The North Texan Online UNT North Texan contents UNT North Texan feature stories UNT North Texan eagle tale UNT  North Texan alumni news UNT North Texan feedback
MoreUNT North Texan time tracksUNT newsUNT North Texan contact usUNT North Texan past issues
Suiting Up, Jay Lombardo keeps professional athletes, celebrities and regular guys looking their best by Rick Mauch


story extras

Lombardo photo shoot

other features

Gone to North Texas

Sleepless Nights

Suiting Up

International Reach



Much like the Dallas Cowboys, Lombardo Custom Apparel is a fixture in North Texas.

The legendary store founded by Jay Lombardo ('86) is the place many Dallas Cowboys, Dallas Stars and other sports figures such as Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and NFL Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith go when they want to look their best off the field.

"I've always loved clothing," says Lombardo, whose mother is a former fashion model and whose father was "a big dresser."

Lombardo has owned the apparel company for more than 20 years and still can be found advising clients on the design of their clothing. He considers every customer a friend — and not just the celebrities.

Along with their new suits, they get plenty of advice on the types of fabrics and cuts that complement their size and shape. And the ever-friendly Lombardo offers hugs large enough to make an onlooker think he's greeting long-lost relatives.

"It's the personal touch," says Mavericks coach Avery Johnson, who began buying his suits from Lombardo while still a player with the Mavericks. "He feels like a friend. He doesn't feel like a guy selling clothes."

Jay Lombardo at his storeExpert on style

Lombardo got started in his clothing career as a student at North Texas. He studied public relations and took business courses, already planning to use his degree to one day own and promote his own business in the clothing industry.

"When I was at North Texas, guys used to always ask me what to wear," he says.

So he worked out a deal to sell a line of wholesale clothing from the Dallas Apparel Mart. And the first place he went for customers was a place he knew well.

"They gave me some of their samples, and I took them up to school and sold them to all of my fraternity brothers and friends," says Lombardo, a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon.

A few years later, he came up with an idea that took him to a higher level.

"There was a real need to combine off-the-rack instant gratification with old world tailoring," he says.

Then one day a couple of Dallas Cowboys called on him to make them look their best.

"From there, we ended up with Landry and other Cowboys," Lombardo says. "It was something to be in my mid-20s and having somebody like Tom Landry and corporate CEOs asking me how to dress."

Winning reputation

It wasn't long before Lombardo's reputation began to spread. Today, a tour of his store might reveal a black suit with purple pinstripes waiting to be shipped to San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson or a blue/brown mixed suit for Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young.

And you never know who might be on their way in or out, such as former Dallas Cowboys director of player personnel Gil Brandt, a customer for nearly two decades.

"He's the Michael Jordan and Roger Staubach of his business," Brandt says. Staubach is a customer, by the way.

Lombardo also has clothed comedians such as Steve Harvey, legendary singer Tony Bennett and former presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani. He's even had a member from the cast of HBO's The Sopranos in his store.

Green roots

Born in the Bronx, Lombardo went to high school first in New York and then in Australia when he and his mother moved to her home country after his father died. But they soon found themselves back in the United States, and Lombardo graduated from high school in Richardson.

His love of sports, which makes him a natural fit for helping today's athletes, runs in the family. Lombardo played intramural sports, including rugby, in college. And he'll tell anyone who will listen about his son, Nick, a high school sophomore, and daughter, Lexi, a seventh-grader, who are both swimmers.

While photos of all sorts of sports personalities and events adorn Lombardo's store, he's proudest of his UNT memorabilia.

"Oh, man, I love North Texas," Lombardo says. "Gotta love the Mean Green."

And the feeling is certainly reciprocated. A couple of Lombardo's steadiest clients are head football coach Todd Dodge and athletic director Rick Villarreal.

"It's easy to see right away that Jay cares about making someone look good," Dodge says, "and that makes them feel better about themselves."

Villarreal says Lombardo "has never forgotten us."

"He's a North Texas guy through and through."


UNT home UNT calendarNorth Texas ExesAthletics