People 05 October 2017
Behind the styles of some of the greatest athletes including NFL hotshots and NBA rockstars, stands Jhoanna Alba, the founder and principal designer of ALBA: Bespoke Clothing. She has created hundreds of styles for her famous clientele and has dressed sports heroes like Magic Johnson and Russell Westbrooke.
Having such a niche of unique customers, Alba has had quite the ride during her career. Her success lies in her ability to create what her clients want in a short time span.
We sat down with the athletic style guru to ask about her success in fashion and find out what it is like to dress superstars like Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Andre Drummond.
How did you end up in fashion?
My mother taught me how to sew by hand when I was six years old. I started sketching designs when I was 10 and making my own clothes. I always knew I wanted to be in the fashion industry.
One of my first jobs was working at a tuxedo shop in Beverly Hills. At 16, I was managing the highest volume tuxedo shop in the country. I loved working and styling Grooms for their wedding. I was styling major events and fell in love with menswear.
Tell us a little about your experience coming up in the fashion world - how competitive is it?
When I started my first company at the age of 21, I asked a lot of questions to potential clients. What would separate me from other companies? I took a lot of notes and executed a game plan. Feedback is important for the growth of any company. As far as competition, I do not believe there is competition in the fashion industry. Everyone has their own vision and purpose.
What's the craziest request you've ever had whilst making clothes?
I recently made this for Andre Drummond for The Espy's. Being 6'11, 280lbs, this was a unique design we created. We hand painted the jacket to give it a splash of color and completed the look we were going for. Red is Andre's favorite color so it was important to incorporate it on his suit.
How would you define your style?
Classic with a modern flare.
What is it like creating outfits for athletes - is it difficult given their different body dimensions?
Every client has their own input. It's a collaboration and my job is to educate them. With 36 different measurements, our master tailors cut the perfect fit for each individual.
How is it competing against the big male names within the industry?
Having a production house in DTLA, we are able to produce suits within 24 hours. ALBA is a very customer service driven company with our brand being the main focus. Other designers have their own business mottos that we respect.
What's your busiest season?
We are busy year round being we service NBA, MLB, and NFL. In addition, we have partnered with Robert Mata, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, stylists in which we manufacture clothes for the HBO hit show Ballers as well as his personal wardrobe. We also service clients in the entertainment industry, so nonetheless, we are busy year round.
What's next for you this year?
We have partnered with a family from Colombia where we have hired single mothers to make hand made custom shoes ranging from size 10-19. Our ultimate goal is to build a school across the street from the factory where their children can get an education, while their mothers work. It has been an honor working with Donum, which means blessed in Latin.
5 Min Read
Elizabeth Warren majorly called out "arrogant billionaire" Michael Bloomberg for his history of silencing women through NDAs and closed-door settlement negotiations. Sound familiar? Probably because we already have a president like that. At this point, Bloomberg may just spend the remainder of his (hopefully) ill-fated presidential campaign roasting on a spit over a fire sparked by the righteous anger of women. A lesser punishment than he deserves, if you ask me.
At last night's Democratic debate, Michael Bloomberg could barely stammer out an answer to a question on whether or not he would release any of his former accusers from their nondisclosure agreements. His unsatisfactory response was basically a halting list of what he has done for certain nondescript women in his time at City Hall and within his own company.
But that certainly wasn't enough for Elizabeth Warren, nor should it be, who perfectly rephrased his defense as, "I've been nice to some women." Michael Bloomberg is basically that weird, problematic Uncle that claims he can't be racist, "Because I have a Black friend." In a society where power is almost always in the hands of straight, white, cisgendered, men being "nice" to a lucky few is in no way a defense for benefiting from and building upon the systematic silencing of all marginalized communities, let alone women. Stop and frisk, anybody?
Here is a brief clip of the Warren v. Bloomberg exchange, which I highly recommend. It is absolutely (and hilariously) savage.
But let's talk about the deeper issues at hand here (other than Warren being an eloquent badass).
Michael Bloomberg has been sued multiple times, yet each time he was able to snake his way out of the problem with the help of his greatest and only superpower: cold, hard cash. Each time these allegations have come up, in Warren's words, he throws "a chunk of money at the table" and "forces the woman to wear a muzzle for the rest of her life."
As reported by Claire Lampen of The Cut, here are just a few of his prior indiscretions.
- Pregnancy discrimination—Bloomberg reportedly told a former employee of his to "kill it," in reference to her developing fetus.
- Sexual harassment—You could literally write a book on this subject (someone did), but for the sake of brevity...
"I'd like to do that piece of meat" - Michael Bloomberg in reference to various women at his company.
- Undermining #MeToo—Not only did he defend the accused, but he went on the disparage accusers every step of the way.
- Defaming transgender people—Though he claims to support trans rights, he has also been qupted multiple times as referring to trans women as "some guy wearing a dress."
Yeah... That's not a winning formula for me, Mike.
Furthermore, Warren points out the simple fact that if, as Bloomberg claims, these instances were simply big misunderstandings (He was just joking around!) then why go to all the trouble to cover them up? Does Michael Bloomberg think women can't take a joke? Or can we only surmise that the truth of these events are far darker and dirtier than we could even imagine?
Certain commentators have called Elizabeth Warren's debate presence "agressive," especially in regards to this instance but also continually throughout her entire campaign. If asking poignant questions to known abusers who are seeking to further their own political power is considered "aggressive," then I am here for it. Bring on the aggressive women, please and thank you.
Calling a woman aggressive for being confidant and direct is a gendered complaint. You don't see anyone whining that Bernie is "aggressive" when he goes off on a screaming tangent. Also, have you seen our president? He's basically the poster boy for political temper tantrums. But still, it's Warren that is deemed "aggressive," for honing in on the exact issues that need to be considered in this upcoming election.
This type of derisory label is another aspect of how our society silences women—much like Bloomberg and his NDAs. Because "silencing" is more than just putting a "muzzle" on someone. It's refusing to listen to a person's cries for help. It's disregarding what a woman has to say, because she's too "aggressive." It's taking away someone's power by refusing to truly hear their side of the story. Because if you aren't listening, responding, or even just respecting someone's words, they may well have said nothing at all.
"Silence is the ocean of the unsaid, the unspeakable, the repressed, the erased, the unheard." - Renecca Solnit
Nondiscolusure agreements are a legal gag for people who have experienced harassment and abuse at the hands of those above them.
Gretchen Carlson, possibly the most famous person subject to an NDA, is one of these people. Her story is so well-known that it has even been immortalized on film, in 2019's Bombshell. Yet she is still forced to maintain her silence. She cannot tell her side of the story even when Hollywood can. She was cajoled into her current position after facing harassment in her workplace. She didn't have the power then to do more than accept her fate. And now, she doesn't have the power to tell her story.
She was, and still is being, silenced.
After her experiences, Carlson was moved to fight for all women to have the power over their truths. In a recent op-ed for the New York Times she declared: "I want my voice back. I want it back for me, and for all those silenced by forced arbitration and NDAs."
Carlson may still be tied to her NDA, but there are those who go a different route. Celeste Headlee, who wrote an op-ed on SWAAY about her experience, chose to break her nondisclosure agreement. Though doing so undoubtedly opened her up to numerous legal ramifications, she knew that she could no longer "sign away [her] right to justice."
Because that is what an NDA is all about, signing away a person's right to justice. Their story is their justice. Their NDA is a lock and key. Headlee may have broken through that lock, but she must face the consequences.
Neither Carlson nor Headlee are any less brave for how they have handled their journeys. They are both actively working to shift the cultural and political norms that led them here, and their work will, with hope and time, lead to real change. But they are just two drops in an ocean of women who are held hostage by their nondisclosure agreements, by men like Michael Bloomberg, and by a society that would rather silence them than let truth and justice be had.