Once Upon A Time

Once upon a time there was a kid name Daniel Silberman. One day Daniel made some tees with four grand, walked into Union and the rest is history. Today, with the success of the We Run tee, the brand holds Conveyor Fred Segal, Brooklyn Projects, Karmaloop and other exclusive boutiques worldwide as retailers. As their newly launched website states, “Through the We Run design we tell the story of who we are, what we believe in, and where we’re about to go.” With celebrity support garnered from the likes of The Game, ThreeSixMafia, Mark Ronson and Jay-Z, Once Upon A Time seems to be writing their own history.

“I get most of my ideas when listening to classic Jay Z, Biggie or Wu-Tang albums.”

Format: Please state who you are and your role at Once Upon A Time In NY.
Daniel Silberman: My name is Daniel Silberman. I founded Once Upon A Time in 2005. I am our Janitor. My role with Once Upon A Time is to fix everything that is not working.

Format: Give us a brief history on your brand.
Daniel Silberman: Once Upon A Time was founded in New York in 2005. I had always thought about starting my own line. At the beginning we screen-printed some shirts in our apartment and gave them to our boys. The reactions were great and after a while we started to take it seriously. We started printing 1000 shirts at a printer in Los Angeles. We were lucky to get into three of the best stores from the start. I walked into Conveyor Fred Segal and Brooklyn Projects and they picked up the line. Our first account in NY was Union. The line and distribution grew every season from then on.

Format: Who are your key players and what are their roles?
Daniel Silberman: We are blessed to have a great team at Once Upon A Time. Matt is our warehouse manager. Jose, Edgar and Frank are in charge of our shipping. Sarah is in charge of accounting. Alina does our designs along with Luis and Mark James handles the consulting part of our business.

Format: How did you come up with your brand name?
Daniel Silberman: My favorite movie of all time is Sergio Leone’s Once Upon A Time in America with De Niro, Joe Pesci and James Wood. Our name was inspired by that movie.

Format: You’ve made many references to classic hip hop graphics and albums in your collections. How has hip hop affected you personally?
Daniel Silberman: I grew up during the so-called Golden era of hip hop. Hip hop inspired me more then any other genre of music. I get most of my ideas when listening to classic Jay Z, Biggie or Wu-Tang albums.

Format: What was the best hip hop album ever produced?
Daniel Silberman: My favorite album ever is Notorious BIG Ready to Die. It was next level when it came out and it’s still amazing.

Format: What is the relation between hip hop and streetwear?
Daniel Silberman: I think the biggest relation is the “do it yourself” attitude. We grew up with hip hop and are very inspired by it. It’s amazing to see how far hip hop has come. Hip hop is very motivational for me. It’s such a dope feeling to see an artist that I grew up listening to rocking my gear.

Format: There are a few hip hop references in your line. Tell us about the “U Run Nada” tee and “If Notorious BIG was alive 90% of rappers today would be working at McDonalds” tee.
Daniel Silberman: The We Run designs established us. I thought it would be a creative spin on our We Run designs. It actually became one of our best selling designs. I think that if Biggie would be alive a lot of hip hop today would be different. He would have raised the bar much higher. There are a lot of dope artist doing their thing today, but there is too much wack music out.

Format: What other hip hop references can we expect from Once Upon A Time In NY in future collections?
Daniel Silberman: That info is classified.

Format: Please comment on the dichotomy between mainstream hip hop brands like Sean John, Rocawear and more streetwear brands like Once Upon A Time.
Daniel Silberman: The main difference is that those brands were started with much bigger budgets. I started Once Upon A Time with $4000 and no idea what I was getting into. The mainstream brands have people working for them that have been in apparel all their life. As a small brand you have the advantage to just put out what you like and not cater to the masses.

Format: The mainstream brands as previously mentioned seem to be dying off, do you see a way for them to maintain market share?
Daniel Silberman: Some of the mainstream brands will continue to grow and some will disappear. It is very tough to maintain a high market share over the years. I think the market is at a turning point and in order for the mainstream brands to maintain their success they have to stay relevant to the changes in the market.

Format: Where is Once Upon A Time in NY headed in 2009?
Daniel Silberman: I see Once Upon A Time developing into more than just clothing, we will open our first retail store in early 2009. We just re-launched our website www.shopwerun.com. Our whole collection is cut and sew, anything from denim to jackets and shirts. In 2009 our cut and sew collection will grow and we will have an artist program supporting independent local artists. We will also put more focus on our accessory line with jewelry and bags. The most important thing is that we still put out relevant stuff that people can relate to.

More info: http://www.shopwerun.com

Jules C

Latest posts by Jules C (see all)


  1. RAMIL aka da ru$h says:

    sup im rusky bwoi from crack town and im doin my last year in college and my i had to come up with a clothing line and reading about Daniel made me think there’s stil hope 4 me out there. im mad bou makin my own tees n hoodies and i just want to let you know dat your a big insperation and i will keep my head up n try 2 succeed in this tough world. im a 1 man army im like the onli russian guy in my town who got some fresh ideas but no1 want to know da story of my life and ting so i slack motervation to carry on with my dream but im gunna keep my head up and hope for the best. 1 day you will know who i am. ina bizzle


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