NEW YORK — Tony Melillo, the force behind the now-shuttered Nova USA, has signed on as Generra’s creative director in time for its spring 2004 relaunch.

A former Esquire stylist and 1999 Perry Ellis men’s wear nominee, Melillo is known for his slick, sport-inspired looks. Hipsters were drawn to his narrow-shouldered tops and low-waisted pants. In the late Nineties, Melillo built a loyal following in Nova’s Lower East Side store for his signature understatedness.

In 2000, Melillo closed his Nova USA line and his New York showroom when he broke with four investors, including industry veteran Martin Miller, managing partner of the Belvedere Fund; Michael Rosenthal of Apparel Partners, and Charles Strulovitz, vice chairman of manufacturing and sourcing. He continued to design a signature line of men’s wear and had a stint at Abercrombie & Fitch as a design consultant.

After a 10-year hiatus, Generra women’s and men’s contemporary sportswear is being relaunched by the Public Clothing Co. for spring 2004. In its heyday in the Eighties, the company’s sales peaked around $400 million.

Dan Shamdasani, chief executive officer of Public Clothing, said, "With Tony, we are continuing the Public Clothing tradition of hiring the best young talent in fashion to work on our brands."

Public Clothing also has French Cuff and licensed Perry Ellis women’s wear in it stable of labels.

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