A skip across the bridge on East Fisher Service Drive and into the murals, sheds, and aromas of Eastern Market, beautiful clothes are being cooked up. High-fashion and sports have been in a symbiotic relationship for years. While many hyped brands are generating attention in the major fashion tabloids for their sports-inspired pieces, one small label from Detroit — Renzo Cardoni — is steadily rising as well, hand-creating repurposed sportswear cool enough for the sports and music elite.
A few years ago, Rami Mona wanted to start a brand that perfectly amalgamated his love for sports, fashion, and pop-culture.
“I saw [luxury cut-and-sew sportswear leader] Don C was putting snakeskin on the brims of hats, and that just inspired me,” Mona tells me. “I was like, ‘Yo, what if I did the snakeskin thing, but on a jersey?’”
Investing his own money, Mona sourced in the materials, and used a connection in New York City to create the first batch of NBA jerseys both lettered and numbered in snakeskin.
Mona’s work was a smash, and he quickly found himself forging relationships with sporting and cultural icons like Odell Beckham Jr, Fabolous, Big Sean, 21 Savage, The Weeknd, and Jarvis Landry, all of whom currently wear Cardoni while warming up on the field or on the stage performing. With his high-powered clientele, Mona has been hard at work creating custom orders of the luxe gear for celebrities and their friends. He recently decided to move back home to Detroit to create full collections and satisfy the custom orders.
With a tight-knit crew of assistants and seamstresses, the brand has been churning out apparel from an old factory in the heart of Eastern Market. Like many studios and workshops in Detroit, the space has a rustic, industrial-chic aesthetic. The floor plan is open and spacious. There is exposed piping in the ceiling and red bricks peek out from behind a white paint job that has faded in some areas. Windows boasting a glorious view of the famous murals of Eastern Market are a highlight, as well.
“The place just has a great vibe. As a creator, that’s really important,” Mona says. “Detroit is full of gems like this place. We originally were looking to go downtown, but this place has more character.”
The clothing itself is quite extravagant. Mona sources team gear such as jerseys, warm-up jackets, shorts and sweatshirts, and remixes them in his own way. He has taken jerseys and hoodies that are two different colors, cut, and re-sewn them at the middle, then completed them with snakeskin detailing. Recently, he has been experimenting with making whole jerseys out of denim or leather as the base material. Shorts are retouched by mismatching the team’s colors on each leg or by making the primary portion of the legs camouflage. Vintage starter jackets and warm-up gear are given the snakeskin treatment on the team’s logo. Mona is also in the process of designing a line of Cardoni-branded apparel, inspired by his favorite sports gear. The hard work and luxurious materials put into each piece comes at a price — most garments have a price range from $400-$600, and even higher for custom orders.
Renzo Cardoni is pushing the culture of Detroit fashion to a national level, outfitting various jet-setters in his opulent garms. He has an eye for innovation, and champagne taste.
“There’s so much you can do with sports apparel,” Mona believes. “I can retool it into something dope. I can make it that statement piece.”