Recently, Exclusive Game, an Atlanta custom clothing boutique started by Teheran Jones, unintentionally found its way into a viral moment when 21 Savage told YK Osiris that his all Gucci outfit had him looking like "a suitcase."
Jones, who also laughed at the IG story, designed the red leather jacket with Gucci monogram details YK Osiris was wearing. It’s a popular style he's made for others over the last 10 years, but it had never been critiqued like that before. Jones told YK Osiris he just wasn’t wearing it properly. "The jacket is marvelous, but the outfit was horrible bro," he told him over FaceTime. But regardless of the playful jabs, Jones said the moment was good for business.
“I got a lot of orders for that jacket [after that happened],” says Jones. “I gained 35,000 followers [on Instagram] off that. I’ve never gained 35,000 off a rapper in my life.”
Jones, who is originally from Queens, is an industry veteran who has been catering to an impressive list of celebrity clientele that includes Diddy, Future, 50 Cent, Jamie Foxx, and LeBron James, since 2003. The Atlanta-based entrepreneur repurposes luxury textiles into one-of-a-kind clothing you can't buy at a store. His work has appeared in music videos like Nelly's "Air Forces Ones," in the pages of magazines like XXL, and in the ring—boxer Gervonta Davis wore custom red and green attire to a recent title fight—for nearly two decades.
He started out in his Brooklyn apartment in the Aughts capitalizing on the popularity of Mitchell and Ness throwback jerseys, but he would produce the jerseys that nobody was making, like players’ old Pop Warner or high school jerseys, and sell them for $500 a pop. Former NFL linebacker Takeo Spikes and his Buffalo Bills teammates were some of his first major clients. He also sold to New York Knicks players and other pro athletes, rappers, and celebrities.
“I have pictures of everything I ever did, all those jerseys. Takeo Spikes and the Buffalo Bills was my first time I ever flew on a private jet. They flew me to Buffalo and it was crazy, bro. It was a moment,” Jones tells Complex. “To be honest, that was the dream. I was supposed to be an athlete. I used to play football. For me to fly into Buffalo, get a private jet, a man holding a sign with my name on it, you know what I'm saying? Then bringing me into the facility with all the players, like the dressing room, and they gave me my own little room and shit. That's something I'll never forget.”
During the 2000s Jones worked closely with some of the era’s biggest rappers, like Lil Jon, Lil Scrappy, and Lil Wayne. He still proudly shows people his work for Nelly in the “Air Force Ones” video. It was a major look that helped him catch momentum early on in his career. But one of his biggest repeat customers was Big Meech and the BMF crew, which is how he was introduced to Jeezy. Jones and Jeezy would become close friends, and he eventually became the rapper’s personal stylist throughout the Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101 rollout. They still work together today. Jones designed the leather BMF basketball jersey Jeezy wore during his Verzuz battle with Gucci Mane. He was actually the first one to put a snowman on a jersey for him, and the symbol is now synonymous with the Atlanta rap legend.
“It was a joke, for real. I wasn't too sure about it. I was like, ‘Who the fuck is going to wear a snowman on a shirt or a jersey?’ Man, he loved that motherfucker, bro. That went viral,” says Jones, who added that his first real check was from Def Jam for styling Jeezy. “When he went to get his record deal in New York, we went uptown to Harlem. [The snowman] is all in the windows. At the time we were young, so I was more excited about, ‘Damn, this my shit,’ but I wasn't really getting paid off my shit. I wasn’t thinking like that back then.” But things are different now.
Brooklyn and Buckhead, Georgia, are roughly 870 miles away from each other and the drive is over 13 hours between each location. But during his interview with Complex, Jones tries to provide as much of an IRL boutique experience as he can over FaceTime. He starts in his newly opened consignment shop. Crystal chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and black wooden countertops accented by snakeskin give the atmosphere a luxurious feel. Its next to the original store and filled with items like Supreme x The North Face puffers and 400% Be@rbricks standing side by side in the display window. Then he walks next door to the main shop where Exclusive Game’s one-of-a-kind creations come to life.
He shows a rack of fabrics bearing logos from some of the world’s most iconic fashion houses, like Louis Vuitton and Gucci. The rack next to it holds completed pieces including a jacket made from a Shawn Stüssy x Dior scarf, and a coat made of Gucci scarves reminiscent of the one worn by French Montana on the cover of XXL.
Exclusive Game's brick and mortar location, which is stationed on the same block as Icebox jewelry store, another go-to destination in the city, first opened its doors nine years ago in 2012. The shop's original intention was to be a destination for celebrity clients, but nowadays it is a must-shop for anyone who wants to stop by. Jones recalls initially being nervous about relocating from New York to Atlanta, but he was selling a lot of items down South. He had built up a solid reputation with locals, peddling his creations out out of the trunk of his car and traveling to appointments in the early stages of his career. He knew he was filling a void in the city.
“When I first opened my first store, I was scared. I was like, ‘Man, what if nobody shows up, what if I don't get no sales?,’” he recalls. “But I had a customer come in the first day. He bought a T-shirt for $40. And I was more excited [about that] than selling a $500 jersey.”
When it comes to actually deciding what to make next, Jones says he lets the fabrics speak to him. It’s how a Gucci scarf becomes a coat, or leather covered in Louis Vuitton’s monogram becomes a bucket hat. He treats the zippers, trims, and lining like pieces of a puzzle that can completely transform a piece. Once the puzzle is solved, everything is handmade by his team of seamstresses in Atlanta. For an additional charge, Jones says he can create something in a day, but his usual time table from start to finish for items is about a week. Prices start at $2,000 and escalate from there.
He pivoted during the pandemic by selling face masks made of luxury textiles, but says Exclusive Game hasn’t experienced any major financial setbacks in recent months, a fact made even more surprising when Jones reveals he doesn’t have an online store. Aside from handling business though, Jones says the pandemic has given him time to consider things he never had before.
“[The pandemic] has taught me a lot about myself. Me and Meek Mill was just having this talk yesterday. I guess it gave us a chance to find ourselves. We had a whole hour talk about this, me, Meek, and Fab. It gave us time to sit back and see who we are now,” Jones tells Complex. “This summer, I was on a kayak. I never kayaked in my life. I stay on the river and I never thought about getting in there. I never had time. I learned more about who I am. I got to spend more time with my kids. So it's been a gift and a curse.”
Many people liken Jones’ bespoke luxury creations to the iconic work of Dapper Dan. The man himself gave Jones his stamp of approval, calling him “the leader and next in line.”
“That was a big co-sign, man. I respect Dapper Dan for what he did for the culture,” says Jones. “The funny part, I was at his house years ago, before I was even thinking about doing clothes, with my uncle. They were getting Dapper Dan pieces made and shit. It's so funny.”
During our interview, Jones pauses to answer a phone call. Moneybagg Yo, who Jones calls one of his top clients, had referred someone to his shop and they were reaching out. It’s a perfect example of how word of mouth brings new customers to Exclusive Game every day. Eventually, Jones leaves his seat on the sales floor and walks to a back room. A table is covered with photographs of him standing next to iconic figures including Chris Tucker, Andre 3000, Jeezy, and Gunna. In one photo, he stands beside both Rick Ross and Shaquille O’Neal. Once again, Jones pauses the conversation when legendary celebrity jeweler Johnny Dang FaceTimes him. The conversation is brief with both mostly exchanging laughs. Dang is another frequent client of the shop who will often be seen rocking Exclusive Game’s customized luxury bomber jackets.
And Jones’ list of A-list clientele just keeps growing. Rap’s next generation is shopping with him now, too—think names like Polo G, NBA Youngboy, and Lil Baby—but he wants to make sure he keeps evolving. He’s planning to open a second location in Los Angeles this year. He’s come a long way since making jerseys and transitioned nicely into custom designer pieces, but he’s not sure what’s next for his offering.
“I was out here just trying to make the living. I was broke, trying to make a way, to be honest. You know how it is in New York. It's rough. I found a way with these jerseys. That shit changed my life overnight,” says Jones. “I thought it was something that would last three months. Twenty years later, I'm still doing what I'm doing.”