Clothing brand hopes to bring art, hip-hop culture to Lindsay

Clothing brand Dark Alley Movement was started by a Lindsay native interested in highlighting hip hop culture

LINDSAY – When Lindsay native Leonel Varela-Perez chose a name for his clothing brand, he wanted to convey the message of moving through fear – “Like a dark alley,” he said. “The average person isn’t going to walk through it, but others will because they’re not scared.” Hence, Dark Alley Movement began. 

Varela-Perez, 30, started printing designs and lettering on clothing in 2020 as a means to pay the studio fees for aspiring rappers he was sponsoring at the time. His first batch of clothes was made up of 25 shirts with “Dark Alley” printed on them.

“We started selling shirts to fund our own little company, and before you know it the clothing started taking over everything,” Verla-Perez said. “It’s hard to make money off music. The clothing was actually bringing quick revenue back, so I decided to start it off as my own business.” 

Dark Alley Movement’s storefront opened on Mt. Vernon Avenue near downtown Lindsay on Feb. 21. Verela-Perez said it was important to him to have a store in his hometown, where he hopes to provide a space for local youth interested in art and hip-hop. 

“We just opened, and I already have a lot of kids that have walked in here and they feel the vibe, they know what we’re about,” Verla-Perez said. “Just by them seeing that someone who likes what they like is making a living off of it and being successful tells them that they can do it too.”

Varela-Perez has always been interested in street art and hip-hop, and hopes to bring those elements of music and culture to Lindsay through Dark Alley Movement. One project in the works at the store is what he calls a Freedom Wall. 

“It’s basically a big wooden wall where kids can come paint and try graffiti for free,” Verela-Perez said. 

Dark Alley Movement will also host a car show on June 5, where local car clubs will put their cars on display and small business vendors will sell goods and food. Vendor applications for the event can be filled out at the store, located at 247 N Mount Vernon Avenue. 

“The community is excited about having them here,” said Virginia Loya, board member of the Lindsay Chamber of Commerce. “They’re young, they’re motivated and they know everybody here in town. I think it’ll be good for our town.” 

Loya said that the store opening up could indicate a larger trend in Lindsay of business ramping up following the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Hopefully in the next year or two we can actually get more businesses downtown, because we need more businesses here,” Loya said. “I can see it coming.” 

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