Here’s how a fashion brand for “Old Jewish Men” celebrates modern deli culture

What do Pete Davidson, Bella Hadid, Jake Gyllenhaal and Travis Scott all have in common, aside from their A-list status? They’ve recently embraced a unique kind of street style — one that’s emblazoned with logos of famous delicatessens and their most popular offerings, like knishes, pastrami, pickles and bagels.

Aptly dubbed “delicore,” the latest food-fashion fad celebrates one of New York City’s most prized staples: the local deli. Last September, delis officially earned their “It” status within the high fashion world when whimsical clothing designer Batsheva Hay debuted her Spring 2023 collection at the famed Ben’s Kosher Deli amid New York Fashion Week. However, prior to then, delis enjoyed their fair share of up-and-coming collaborations. In 2020, Gyllenhaal partnered with Russ & Daughters on a tie-dye salmon-hued T-shirt benefiting the Independent Restaurant Coalition. In 2021, the Hollywood star and deli joined forces again to release a $150 black “LOX” hoodie benefitting the Actors Fund. And in the following year, Coach and gourmet emporium Zabar’s collaborated to put out limited-edition swag, including a $495 sweater and a $550 leather tote.

Outside of high fashion, several delis — both old and new — began selling their own merchandise in the wake of pandemic shutdowns. Desperate for new revenue streams, restaurants and shops turned to retail, wrote Maggie Hennessy for Bon Appétit. Their efforts were ultimately successful and even captured the attention of countless celebrities. Take for example Davidson, Scott and former New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz, who have all sported Uncle Paulie’s hats from Uncle Paulie’s Deli.

Sure, delicore may have the word “deli” in its name, but it’s not exclusively being claimed by delis. The tasty trend is also a prominent aesthetic in Old Jewish Men (OJM), a popular social-media-account-turned-fashion-brand. OJM first began on Instagram about five-and-a-half years ago when founder Noah Rinsky was visiting his parents who retired in northern Israel. Amid the pandemic, Rinsky and his co-partner Bryan Seversky expanded OJM into a clothing company that specializes in comfort wear, like T-shirts, hats and sweaters. Think of the kinds of clothes commonly seen in Adam Sandler and Larry David’s wardrobe.

The crux of OJM is right in its name — old Jewish men. And because delis have roots in Jewish culture, history and cuisine, it only made sense for OJM to adopt the trend into its clothes.

“[For] old Jewish men, one of their natural gathering points is the deli,” explained Seversky. “So it makes sense for us as a brand to kind of celebrate that culture…It’s celebrating this golden era that in the future, won’t exist since these old guys are keeping it alive.” 

A few deli-themed OJM apparel include its Pickle Princess Crop Tank, a green-hued tank adorned with silver gems; and its Brain on Drugs shirt, a simple white tee with an image of a plain and severely burnt bagel. OJM also has a Mets-style “Meats” jersey, which was inspired by a bizarre, meat-fueled dream:

“My friend Will had this sweaty, meat-induced fever dream one night where he had this idea of combining the Mets with a meat design. When I heard this, I was like, ‘Oh my God, there’s definitely something here!” Seversky said. “I went to work and started to design [the collection]. And I realized that there’s such a strong connection between the Mets, which is the unofficial old Jewish man’s baseball team in New York, and deli culture, which is also huge with old Jewish men.

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He continued, “It just felt like this perfect mish-mash, this perfect coming together of two different things into one. It started off with simple T-shirts and hats and then, we created a jersey.”     

As for Seversky’s thoughts on why OJM’s deli-themed apparel have been a major hit amongst consumers, he said that delicore, as a whole, celebrates a persevering, widely-loved industry. Such clothing invokes the same feelings of pride and loyalty as a sports jersey or a band tee. 

“When you have a piece of clothing that is the branding of the deli, it’s almost like wearing a sports jersey or a band shirt,” Seversky said. “You’re showing allegiance to something. I think what people are drawn to about the deli is that it’s a spot for the everyday man. And it’s about persevering this older, more traditional, less in-your-face aesthetic that’s a bit more blue collar.”

Simply put, delicore reminds us why the deli continues to be a go-to spot for many today. Delis are steeped in tradition and tap into our desire for comfort and nostalgia. That being said, a casual clothing brand coupled with good deli eats just makes sense. Yeah, delicore is “not, like, Balenciaga,” as Davidson famously said. It’s far better than that. 

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