Loose Tony doesn’t have patience for nonsense. He’s too busy working hard on his eponymous line of apparel with plans to take over the world one screen-printed snapback at a time. Tony’s a NY-born, NY-based artist running a solo operation out of his Harlem studio. His specialty is hand-drawn textiles which he hand prints on to pretty much anything he can get his hands on. He is a self-taught clothing designer with a big personality and even bigger dreams. We sat down with Loose Tony to find out more about the label and the original man behind the brand.
"The brand is built on my #$%!@ hustle because no one works harder than me."
I think I’m an original because I take from everybody and I make it my own. I’ll never rip somebody but I’ll take inspiration from everybody. If somebody rips me I’ll think of something better.
So, I’m Tony and my business is fashion and clothing and all my textiles are hand-drawn and all my stuff is hand-printed.
I didn’t start off trying to be a designer. I started off not wanting to buy clothes anymore because I couldn’t find the stuff that I wanted. What started it all is that I wanted a flamingo-printed collared shirt and I couldn’t find one anywhere. So, I had to make my own.
I’d been selling clothes but I was only painting on clothing because I didn’t know how to sew, so I started interning for a tailor to pick up tips. I learned patterns from my ex-girlfriend. She taught me how to make collared shirt patterns and everything else I taught myself. The first things I made were collared shirts and I screen-printed all the fabrics by hand. I was going out a lot and everyone was asking me where I got my shirt and where they could buy it and I was like, “well, these are my shirts, nobody can buy them!” Then, I made a hat for myself and then I made another one and another one and pretty soon it turned into a business. I was making over $1,000 a semester selling clothes out of my dorm room.
I have a girl that helps me with the cash at my pop-up shops but that’s about it. I’ve had two pop-ups so far. I don’t sell at any stores. And I don’t sell online. [For the pop-up shops] I’ll make groupings of products that are all limited edition. I did backpacks for the first pop-up with a bunch of different prints. There were also hats and bowties and then I had all my samples up of all the other stuff I’ve done like pants, and collared shirts and stuff like that. So, I had the event for two days and the first night was like, a huge freaking party. I basically sold out of the stuff in two days.
Other people beating me out motivates me. I’m super competitive and when I see successful people doing their thing I’m really hard on myself and that pushes me to work harder. Nobody pushes me harder than I push myself. It's hard to find a partner. People don’t want to do their part — if there’s ever a partnership there’s always one person that’s a slacker. But how can I expect anyone to go as hard for my stuff as me?
Every pop-up is gratifying for me. It’s such a good feeling having people there who are having such a good time and buying the clothes. They believe in the product and they believe in me and they’re spending good chunks of money on my stuff. Like spending $60 on a snapback. I would never spend $60 on a snapback! I’m so cheap. But they appreciate why it’s priced that way— it’s made in NY, it’s hand-printed and all the products are made in the U.S.A. It’s important to me. How many snapbacks have you seen that are made in the U.S.? Not any. Tell me if you see any—I’ll burn down their store.
Quit your job and go hard with Loose Tony.
How many people know of Loose Tony. When I get to the point where I can wake up and creatively do what I want to do every day. No money, but like enough profit off of Loose Tony to wake up and do it every day. The brand is built on my hustle because no one works harder than me.
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Article by Stoli USA
Photography by Giselle Borbajo