May 3, 2007

Delphia Style

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Philadelphia has long been a mecca for people dictating what is cool, hip, in style and most importantly, fresh. Throughout the ’90s, the words of one such Philadelphia native became the new Bible for a generation: “In West Philadelphia born and raised, on the playground was where I spent most of my days. Chillin’ out, maxin’, relaxin’ all cool. And all shootin’ some b-ball outside of the school.” While the neon tracksuits and Reeboks which Will Smith sported on the Fresh Prince are no longer in style, another source for fashion has emerged from the same immortalized city: meet Delph.
Delph — whose name derives from the city in which it is based — is a customizable clothing company, specializing in hooded sweatshirts (a.k.a hoodies). Customers can select from a diverse range of fabrics, colors, materials and patterns to design a garment that reflects their own individual style, said Ethan Lipsitz, creator of Delph.
Lipsitz started the company while he was an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania three years ago. He was frustrated with the highly “academic vibe about the creative scene” there, and wanted to find a way to express his own originality. “Sweatshirts” he said, “were a good mode to do that.”
Lipsitz began by customizing hoodies for his friends, who would select colors and fabrics for Lipsitz to bring the vision to life. Eventually, by word of mouth alone, the popularity of the company increased and Lipsitz started taking orders from people he did not even know. Still, customers today receive the same attention as his original friends.
Lipsitz eventually teamed up with fellow UPenn student Jess Casper and created a website for the company, On the website, customers can see some previous designs and then select colors for their own personal hoodie. Once colors are selected, Lipsitz contacts the customer to discuss their vision and see that the final goal is reached.
Although styles range from fabulously flashy — a red hoodie with gold fabric arranged in harsh verticals and horizontals on the sleeves and torso — to sleek and hip — a grey sweatshirt with blue circles and stars — to moderate and relaxed — a maroon sweatshirt with a white and blue pattern on the inside of the hood — the most important aspect of a Delph hoodie is that no two garments are alike. Each hoodie is hand-made according to the order. If the customer has a vision of what they want, Delph can make it happen — or at least “we can try,” said Lipsitz.
“The world is moving towards much specification for the consumer,” Lipsitz said. And this collaborative process inspires him. Delph “guides some of the style points” when designing a hoodie, which is a relief if you want to reflect your own style, but don’t have experience designing clothes. In the end, the product is not only a “textural and pattern based collage,” but a mosaic of influences: the buyer’s taste and Delph’s creative efforts.
Visit to see styles and find out more.