Rello definitely isn’t someone who lets his creativity go to waste. The 32-year-old, along with his close friends Joe Robinson (aka Joe Freshgoods), Des Owusu, and Victor Pitre, first opened Chicago’s Fat Tiger Workshop back in 2014 before moving to its current location in 2017. The multifaceted creative also operates his own streetwear label, Vita Worldwide, and Paradise Design House, a project that focuses more on his passion to grow as a contemporary artist.
Before all of these endeavors came to fruition, Jones got his start working at the popular Chicago streetwear boutique Leaders 1354, a place where he says many of his generation’s creatives from the Windy City first got their feet wet.
“Leaders was the first streetwear store here in, like, 2004-2005. It was the first store to show us that independent look at clothes and fashion. That opened up my eyes a lot,” he tells Complex. “Guys that look like me, where I’m from, were doing something different. I made picture T-shirts in high school and sold them during lunch. It was just a hustle to buy shoes, but after meeting some people at Leaders, it connected some of the dots for me, as far as turning art and design into a business.”
Things got serious for Rello around 2006, the period when he began to learn more about what it took to operate a brand and improved as a graphic designer. This was also when one of his most popular Vita designs, “Chicago Over Everything,” first released. Since then, the phrase has been repurposed, and knocked off, in a multitude of ways across T-shirts and hoodies. Vita’s other designs have caught the attention of big names like LeBron James, Quavo, and SZA over the years.
“Chicago doesn’t get enough respect and love for what it has going on. If you’re a true Chicago person, you really feel the ‘Chicago Over Everything’ shit. You know what it’s like to grow up and try to make it, to fall in love, to grow up in this city. You lived through it. That’s the beauty of it. The design is simple, but the message speaks to a lot of people.”
A lot of Rello’s art focuses on positive representation and black empowerment, something he feels is very important, given the current social climate. In May, he released his “Everything Starts With a Woman” collection, a line centered around the character Ruby Bad Mouse, a black reimagining of Minnie Mouse inspired by civil rights activist and actress Ruby Dee. He also credits his daughter with inspiring him to design more pieces she can relate to as she grows up.
At ComplexCon Chicago, he will have a hand in multiple installations. Vita Worldwide will be dropping some exclusive designs at its booth. Rello will also operate a section dedicated to his personal art. It will feature the release of his first collectible vinyl figure of his Mickey Mouse-inspired character, Ozzy the Bad Mouse—think something in the vein of KAWS’ popular BFF and Companion statues.
Rello's next move is to put a heavier focus on his art, with his own gallery stationed in Chicago currently in the works. —Michael DeStefano