Nostic Apparel: All In The Family



The Nostic Apparel offices in midtown Manhattan are a hectic place, but all is in order.  Prospective buyers come in for meetings and designer Nancy Jones discusses Nostic while taking care of family business on the phone with her son Jim. In the background are racks full of T-shirts, jeans, and hoodies elaborately covered in gothic imagery and a flashy, dagger-emblazoned logo. The Nostic brand is derived from the religious movement of Gnosticism, which teaches that humans need spiritual knowledge in order to navigate between good and evil. 


As Mrs. Jones describes, there is a story behind every skull, dove, grim reaper, angel, and scripture. Taking fashion cues from her famous son, the lady best known as Momma Jones developed a unique design that the Diplomats Capo began to rep proudly.  With high profile industry cosigns and distributors from as far as Canada and Japan clamoring for the clothes, Nostic appears to be on the rise. When did you get your start in fashion?


Nancy Jones: I’ve been doing fashion since I was little.  My son gave me this big break to actually explore more of what I love to do most, and God is good – He gave Jim the opportunity to get out there. God gave me for me to do what I do best. I love kids, and I love to create and design. How did the idea to start the Nostic line form?


Nancy Jones: I was into the women’s [clothing at first], and I had to do some of the men’s stuff due to my son. So I was doing t-shirts at every fashion show. At one time they would call me Ghetto Mom, then it was called Echelon, then it was called Jonez, so now we’re down to Nostic. When [Jim and I] sat down to talk and he said, “Mom, since you like doing the t-shirts, that’s what you should start out with and we can probably get the line out like that.”


I started doing t-shirts that were not to [his] liking [at the time], and we got into this big, huge, nice, lovely, juicy mother and son argument.  That’s when Chrissy [Jim Jones’ stylist and significant other] gave me the insight on how and what he likes to wear. We were coming up with all sorts of names, and she came up to me and said, “What about Gnostic?” and I said, “I love it, but I don’t like the ‘G’,” so we made it Nostic. What were the style pointers you took from your son?


Nancy Jones:  Studying my son’s whole dress thing, [I saw that] sometimes he put the shirt on with the cross, next time he might have the shirt looking all vintage and torn up, then he looks like he’s in a gothic kind of world, and then he has a Jesus Christ on his shirt. Nostic fit so perfect, so I just took everything that he likes and how he likes to wear and it and combined it into one.  So that’s how we came up with the skulls, the fallen angel, the angel with the reaper – the vintage looking stuff.  He likes his stuff fitting him nice. And I love it because Jim likes a lot of the back in the day stuff, and that’s my type too. I was very flashy and I still keep my little flashiness. He honestly got that standing out in his dressing. I’m glad that he loved it because the first shirt that I made, he flipped out. How exactly did he flip out?


Nancy Jones: Well all this time, he didn’t know that I had started making shirts. I told his [assistant] Chris Lecky, “If something exciting come on, the only time you give him this shirt is in the middle of whatever that is.” So Jim was in the middle of an interview and Chris gave him the shirt, and he said “Where did this come from?!,” and Chris said “From your mother, that’s your line.” He said, “Get out!” Then the interviewer said, “Can I have it?” and Jim said “Hell no! You can’t afford it!” Jim took his shirt off and [put on the Nostic shirt].  So from then it was on and popping. I’ve seen different people from the Diplomats, such as Juelz and Freekey Zekey wearing Nostic.  Who else do you have in line to be spokespersons?


Nancy Jones: They think I’m crazy, I just target anybody.  Even when we went to MAGIC [fashion convention in Las Vegas]…  I know LL Cool J has his own line and the whole nine yards [and I told him] “I can’t give you the clothes if you don’t wear my s**t.” I told 50 Cent, “I can’t give it to you, I need to see you put it on.”  Nick Cannon, Young Jeezy – I don’t play.  Boy, I told Scrappy, “If you don’t wear it, you gonna be picking up scraps for real!” I told Rich Boy, “If you don’t wear it, you gonna be Poor Boy!” I’m not gonna give you any of my stuff if you’re not going to wear it, because anything that you make that is your line and you give to me, I’m gonna wear it.  The people I love the most in the industry are Gino Green, we support each other back and forth. Jim, along with Juelz and Lil’ Wayne, has been going hard with the rock star look lately. Where do you think the appeal of that comes from?


Nancy Jones: He’s crazy like his momma. I ain’t gonna lie about it, I go into that mood swing type of thing- one time you might see me dressed like the sexy church lady, another time I might be dressed like the secret squirrel lady, another time I might go into that rock and roll. I know if I want to make a difference, that means I have to dress completely different in order for someone to say, “Wow, who is that person, what’s going on?”  I tell my daughters: the way you appear makes the whole difference to anybody. Do you think the spiritual symbolism of the line will resonate with people?


Nancy Jones: It’s who wants to take it how they want to take it. Nobody said this is just spiritual. If this is on you [points to a Nostic shirt with biblical writings on it] and I read the words and I want to get into that, then fine. If not, if I like the style it just looks hot. But at least I know you got a piece of the bible on you [laughs], so one day it will touch your soul. [With] some of the [Nostic clothes], it won’t be all the way bible stuff, because Gnostic is actually a balance: day and night, good and evil, so it’s all about good balance in life. This [points to another shirt] is the grim reaper and a lady gambling for her life with the dice, and my son plays cee-lo, so that’s the way he saw this.  Everybody takes it however they want to take it, but they know there’s a story behind it. How did Joe Levin get involved as the President of Nostic?


Nancy Jones: [In the beginning] I was doing it all by myself and it started getting overwhelming, because now they wanted more and more and more. And that’s where Joey came in. I came with stuff already built, but he turned and built the sh*t out of it. He’s the greatest. I still have a lot more to learn, but he has shown me things and taught me more things than anybody in this apparel industry would even try to teach me. Because I’ve been through the line of different people and it’s not no honesty thing out there – it’s a dog eat dog world.  Thank God, He built me as a nice lady but a tough lady, so I’m not going to back down. That’s my partner for real, my whole family is my partner because they’ve been my inspiration.  My daughters Keisha, Precious and Jamillah believed in me real hard. I was determined to get this out one way or another. In terms of self-expression, what kind of message does someone wearing Nostic send out?


Nancy Jones: They are sending out a good, positive message.  It’s spiritual [depending on] how you feel about it.  I know when you wear it, you feel good. We have our own Nostic women wear that we just getting ready to start out, and I know I feel good when I wear it. I know for a fact when my son wears it, when the whole Dipset wears it, when his compadres wear it, when the people that call me up at MTV and BET wear it, it gives people a positive feeling. It makes you feel good, like this is what it’s about. I want it to continue ‘cause God is good and he’s going to make sure it gets bigger and bigger.  It’s already there, I’m just waiting for it to all start revealing and shining harder.


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