MEMES ON CLOTHES. BRILLIANT.
Photos: The M.O.C. Brand
Memes: You know 'em, you love 'em, and now, thanks to the M.O.C. Brand, you can wear a bunch of them on your chest (or head, if you so choose). The Memes on Clothes Brand has a straightforward proposition—put memes on clothes—but they execute it in such a simple, beautiful way. Also, they operate with lightning quickness, much like the speed of internet memes themselves. We cover these dudes' work a ton, but finally sat them down to chat about their brand's origin story and try and put more of a face to the dudes behind the GENIUS Drake Yolo Polo. Peep the conversation after the jump!
MTV STYLE: You guys have made a name for yourselves by creating clothes from internet memes, but very few people know who you are! Please introduce yourselves—who you are, where you're based, how you met, and where the idea for the original Drake Dada lean polo came from.
JOSEPH EVANS: Tony [Cerniglia] and I were both born and raised in Beloit, WI. I've known him for years now. Even before M.O.C. began, we had both been involved in separate clothing lines in our area. It's funny how it all started because I had just happened to see Tony at a gas station one day, and before he left, he showed me a prototype of one of the first designs we did.
TONY CERNIGLIA: During the peak of the Drake leaning meme, I came across one of a yellow polo-style shirt with him on it. I thought it was hilarious and that people just might buy it if it were real, so I made some. Joseph had built a strong Instagram following, so I gave him one of the polos to show to the masses to see if there would be interest in it. I was blown away and humbled by the success of that design, and the M.O.C. Brand was born.
EVANS: I thought the idea was golden. I posted it on every social website that I had including the sites of my own clothing line, asking if people would buy one if they were for sale, and the feedback was phenomenal. I had never seen a more wild reaction to anything like it. Soon after (literally 48 hours), we had a shop up with a picture of the polo in a couple different colors. The shop wasn't anything fancy, but it got the job done. I would send polos to guys like Dennis Todisco over at Nike Inc. and 40oz Van, DJ Mano, Swopes the photographer—all who have large followings and definitely have an influence on popular culture among young adults. They helped that first polo to really catch on over the internet.
Drake's Dada meme gets a shirt in the Yolo Polo.
Photo: Instagram/Drake Yolo Polo
And why a polo initially? Rather than a T-shirt or sweatshirt or something else?
EVANS: Although we've expanded to many different kinds of pieces in our shop, I think the main reason a polo was chosen was because we wanted the polo to seem sort of like a Ralph Lauren parody or like a perfect mixture of a classic look and popular culture fusing together. It's something that hasn't really been done in this way before. That's what made us unique and why I believe things really took off the way they did.
You see a lot of meme-y screen printing in street wear today, but M.O.C. is different in that you prefer embroidery. Tell me about that choice.
CERNIGLIA: We just had never seen pop culture captured in embroidery before. You can go anywhere and find a shirt that's screen printed with someone's face on it or a crazy celebrity moment. But to see a small embroidered image or moment on a polo felt different and iconic. I don't personally have that much background in embroidery besides using it for separate projects I've been involved with in the past. I just had a vision of what I wanted the design to look like on the polo initially and knew where to take it to help it become a reality!
After the Yolo polo, you branched out to other memes. How do you decide which memes to turn into clothes?
EVANS: It really all depends on how popular the meme is at the time. If we see EVERYBODY posting about it and if it's really funny. Most of the time, it's unanimous which memes we decide to make.
Wear Pharrell's hat on your shirt.
Photos: Getty Images/The M.O.C. Brand
Also, your response time with the Pharrell's hat stuff was SO FAST.
EVANS: Once it's decided that we are gonna do a new meme, we like to do it as quickly as possible, preferably within 24-48 hours of deciding. It's even more funny if people see it, and the meme is still fresh on their minds. It's our niche in a way. The memes are made so quickly, and we are able to embroider it just as quickly.
What's the biggest thing you've learned since starting M.O.C.? Where do you hope to take it from here?
EVANS: A couple things I have personally learned from all of this is the power of social media and just the internet in general. The connections and people that I have been able to work with over the past couple of months have been amazing experiences.
CERNIGLIA: The biggest thing I have learned is how valuable relationships are in the ultra-competitive fashion industry and that providing a quality product combined with a high level of customer service is the key to long term success.
EVANS: My ultimate dream would be that whenever we make a new design, we're able to fly out and meet the person starring in the meme and get a picture of him or her in their own meme apparel. I feel like that would show our fans and even other people who are just finding out about us that it's all in good fun and demonstrate that even these people who are being made into memes don't take themselves too seriously and can laugh it off.