In New York City, there is always room for more fashion brands to take their chance on the industry, and make their name heard from street to street. Enter ELIAS: the brainchild clothing label of Jonah Levine, a New York-based East Coast native who has had his time in both the music industry (working with Interscope and Electric Feel Ent) and the fashion industry. Gaining traction in his professional career in the 2010s working with streetwear brands, he went on to become a co-founder of streetwear brand Psych.World. Gaining hands-on experience in operating a brand thus lead to his newest independent project, ELIAS. With the launch of the brand, the founder and designer wanted to encapsulate a nostalgic personal element that also paid homage to the New York City counterculture and streetwear scene that was familiar to his own experiences in growing up as a teen in the concrete jungle.
After a week-long pop-up in downtown New York City, VMAN sat down with Jonah Levine for a deeper look at the making of the new brand.
VMAN: Can you tell us about what is the inspiration behind the brand?
Jonah Levine: The brand is an homage to how I perceive New York. I want the brand to be reminiscent of the tone and energy I felt being in New York as a teen discovering fashion, sneaker, and music culture at the beginning of the 2010s. I’m trying to recreate the street energy of downtown New York for a feeling of nostalgia for the heyday of streetwear, a brand for the streetwear purist.
VM: With this inaugural collection, could you describe what served as the inspiration for this debut lineup?
JL: For this first collection, my personal style was my main source of inspiration. Even though this is the first collection for the brand, I wanted to present a robust offering that includes denim, zip-up hoodies, t-shirts, boxers, and caps so that the brand DNA and ethos can be felt immediately upon seeing it. My personal style has always been mixing and matching pieces from classic Americana brands with pieces from staple OG streetwear brands. There are a lot of Americana motifs and iconography from graphics of the Twin Towers, the American flag, variations of camo, and more. I find New York to be a very patriotic city in a very unique melting-pot way, so there are a lot of pieces that display the patriotic sentiment. With the election year soon impending, I wanted to release pieces that feel fresh in design and style, focused on fit that displays patriotism in a more subdued way.
VMAN: Why exactly is the brand named ELIAS?
JL: My middle name is “Elijah” but it was supposed to be “Elias”. I wanted the brand name to encompass a personal element of myself but not be too direct so I named the brand as the middle name I was supposed to have originally. This felt natural and instinctive to me, and the reasoning behind it is that the brand name ELIAS bears a piece of my identity without actually bearing it, thus giving the brand the potential to exist as its own.