Jews of Philly Fashion: Brian Nadav

Brian Nadav. Photo by Evan Kaucher

It’s the newest edition of Jews of Philly Fashion, introducing you to the Chosen few who dress our city. They might mix wool and linen, but they’ve got some strong opinions on mixing stripes with florals. In this space, we’ll talk to designers, sellers, buyers, influencers, models and more. This week, we spoke to Brian Nadav.

There was a time when Brian Nadav, 39, lived the musician’s life. He toured the country, playing a few times with Matisyahu; a jam band devotee, he played guitar and the Middle Eastern oud.

But you can’t play shows in New York at night and then open your family’s store in the morning for all that long, Nadav learned. City Blue, the family venture, needed managing, and loathe as he was to give up the stage, he was more than happy to step off if it meant he was in, say, the new Commes des Garçons hightops.

Today, Nadav, who grew up working retail at various City Blue locations, runs Lapstone & Hammer, one of Philadelphia’s cutting-edge streetwear shops. Besides carrying original apparel from Lapstone & Hammer — heavy on the tie-dye, as of late — the store at 11th and Chestnut streets is stocked with the likes of Adidas, Maison Margiela and Rick Owens, accessible fare mixed with the higher-end stuff. For the man with treasured first-hand memories of the Nike Air Max 95 drop at The Gallery, it couldn’t be a cushier landing for his stage dive.

“It’s about an aesthetic,” Nadav said of Lapstone & Hammer, which puts vibrant, loud clothes against a relatively minimalist backdrop (clean lines, white walls). “It’s about a sensibility. It’s about being creative. It’s about having fun.”

Nadav, a father of two, is a graduate of Perelman Jewish Day School’s Forman Center, as well as Temple University, where he majored in environmental studies and geography and urban studies. Though music was and remains a central plank of his life, working in his Israeli family’s well-known clothing shops instilled in Nadav an appreciation for the power of this particular form of self-expression.

“Fashion is an unspoken language, a way of expressing yourself,” Nadav said. “You walk into a room, and you get a vibe about a person, by the way they dress, by the way they carry themselves, by the way they groom themselves.”

Like anyone acting as a junior partner in the family business, Nadav found that his ideas about the best way to do things didn’t quite gel with that of his elders. On top of that, the clothes Nadav wanted to see on people walking out of the store were not what a few generations of City Blue customers were looking for. In 2012, he had the “menswear concept of the future” on his mind; by 2015, Lapstone & Hammer, named for the old-fashioned tools of the cobbler, was ready to stake its claim.

What’s the last book you read?
“The Tipping Point,” reread for the third time.

What clothing trend would you like to see make a comeback?

Dream Shabbat dinner guest?
Bob Dylan or King David. Both musical geniuses.

What’s something you can’t believe you used to wear?
Z. Cavaricci’s. So bad, they are actually good.

What’s the worst thing you’ve watched in quarantine?
The news.

What’s a universal style tip?
Always get dressed from the feet up.

What item of clothing should more people be wearing?
Tie-dye! Especially Lapstone Dyes.

What person’s style do you admire?
Mordechai Rubinstein, or Mister Mort, as he goes by on Instagram.

Best neighborhood in Philadelphia?

What talent would you most like to have?
Allen Iverson’s basketball skills.

[email protected]; 215-832-0740


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here