Right now, there isn’t a better moment to cop an Italian soccer or football jersey. Now that Italy has the world’s attention for becoming Euro 2020 champions, the Complex SHOP unveils a special collaboration that’s rooted in soccer, Italian pride, and skateboarding. Today, we present a capsule collection by ‘No Kiddin!’ a New York City-based streetwear brand by Lorenzo Lamarucciola, the art director and brand manager of the Downtown New York Italian staple Pepe Rosso. For the capsule, the brand has collaborated with the Italian streetwear brand IUTER and pro skateboarder Eli Reed on a three-piece capsule collection that features a soccer jersey and tracksuit inspired by Italy’s finest football players. Although the worlds of soccer and skateboarding feel far apart, the collaboration between Reed and Lamarucciola naturally comes together.
To kick off the capsule’s official launch on the Complex SHOP we spoke to Lamarucciola and Reed about how the collaboration came about, the origins of ‘No Kiddin!, ’their long friendship, and more.
After seeing some of ‘No Kiddin!’’s garments, I can safely assume that at least one of you was watching the Euro 2020 Finals. How did you both feel seeing Italy take home the win?
Lorenzo Lamarucciola:I'm super excited but was also super confident about them winning because they had such a strong team this year. Finally, they won after so many years. I lost my voice yesterday because of it.
Do you watch soccer too, Eli?
Eli Reed: I used to, but I kind of fell out of it. I'm more of a fan of soccer attire. As a skater, I wish we had more companies that would make stuff like that.
Why make football and soccer merch?
Eli Reed: Well function and I think the number one thing is also breathability. Because you know skaters wear whatever. But the reality is that there's still a lot of athleticism happening even when you're on a skateboard. A lot of great skaters I know honestly wear soccer jerseys. You can see that if you watch a lot of skate videos. So the functionality of this stuff is why I've always been a fan and it feels nice to skate in.
Lorenzo: Also the comfort of jerseys are made for sweating. So beyond soccer and skating, you can wear it while running, biking, or anything.
So Lorenzo, you’ve built a reputation downtown with the Italian spot Pepe Rosso on Sullivan Street. And anyone who skateboards knows that Eli is a skater who needs no introduction. How did you two meet and how did this collaboration come about?
Eli: That's the beauty of living in New York. And Pepe Rosso is just a Downtown spot for a lot of mutual friends of mine, not even skate related but guys like Supreme OGs. I think I just met Lorenzo going there like 10 years ago or more.
Lorenzo: It has always been a hang out spot where everyone can grab a bite and go.
Eli: I definitely met you 10 years ago from just eating there but we became closer friends within the past five years. Lorenzo was making these soccer jerseys and outfits already. I'm just a fan of soccer jerseys and attire. And I loved skating in it already. So I was always asking him for these jerseys that he made. I have skate clips on my Instagram of the original ones he made before we even did this collaboration. I just thought it was great to skate in and eventually he hit me up with the idea to do something.
Lorenzo: Yeah, about three years ago I made a soccer jersey that was inspired by Italy's '94 World Cup. Because Italy didn't qualify for the World Cup in 2018. So I connected with my friend from the brand IUTER in Italy who has connections to factories over there. I told him that I wanted to do a jersey. And even though Italy didn't play the World Cup that year, the jersey was very successful. The quality was great and it received a great reaction from people. I gifted one to Eli and he loved it. After that, I made another jersey in a white colorway and then a tracksuit inspired by that '94 and ‘96 Italian National Football team. I knew Eli had his own brand and we started to talk about doing something together. It took some time because we kept tweaking and fixing details. When you're producing in Italy, you can make good quality stuff. So we didn't stop working on it until it met the quality we wanted.
Lorenzo: I noticed your brand ‘No Kiddin!’ Has been around for a while. What came first for you? The food or the fashion? Tell me how ‘No Kiddin!’ started and what message are you trying to send out with it?
Lorenzo: Yeah, I really started this in 2007. But for many years the stock was always small and I only made it for friends but never tried to do any crazy amounts of production. I mean, I always worked within the music and streetwear scenes since I was 14. I used to work for a record label in Italy and made all their merch. It was called Dig It International in Milan and the focus was dance and house music. The label was a distributor and owned multiple indie labels. I did some music production for them, and produced a song called Carnival for the artist S Cabar. I used to have my own brands as well but I've always been around this.
How did you come up with the name?
Lorenzo: I was looking for a name and then someone said "No Kidding!" At the moment, I loved that name and I just stuck with it. From there, I started making T-shirts with iconic American pop art, like the first one I did was a play off Italian Ices from Gino's. I always loved American logos that you can find in pizzerias or whatever. That was one of my first T-shirts and I sold it at stores like Union New York. The other brand I owned prior to ‘No Kiddin!’ was called Our Thing from 2001-2006. The brand was sold at Union New York and other stores in the United States and Europe. Little by little, I started making other graphics but I always wanted to make something nice, like a soccer jersey.
I see this collaboration is centered on this dope YouTube channel that Eli started last year dubbed Crash Flow. You’ve had some great guests on the ‘Each One, Teach One’ interview series such as Earsnot and Ricky Powell. Could you speak more about why you started that YouTube channel and what type of content you’re looking to bring to that?
Eli: Although I've been putting out content on the YouTube channel, Crash Flow is more of my philosophy and take on skating. But I’m just using platforms like YouTube and Instagram to share that. I mean, it's kind of a way for me to give back and bring, not just my view or take on skating, but to also highlight the people around me. For example, we did one video on Pepe Rosso because it's about capturing everything that's related to this lifestyle. As far as starting it goes, the pandemic encouraged me to put more stuff out there when everything shut down. Although the channel is primarily skating based, it also shows that skating is the base of all these other lifestyles. Whether it's food, art or people it seeks to show what I think skateboarding is. I don't want to consider it to be just a YouTube channel because it's still being formed and there are other platforms and ideas I want to pursue. So that's what Crash Flow is for me. It was a project at the time and I want to keep it going. And I thought it made sense to do this collaboration because I like wearing this as skate gear. And as you probably know, skating and fashion is kind of taking its own role and making a great impact on fashion. But really, it's just my own take on why I like skating and that's partly why you see this collaboration.
I was surprised to see that No Kiddin! collaborated with the OH WOW gallery a decade ago. I feel like both of you have really seen how much NYC streetwear has grown since the 2000s. I mean who would have ever envisioned Supreme opening a store in Milan. What are your thoughts on how that scene has developed?
Lorenzo: Since you mentioned the collaboration with the OH WOW Gallery, in December of 2020 I also collaborated with 4WORTHDOING on a T-shirt for ‘OUR LIVES IN T-SHIRTS’ at Miami Art Basel. Regarding Supreme, I mean it's a big brand now and Milan is a great city for them to be in. They're smart enough to open in a city like Milan because Milan has such a growing skate scene and I'm happy to see them get that.
Eli:I mean it's amazing to see the growth of a culture. Supreme still has a great team and James is notorious for how he did things. And you know, guys like myself and the skaters who I grew up around were a part of the original team and wore it back then. I think it's just proof in the pudding that you can really do it and it shows how influential that era was. Kids all around the world are now dressing like the '90s skateboarders I saw when I first popped up in New York.
As far as skateboarding is concerned, it just gets bigger and more mainstream, which is great. Now you're seeing it enter the Olympics and it's just gaining more growth and notoriety. And I'm happy to have a place in the culture as an older guy, especially when they're only young kids in it, especially in New York City now. It's just getting so huge, especially on the branding side with fashion and these companies having a lot more influence now. It's hard to say what's cooler or better because skateboarding has been pulled in so many different directions. And what Supreme has done is great because they've catered to skaters in every country they've opened. From the small local skaters to the OGs they invite in to work with. Whether it's for their store in Japan or hiring someone like Jeff Pang to run their store in Brooklyn. I think it's great.
And Eli, as a skateboarder, you’re one of few pro skaters who have successfully pursued opportunities within the realm of fashion and streetwear. From working behind the scenes at Diamond, launching your own namesake brand, to building skate brands like Becky Factory. As someone who has their eye on style, what do you love about ‘No Kiddin!’
I mean, I think it just goes back to exactly what we said at the beginning. Lorenzo had the perfect European soccer vibe and I loved that. And that's something I love to wear everyday. Now, it's not like I'm going out to dinner in this, but it's the type of uniform I would wear during the early day, when I'm out running some errands and then going out to skate. This style that he makes is just perfect for me. It's funny because I'll honestly wear that whole suit he made too. I just look like a soccer coach even with the Crash Flow logo on it. People must think I'm training for the Olympics or something. I like a lot of different things depending on my mood. Different styles from different areas, especially from different places in the world. But this is just one outfit I love and he hit it on the nose with the functionality of these pieces.
And speaking of skating, I believe the ten-year anniversary of your Thrasher cover at C-Bowl is coming next month.
Eli: That was one of those days you’ll never forget in your life. I was living in New York and took a bus back down to Massachusetts. And that hurricane I did took me quite some time, a little longer than I thought. I couldn't land it right away for the longest time. We got that photo and then I laid back and did this Kickflip Front 50. That was honestly one of my best days skating ever. I actually landed a harder trick that day at that pool and it didn't even get into the magazine. It's just how it goes sometimes because what comes out is what comes out. I'll say on a side note though, and Lorenzo knows that I'm down with a couple pizza shops, but I gave Stromboli Pizza in the LES that cover and they framed it and put it on the wall in the back. There's that famous photo of the Beastie Boys in front of their spot and then my cover right under it. Boy, that's how you know you made it in New York. When they put your Thrasher cover up in your favorite pizza spot.
Lastly, for Lorenzo, what’re your future plans for No Kiddin! Where do you want to take it?
Lorenzo: For now, I have some ideas, but nothing for sure yet. But I do want to make stuff that isn't just soccer. Maybe with IUTER I'll make a little capsule with them again that includes some sweatpants, T-shirts and hoodies. I have a surprise release coming soon that's a collaboration between ‘No Kiddin!’, Pepe Rosso, and IUTER.