Meet Haitian Luxury Menswear Designers Ron & Ron
According to Biography
On the cutting edge of men’s fashion design since the late 1990s, twin brothers Ronald and Rony Delice have become known for creating fine suits that incorporate bold color combinations with edgy styling. Their Ron & Ron menswear label, worn by such celebrities as Will Smith and Samuel L. Jackson, has brought the brothers both critical acclaim and financial success, and has earned them a respected place among what Daily News Record writer Stan Gellers called “a hip new breed of 30-something tailors with a real passion for clothing.”
The brothers, born in 1966 in Haiti, were the two surviving siblings among a set of quadruplets. They are fraternal twins: Ronald is older than Rony by ten seconds. With their five other siblings, the brothers grew up in a family of modest means in Haiti. They wore uniforms to their Catholic school, but enjoyed dressing up in their “Sunday best” clothes for church. Their father was a tailor and their mother, who worked as a seamstress, taught the brothers the importance of presenting a good appearance even though they could not afford elegant clothing.
As Ronald observed to Kathryn Wexler of the Miami Herald, their mother used to tell them, “When you have no money in your pocket…the way you present yourself as far as your clothes, your demeanor, makes a whole big difference. They don’t categorize you if you’re always well presented.”
The brothers moved to New York City at age 11, and during their high school years they enjoyed visiting upscale Manhattan department stores to look at the latest clothing. They went on to attend the prestigious Fashion Institute of Technology, and after graduating went to Europe for a year, where Ronald trained with expert tailors in France and Rony studied fine tailoring in Italy. As Ronald commented to Black Enterprise writer Demetria Lucas, “Fashion is in our blood. It just comes naturally.”
Ronald and Rony began working at Beau Brummel, a men’s boutique in the Soho district of Manhattan, in the 1980s. “They were the best dressed guys in the store from the day they started working,” the boutique’s former owner told Wexler. Indeed, customers often liked what the brothers wore more than what was available in the store. “Everyone kept asking us where we had our suits made,” Ronald told Daily News Record contributor Stan Gellers.
After customers began asking to buy the same suits that the brothers themselves were wearing, Beau Brummel’s owners asked the Delices to create a signature line for the boutique. The brothers’ designs matched vibrant colors with striking details such as multiple buttons and top stitching—elements that Ronald and Rony link to their roots in Haiti, where even the poorest people wear their clothes with inimitable flair. “Our style was totally different from the stuff that the store carried,” Rony told Lucas. “We have always just done our own thing.” –
In 1998 the brothers launched their own clothing and accessories label, Ron & Ron. The business has performed extraordinarily well. “Our first year went smoothly,” Ronald told Lucas. “Usually, even if you know what you’re doing, it’s terrible. But we were very focused.” With an initial investment of $35,000 from their savings and those of Ronald’s wife, a toy designer and graphic artist, the brothers built Ron & Ron into a major force in the men’s fashion industry. By 2003 the company saw annual sales of more than $500,000.
The Delices’ fashion sense, which according to Hardbeatnews “combines class with a hint of rogue,” quickly attracted fans among the celebrity world. The brothers have dressed such well-known figures as actors, athletes including Latrell Sprewell and Steve Francis, and the musician Andre 3000 of Outkast, and have designed the men’s suits worn on the TV series Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Their designs have also been seen in major fashion publications, such as Vogue (France), Cosmopolitan (Italy), and Elle (Italy). Critics have admired Ron & Ron clothing for its intricate tailoring and its original combinations of texture and color.
The look was described by Stan Gellars in Daily News Record as “rock & roll meets Milan” with shorter jacket lengths and unexpected details such as patch pockets and topstitching in red and blue, the colors of the Haitian flag. With suits ranging in price from $1,750 to as much as $8,500, Ron & Ron has clearly found a niche in the luxury market. But the brothers also keep more humble elements in their collections as well; they always feature a denim piece, according to the Miami Herald, because the fabric is so popular among poorer people in Haiti.
In 2002 the Delice brothers won an international menswear design award from Gen Art, which showcases emerging talent. That same year Ronald and Rony also won Fashion Group International’s Rising Star award. Though their showroom features made-to-measure designs, the brothers have recently increased their wholesale division.
Ronald, who owns an apartment with his wife in Paris and spends every other month in that city, hopes to bring a Ron & Ron boutique there in the near future. Plans are also in the works to open Ron & Ron stores in New York, Los Angeles, and Atlanta. At the same time, however, the brothers insist that custom-made designs will always be their primary focus because they enjoy the close interaction with customers.
Their success, the brothers have noted, is rooted in their creative drive. “We’re artists more than business people,” Ronald told Lucas in Black Enterprise. Their work, Ronald commented in Hardbeatnews, “is in our blood. And when you love something from the heart, there’s no holding back.” Indeed, the brothers’ impact on the fashion world suggests that their designs will grow ever more popular. As New York Times writer Penelope Green pointed out in a feature on the Delice brothers, “In Haitian culture, the loa, or spirit, of the twins is a force to be reckoned with.”