From the outside looking in, when most people who are immediately introduced to a “new” business/entrepreneur they have not idea the number of years and hardworking that has actually been put in for the brand to get where it is. Not Many Are Like Us (NMALU) didn’t just come about overnight. This entire business is something twenty-seven-year-old Designer/Creative Director Kelvin Michael has been working on since he was fifteen. NMALU provides one of one pieces, including custom orders, and street prep goods, full of simple styles but unique enough to surely catch your eye in an instant! I’m a huge fan of NMALU, the details put into each piece designed, and the values/morals that stand the designer and his brand. I had the pleasure of talking to Kelvin Michael about all the dopeness he’s creating, how it all started, and so much more!
Back in high school (we actually went to high school together), Kelvin was a sneakerhead. Sneaker boxes in his room were stacked up high and he worked just to spend his paychecks on buying more sneakers. Everything from Dunks, to Nike exclusives, filled his collection but there was one problem Kelvin often encountered and that was finding the perfect tees to match. I know first hand how hard it can be to find that same exact blue or any color besides black or white, especially if you’re searching across different brands. But for every problem, there is a solution and Kelvin decided to take matters into his own hands; why not just start designing tees, hoodies, etc. to match his extensive sneaker collection? He realized he could create his future with his own clothes.
NMALU isn’t just for men or just for women; all the pieces are unisex. As a woman myself, I personally love the feeling of taking my mans favorite hoodie and t-shirt, knowing he’ll never get it back because it’s mine now. I’m going to style it and then rock it like it was originally my own and that is the exact vibe Kelvin says he intended and thinks about when designing his clothes. He also said, which I agree 1000 %, that women make shit fly, so the clothes get their main purpose once a woman is in it. Nothing is super masculine, so it can be worn by any and everyone. Kelvin has also created a few infant/toddler pieces. Seeing denim jackets in miniature form tickles my soul and makes me smile. Those come about and are designed with love because his heart is truly in it. We can definitely expect more from NMALU for the little ones in the future.
Anyone can become inspired by a variety of things or in different ways. Something Kelvin, I, and a lot of other creative people have in common is that we all have times where we just are unable to create. Writers call it writer’s block but it’s just a moment in time when for some reason your creative juices just aren’t flowing how they usually do or you have ideas but when it’s time to put them down on paper, nothing seems to come out; it happens to best of us. Kelvin is a very analytical person and his mind/body are well-aware of when he needs to take a break, regroup, and work on something new. When Kelvin creates, he is creating until he gets to his next level. Self-accomplishment is important to him. His process is ultimately his evolution. Just by taking a look at his work from the beginning to now, you can clearly see tremendous growth.
The name, Not Many Are Like Us, has nothing to do with a physical body or appearance but much more about values and morals. Kelvin is big on family, friends, and being able to speak through his clothes. The company you keep is essential to your life. Surrounding yourself with individuals who have the same and/or similar goals as yourself and building a unity that stands strong is what this brand is all about. He’s done some of his favorite, but super random, photoshoots with his family members wearing his pieces; like one of his rugby’s, which is reminiscent to his upbringing. Each piece Kelvin creates has a story behind it. I love that because it makes everything about NMALU that much more personal. He also recently designed a custom a basketball jersey for Philly’s own DJ Diamond Kuts, which was a huge accomplishment and the finished product came out so dope! On Instagram, you can see pictures of him going through the entire process and it’s truly astounding to see his ideas come to life so beautifully.
I love any and everything Kelvin has designed with the monarch butterfly on it. Ever since I can remember I’ve been memorized by butterflies. I have a big blue one tattooed on my back and to me, they’ve symbolized freedom and just doing you. It was hard for Kelvin to answer which piece thus far was his favorite, understandably so, since they have all their own special meaning but the one he ended up discussing the most was the one pictured above. When I first saw this on Instagram I was in awe by the details of the teddy bears. They’re very nostalgic and then the quote by Kelvin’s cousin is what really got me, which says…
“The thought of being with one woman does not scare me but the thought of wasting my time is what appears to be, dealing with a generation of women who lack consistency, I just want the real her, not someone she pretends to be.”
That is a word and I can feel it. Love is such an amazingly beautiful thing but the early stages of dating and finding the perfect person be quite annoying at times. This quote truly speaks volumes and is something many of our generation can relate to.
I’m truly excited and ready for everything Kelvin has in store for us with NMALU. What he decides to show us through the internet is not even the half of it! He was worked on so much more that is unknown to us. He says “he’s so far behind his brain and that he can’t give us everything all at once”; it is the suspense that keeps us on our toes. Right now he’s at a crazy stage in his life. He’s all about leveling up and spreading his wings. He’s going to calculate his take off, fly, and let the wind take him where he is destined to go! All his family, friends, and clients new and old will be supporting him throughout his journey.
Below you’ll find the link to NMALU’s website, as well as Instagram.