Clothing Designer Nino Corleone of FLI PELICAN Talks Working With Lil Wayne And YMCMB

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There are two definite rules to winning: Your product must be awesome and product placement is everything. After XXL revealed their July/August cover to hip-hop heads, all eyes were on Wayne… Well, Wayne’s FLI PELICAN t-shirt. The gray, long-sleeved tee with the phrase “NO SUCKA S##T” etched across it was a win for the Atlanta-based streety luxury clothing brand that preaches living a ‘Pelicano lifestyle.’

The four-year-old collection started from creative restlessness in 26-year-old Detroit, Michigan native Nino Corleone who designs for the line, with the help of blog manager Gregorio il, artist Arezzo Gatti and brand manager Dreq Capone. Their goal is to take street wear and blend it with luxury garments and materials, and if you’re a fly individual, you definitely know about these four Pelicans. Nino talked to VIBE about his YMCMB collaborations and what’s in store for the line now that has all eyes are on them. -Niki McGloster


VIBE: We’ve all seen the XXL cover with Lil Wayne rockin’ a FLI PELICAN shirt, tell me how that collaboration happened.
A few months ago, I went down to Miami to meet with [YMCMB]. I kicked It with them and they liked the clothes genuinely; it was nothing I had to push on them or anything. They just picked the clothes up and wore it.. That’s one thing that I’ve been trying to stress to all of these artists that I have been doing work with. Doing something like that alone, speaks more than me being on video sets for hours trying to get people to wear clothes, so we good!

Nice. So they love your work, but what was the dialogue that you and Lil Wayne had? How did you get him to rock your shirt on the cover?
I got a funny story about that one. First time I went to Miami, we went to go meet homie at Hit Factory, and I was having a disagreement with my business partner in the cab on the way there going to Opa-locka. The whole time he is having the same conversation with me like, ‘Ay, bro, you didn’t bring no smalls?’ I was like, ‘No, I only got mediums.’ He was like, “Man, we need those smalls.” I told him to relax and so we get there, we passing out the shirts to everybody on the staff, and I hear [Lil Wayne] saying, ‘They ain’t bring my size. Aw man.’ So I actually had to double back and [make the trip to Opa-locka] again. [Laughs] we made some more specialty pieces for them: Some one-on-one stuff, some t-shirts, jackets, we did some YMCMB printed shirts and we did some sweatshirts with patches of mink, so everything worked out.

So wait, you guys did their official YMCMB shirts?
Well actually what happened is they ended up licensing to someone else. Their company came in and bought in on it. That was early that we had come in and done all that stuff. Now, they sold it off to some people.

Okay. So did you know he was going to wear the shirt for the cover, or did you just see the magazine cover online?
I got a phone call. The day that the call came, I was at Krystal’s in the drive-thru, and Lil Chuckee called me, like, ‘Ya’ll doing it big now, huh?’ I’m like, ‘What you talking bout, bruh?’ He was like, ‘Ya’ll out here on covers!’ I’m trying to figure out where it’s at because I haven’t seen it yet. He was trying to tell me what it looked like, but I seen it. I mean ever since then we’ve been getting great reception, it’s been so grand because we’ve been building the company for so long. Wayne was a great placement, but we been working with so many artists since then and not even artists, athletes as well. Just to get it to this point that is one of my largest accomplishments to this date and that is just breathtaking.

I’m glad that you began to speak about that because I know FLI PELICAN is getting more respect and love now since the cover, but you’ve been working with artists and celebs for awhile. Can you drop some names and any stories of people you’ve been working with?
Yeah definitely, Travis Porter. First and foremost, those are my good friends before anything.  We’ve put clothes of Darrelle Revis of the New York Jets, Teyana Taylor, Terrence J, Big Sean, Waka Flocka. I mean so many people.