will expand to include a line of designer jeans, too.
“I’m definitely getting into jeans. Skinny jeans are a big craze, and I don’t know if it will ever go out of style. I tried putting on a pair of jeans from three years ago that were bootcut or straight leg, or whatever they were then, and I just couldn’t wear them. I just wanted to see how they fit, but they felt like parachute pants,” Lomelo laughed. “I just couldn’t do it.”
Since Lomelo has returned to L.A., he has also found another business partner, Adam Moonves who he met (and bonded with on a Cochella trip) shortly after his return from Sweden.
“He knew I had already built the base, and he was willing to bring something to the table. Once we started to get our creative minds together, there was no stopping it,” he said.
Moonves helps with garmet design and financing.
“I’ll run an idea by him, if he doesn’t like, I’ll kick it back. We discuss it, and vice versa,” Lomelo said.
Lomello considers himself a full-time clothing designer and entrepreneur, but in his free time, he’s DJ Applesauce, which “gives [him] some good pocket money here and there.”
“I DJ around LA and Houston often,” he said. “I’m trying to make a mixtape of the remixes I’ve done through the years. It’s coming along pretty well. I get into a lot of electro music… It kind of goes hand-in-hand with my artwork and clothing designs. I kind of sit there and work on song, and I’ll have to take a break. My mind is still in that creative process, so I’ll go on to getting a pen and paper and sketching out some kind of clothing design or a graphic for a T-shirt or just something for my wall. It all kind of intertwines in the creative process.”
Creativity rules Lomelo’s life. At least it does when he’s not at the beach.
“I considered getting a part time job during the day to keep me busy since there’s only so much I can do. I’ve kind of voided that out because the beach is just better. I hang out there a lot,” he said.
And that’s fine… so long as he keeps crafting new designs. Check him out at http://www.rememberjoy.se.