A day prior to the 2013 NBA draft I had the opportunity to chat with Jhoanna Alba, founder/chief visionaire of ALBA Legacy custom suiting. ALBA Legacy has been in the game for a while now (Almost 21 years), designing chic custom suiting for pro athletes. Yup, Jhoanna and her team are responsible for making some of your favorite ball players look fly off the court or field. From greats like Magic Johnson to current stars like Dwight Howard and Russell Westbrook, ALBA Legacy has worked with them all. Jhoanna’s latest creative task was assembling custom suiting for some of the newest talents to arrive to the NBA, as they prepared for the biggest moment of their career, the 2013 NBA Draft.
When I met with Jhoanna she welcomed me with open arms, as she introduced me to her team, some of her clients she was fitting for at the moment (Including Victor Oladipo), and even gave me a brief tour around her work space. During our interview Jhoanna was frequently moving, making sure things were running smoothly, her work ethic is real! I thank Jhoanna for taking time out of her busy schedule to talk with me. Check out my interview with Jhoanna Alba below.
Jhoanna preparing looks for NBA Draft prospect Nerlens Noel
MTS: How did ALBA Legacy get it’s start in sports?
JA: I use to purchase ties for Ervin “Magic” Johnson, and he actually is the person who motivated me to start my own company 21 years ago.
MTS: What does ALBA stand for?
JA: ALBA stands for a “A Light Beyond Appearance” It’s not just what you’re wearing, It’s being able to express yourself by what you wear. Our slogan is “The look of your Legacy” because were here dressing these 19 and 20 year old’s who are beginning their legacy. We will be there for every step of the way, ALBA has a story we want to share with the world. Were actually living our legacy as we speak.
MTS: Does ALBA Legacy specialize in sports?
JA: Yes, mainly sports. I found a niche that these guys needed custom clothes and a stylist at the same time. They were getting clothes custom made, and they were just basic styles, I saw the need to tweak it a little bit with more of a modern flair.
MTS: I see you’re styling NBA Draft prospect Nerlens Noel for the 2013 NBA Draft, is he your only client for this upcoming Draft?
JA: No, we have Nerlens Noel, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Steven Adams, Victor Oladipo, just to name a few. Were actually dressing 12 people.
MTS: I thought it was a great idea allowing fans to choose (From top 3) Nerlens Noel NBA Draft attire. How did that all come about?
JA: That was actually from Nerlens Camp, his marketing team had the opportunity to do something fun, allowing the fans to vote, and we made it happen.
MTS: Can you name a few pro athletes you had the opportunity to work with in the past?
JA: Russell Westbrook, Dwight Howard, Magic Johnson has been my client for over 20 years, we represent over 1500 professional athletes. Baseball, Basketball, Football, Hockey, Soccer, quite a few.
MTS: You have a whole team too right?
JA: Yes we have 7 designers total.
MTS: How much time and effort goes into designing a suit for a pro athlete?
JA: OK, for example with Victor Oladipo, I was in Atlanta at the time, and got a phone call to meet Victor in Heesville, IN. That was a week ago. I went to the basketball facility where he was working out, measured him up, and he didn’t pick not one thing out. I designed everything, delivered it here (NYC) and today is the first time he’s seeing everything.
MTS: Any current trends you’re suggesting to your clients right now?
JA: I’m a fan of color, I love color! I’m not a fan of matching, I like to mix-and-match. I try to cater to their personality, for example Nerlens is so fun, and Victor is more serious. It really depends of the person, we like to have their clothes represent their personality.
MTS: More and more athletes are getting into fashion, is there anyone in particular you would like to work with in the future?
JA: I’ve been doing this for so long, I’ve worked with quite a few people, I dressed Lebron James his first four years, I’ve worked with Carmelo Anthony, I’ve worked with a variety of different athletes. I feel like I’ve been blessed to work with almost everybody that anybody would want to meet or dress. Every year we get new people that come, its just blessing, I think I worked with everybody I could imagine working with.
MTS: So there is no special person you didn’t get the opportunity to work with?
JA: I just want to meet Oprah (Laughs), unfortunately we don’t make women’s clothing.
MTS: Let’s say I’m a 6’6 athlete getting drafted to the NBA, I hire you to assemble a suit for me, what would you have me wearing?
JA: Hmm, I’m a big fan of plaid, I can see you in plaid, or maybe like an old school houndstooth pattern, vintage feel. Definitely some type of pattern.