Elias Rumelis is a familiar face in the fashion business. He has been working in the industry for over 25 years, and has lived abroad in between, for example in China for a few years.
In 2015, he started his very own label, ER Denim, which now goes by the name of ER Elias Rumelis and is carried by about 450 customers across Europe with its fashionable-clean casual looks.
Look by ER Elias Rumelis f/w ’21
But somehow there was always the desire to do something else, a premium label. In 2021, still in the midst of the Corona pandemic, the time had come, and under the name Eli (Rumelis’ nickname) his second label was launched.
“Until now, I kind of always tried to incorporate certain style elements and looks that were important to me into ER. But that just didn’t always fit or then didn’t 100% match the statement of ER. Now, with the two separate brands, there is a clean separation and I don’t have to bend,” he says.
Elias Rumelis, founder/creative director, ER Elias Rumelis and Eli
So far, Frankfurt am Main is still the home of both brands and the company behind them, Blau Textil GmbH. On September 1, the company will move to a 600-sq.-meter (and thus twice as large showroom) in Frankfurt’s suburb Neu-Isenburg.
While ER focuses on more commercial menswear and womenswear outfits, Eli is about high-end streetwear, also for men and women, but overall with more menswear and with a unisex approach, tending to the younger target group of Millennials. Rumelis is already sitting at the source: his two 18-year-old sons Ben and Noah, the “Rumelis Twins,” are just about to take off in the music business as an r&b act–and are therefore the perfect testimonials (and inspiration) for Eli.
The result are casual yet thoroughly designed jersey tops and bottoms, denim, a bit of outerwear, a bit of leather, all matchable with each other, and all the while infused with lots of details like patches, prints, patch pockets, darts and piping.
Men’s outfit by Eli
“#NeverOwned #AlwaysYours” is the claim of the young label meaning it’s not about having, about owning the pieces, but about the unique personality inside. And NeverOwned and AlwaysYours are also the names of the label’s first two drops, which have been on the market so far and are sold via the label’s own e-shop. They are test runs to see what the initial feedback is like, but the plan is to have two regular pre-order collections, the first to be unveiled in July.
Manageable, with a total of about 80 pieces, 30% of which should be denim. The prices correspond to those of a premium streetwear label: T-shirts retail between €150 and €180, denim pieces will cost up to €450.
Eli will include about 30% denim.
But what about sustainability for a modern label? “I’m rather cautious with statements on the subject of sustainability,” he says. “We don’t peddle it. Today it’s fashionable for many brands to constantly talk about how sustainable they are, but you have to be careful with such terms. That’s why we wouldn’t call ourselves a sustainable label. A 100% sustainable production doesn’t work at all with the current possibilities, and everyone who works in the industry knows that. Nevertheless, we try to work sustainably in many ways.”
For example, Rumelis travels every two weeks to Turkey, where everything is manufactured, and pays attention to humane working conditions; he has been working with the same companies for years.
Look by Eli
In terms of materials, for example, all jerseys are made from certified 100% Pima Cotton. Rumelis also wants to offer more sustainable alternatives for denim and nylon whenever possible: “The fact is that the most important thing for consumers is whether a garment looks good and fits properly. I don’t want to compromise on the design, it simply has to be right, look good and the fabrics have to feel good. So far, there are not sustainable alternatives for all materials, at least then I would have to make concessions in the design.”
Unisex looks by Eli
Because of Corona there was no occasion for a big collection kickoff at a physical trade show, mega-event or Fashion Week in the usual setting. Instead, Rumelis and his team relied on a catwalk show (without a live audience) at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin in January, linked to a model casting for the TV show Germany’s Next Top Model. The episode aired in May and provided a real push in terms of awareness: “While the show was on, our website collapsed in the meantime because the run was so big,” Rumelis reports.
He says that his company came through the crisis well, and many existing customers remain loyal to him with ER. Some of these could also be considered as points of sale for Eli, whereby sales are to be very selective; the focus is on premium shops, concept stores and high-end department stores.
Outside Europe with the core DACH markets Rumelis also sees the USA as an interesting market: in August/September, a pop-up store is to open in Los Angeles’ trendy West Hollywood district together with a partner.
Own stores are conceivable, but it is currently too early for that, says Rumelis. And the company’s own web store is not intended to cannibalize the wholesale business: “The customers come first. After all, they are the ones who made me great.” Sustainability also applies when it comes to intensive and long-lasting business relationships.