Micah Belamarich puts his mark on the city.
To get to ONLY NY’s studio and showroom, you take the 1 train far uptown to Manhattanville, walk a few blocks north on 12th Avenue near the western edge of the city, then wobble up several flights of creaky wooden stairs to an old warehouse space. “I like being away from the scene. It’s better for designing, less distracting,” says borough-bred designer Micah Belamarich. “Being in Manhattanville under the giant iron bridge and overlooking the Hudson River is awesome. And there’s no one around here doing the same thing.”
Despite his relative isolation in a remote corner pocket of Manhattan, the city at large has embraced Belamarich wholeheartedly. Since launching its collection of graphic T-shirts, hats, fanny packs, outerwear and sweatshirts a few years back, ONLY has fast become the latest homegrown brand to connect with New Yorkers. Their signature, five-panel bicycle hat with an ONLY logo splayed across the front has become nearly as ubiquitous as the Supreme cap, popping up on kids all over town in shades of matte raspberry and chalky teal that feel pulled from a kindergarten Crayola box. Belamarich runs his business with the same childlike looseness he imbues in his designs, sketching up products throughout the year on a whim, sending items to production impulsively and not really adhering to the typical garment industry cycle. “We don’t follow current fashion trends or think of ourselves as a fashion brand,” Belamarich says. “I started ONLY when I was 22, and I was always drawn to the idea of having a creative endeavor that would double as a business.”
There’ll be more brass tacks to worry about, given the recent Herculean task of opening ONLY’s flagship store on the Lower East Side—a daunting prospect for any brand. But Belamarich handles it all with his head above water and in the most relaxed way possible. “It’s creative-driven over commercial-driven, more personal,” he says. “The store is [just] a reflection of our workspace.” For ONLY, home is wherever you lay your hat.