Founded back in 2010 by 3 childhood friends – Phil, Raffie and Jimmy, Belief NYC was born out of a desire to live a successful life doing something you love. From humble beginnings, the Astoria boutique has gained quite the reputation, growing into one of New York’s premier destinations for all things skateboarding and streetwear. Alongside running the store, the guys have been developing and growing their own clothing line, applying strong graphic prints to street ready pieces, accessories and hardgoods, drawing from the city’s culture and a range of other themes.
It’s been a brand we have had our eyes on for a while and we can now happily announce that we will be welcoming Belief to our line up this Spring/Summer. With the collection soon to be arriving with us in store, we had a chat to the guys behind the brand about its history and inspirations, as well as the creative team around them and what the future holds for Belief NYC.
Hey Guys, how are you doing? Could you tell us a bit about yourselves and your role at Belief?
Phil Gordon – Co-owner, creative direction, brand sales, marketing/public relations, buyer for the store.
Raffie Gordon – Co-owner, creative direction, graphic design, brand production.
Jimmy Collins – Business Operations, strategy, and management.
The brand and store have grown from humble beginnings. Nowadays the store is considered one of New Yorks premier skate stores and the brand is making its way around the globe. Could you give us a brief history of Belief and how it all started?
We’ve always been interested in clothing and fashion. Our involvement in the industry is based on a progression. It started with our experiences hanging out in our local skate shop as kids. The entrepreneurial aspect of our passion came about in college when we would sell clothing out of our closet for spending money. We realized that people were eager to get their hands on some of the apparel we were interested in.
Our dream was to have a clothing brand of our own. Opening a boutique/skate shop was a great way for us (as a brand) to separate ourselves from the over saturated streetwear market here in New York. It also allowed us to build relationships with brands that we admired.
Is there a story behind the name?
We were in the midst of opening and running a new location for a friend of ours who owned another skate shop. Half way through the process he backed out of the venture. We decided that we would use our ambition to start our own business. We believed that we could be successful on our own and could set up the life we wanted without the guidance of our friend, who was experienced and knowledgeable.
We wanted the driving force behind our creative outlet to be positive in nature. For us, it’s important to spread that message – that you can achieve anything you put your mind to, if you believe in your abilities and work hard enough.
When doing some research for a motto/slogan, we found that the definition of “Excelsior” (NY state motto) is Ever Upward. We’ve been running with that ever since!
Has the clothing line always been a part of Belief or has this been something you’ve developed along the way?
Getting our retail store situated in 2010 paved the way for the proper introduction for our brand. It helped immensely with our growth as a brand.
The store is located near to New Yorks popular Astoria Skatepark. Was it a conscious decision to be located in that area?
Jimmy had been living in Astoria for some time and realized that it would be a great place to open a boutique/skate shop, as there was no competition almost anywhere in Queens. When we realized the skatepark was being built, it pushed us to complete the build out process as soon as we could.
From what we can see through social media, you guys have got a great team around you, including your skate team, and you connect with a lot of creative people. How has this helped you develop Belief?
Networking has been essential in our growth. We love working with talented, like-minded people. We’ve learned so much and gained an abundance of inspiration from the creative people around us. In putting together a skate team, we actually built a family.
Building friendships with people both in and out of the industry has been the best thing to come out of our journey.
The Fall/Winter 2014 Lookbook was one of our favourite lookbooks from last year. Did you brief Humza Deas on what you were looking for from the visuals or give him free reign?
Thanks! We appreciate hearing positive feedback from people – it humbles us and keeps us driven.
We spoke with him about some ideas we had, but overall gave him free reign to do what he does best. Humza is one of those talented people that we are blessed to work with. Aside from photography, he is an incredible skateboarder and has been on our skate team since he was about 13. Landing the cover photo of New York Magazine at the age of 17 shows just how much potential he has.
How has living in New York influenced the brand and it’s designs?
Although the city is everything to us now, we gain inspiration from both urban and suburban lifestyles. Growing up in Westchester, New York (about 45 minutes north of the city) has given us a true appreciation for calm, beautiful scenery. Taking the train into the city as kids and skating the NY streets exposed us to a lifestyle we dreamed to one-day immerse ourselves in.
Now, having lived in the city for years we identify completely with it. It can be a rough lifestyle – always being on your toes. But there is so much to admire here. Everyday, the city provides us with the opportunity to create and express ourselves in a way we see fit.
What’s new with the latest collection?
Got some good things coming for SS15. As always, conceptual graphics with unique placements and color-ways were key components throughout the creative process. The majority of our line is made in the USA in limited quantities.
What’s next for Belief?
In-store growth is important this year. Our new and improved location is up and running now. We are looking to bring in brands such as Patagonia, Penfield, Saucony, Asics and New Balance come spring.
Expanding our clothing line is our main focus at this time. We are always sourcing and working on creating new styles of apparel, headwear and hardgoods. We’re in no rush to over extend ourselves. We want to continue growing both domestically and internationally at a natural rate.
Special thanks to Urban Industry for your support and interest in Belief. We look forward to working together in the upcoming seasons!
The latest from Belief will be arriving with us in-store and online shortly. Be sure to check our social media pages for all the latest updates.