Nostylgia is, by choice and design, a work in progress. It is an idea that continues to redefine, remix and reinvent itself. Constant elevation, innovation and dynamism are the hallmarks of the brand. It was nearly 6 years ago that a brash 21-year-old decided that he would single-handedly usher into existence what he conceived as “The New American Classic”. Before anyone ever thought of dubbing Dyckman Street “Inwood Boulevard”, and way before it was cool or even profitable to operate an establishment up here, Jason Devereaux chose Dyckman Street as his base of operations. The rest, as they say, is history.
Q. Nostlygia is constantly evolving is that by design or necessity or both?
I know evolving is a word we hear all the time. In a weird way the process has been so organic to me that I don’t always realize how it looks on the outside. Kind of like an evolution in nature I guess. If I have to think about this question though, hmmm, on principle alone we were definitely designed to evolve. I didn’t use the word evolve when I thought of Nostylgia but from the get-go I made up my mind that we were not trying to be a get-rich-quick/fly-by-night company. We were going to be a brand, the New American Classic brand, and we were here to stay for millennia. Seems a bit lofty as I look back at it now but starting business at 20/21 years old I was bound to undergo some evolution of my own over the years. Beyond this basis though, the details of our evolution get a bit confusing between causes, design and necessity. Sneakers and t-shirts are now penny loafers and tweed blazers and I think I even have a Tea Bar and Chess Lounge that looks like a park in the back of my store. It’s all part of a master plan way too complex to explain. All I can say is that I’m still led by those lofty goals I set as a extremely young man and I’ve had the fortune to be connected to first-hand knowledge passed down by generations spanning as far back as the early days of the industrial revolution. I guess when you combine that with all the ins, outs and necessities of our current economy, culture, fashion aesthetic and of course our super close bond with Uptown, we land where we are today.
Q. You are a kind of a retail pioneer when it comes to Uptown. How long have you have been around and why Uptown?
A. It has been a while man. We opened in 2005 so that would be just about 6 years ago now and Uptown was always my first choice. I grew up in Yonkers (really uptown), leisured in this neighborhood before it was “cool” and I went to college in the village. But if I go back to what I said before about being designed to evolve I think Uptown was the only forum for that and us. It gave us room to grow more than anything else and it gave us a great local clientele and fan base that has really grown with us. I feel the relationship between us and Uptown is almost symbiotic in a way. I came to Inwood before a lot of others but somehow knew they would be there by now and here they are now. Don’t know if we had anything to do with that but we certainly appreciate the company of many of the new businesses. It really validates a lot of my feeling about this area. I always say Uptown is the last of the real New York neighborhoods and there’s something about that that just fits perfect with the idea of “The New American Classic”. I can get deep on this but lets just say I love Uptown )
Q. What was the original vision for Nostygia?
A. I honestly think the originally vision for Nostylgia is exactly what it has become. I mean, when we started officially in 2003 with our first website it was all about seizing an opportunity and opening door into the fashion industry. That open door was retro inspired and vintage sneakers and to keep it simple, I KNEW there was a fevered desire for these types of sneakers that for a long time were absent from the American Market. I KNEW how to get them to people here, many who didn’t even know they existed and for those who did we became a truly exclusive shopping outlet. But most importantly I KNEW this opening was only a crack in the window. So I KNEW I better build a brand based on something much bigger than just sneakers. Nostylgia was born and as I said before, the evolution started.
Q. Where do you see Nostlygia in the future?
A. Evolving, haha. You started me on this. All I know for sure is that I can promise we will stick to our New American Classic Mission, the fashion will stay true to its roots in all that has become Americana, and for Uptown we plan on continuing the bond we’ve built. In fact making it a lot stronger with the new possibilities that we’ve been seeing for the new Inwood Tea Bar at Nostylgia. I’m really excited about all the new people we’ve been able to touch with that. The best part of my job is getting to make new friends consisting of new and old neighbors of every single demographic, every single day. It’s truly amazing. Beyond that I’ll never put a limit on where Nostylgia can go and I’ll continue to work as hard as I can to take it as far as possible. Of course I have a lot of specific ideas of where that can be but I’ve learned I’m better off seeing where evolution takes us.
Q. Any last words?
This turned into a deep interview. Thanks for the easy questions, haha. But last but not least I want to tell Native Uptowners, transplants, and visitors alike, thanks for all the support. I hope everyone continues to patronize Nostylgia and all our local Uptown businesses. It’s really bigger than the money you’re spending. You’re preserving a piece of America where neighborhood pride meant something and when local business was the only business. Keep it up!