This Philly-Based Luxury Children’s-Wear Brand Hopes to Inspire Kids

IVAT founder Taliah Mateen puts quotes on the inside lining of each leather jacket, to offer some words of encouragement.


Taliah Mateen, founder of IVAT / Photography by Julia Lehman

Taliah Mateen, the founder of luxury children’s-wear brand IVAT, is dressing kids for success. And here she shares her story.

On her path to fashion: I wanted to be an international business attorney, but during my first semester at the University of Miami, the program shut down. It felt like I had lost my focus. I always loved fashion design, but the school didn’t have that major. So I took a personality test to see where I would fit in, and it said I’d be great at creating ads. I switched to communication, advertising and international studies. I was five months pregnant with my son, Taavi, when I graduated in 2006. I later studied as a paralegal at New York University. But fashion remained a passion for me, and in 2015, I started a company called uneeKidz, selling kids’ leather shoes from a kiosk at Willow Grove Park mall.

IVAT sandals

IVAT sandals

On IVAT’s birth: I started drawing sketches for a kids’ leather-jacket line. In 2017, a manufacturer reached out, offering to make soft leather moccasins for my shoe business. I asked if they could do leather jackets instead and sent them one of my designs — a blazer inspired by Taavi. I’d been looking for a cranberry leather blazer for him, but I couldn’t find one, so I created it. I named the brand after him, but I flipped it and dropped an A.

Age: 39

Lives in: North Philly

Title: Founder and designer

Workplaces: IVAT

Trained as: Paralegal and therapeutic support staff worker

On uplifting children: I wanted to inspire kids to dream and express themselves through clothing. I use bold, bright colors and put quotes on the inside lining of each leather jacket, to give them some words of encouragement. One quote is, “To be the best, you have to outwork everyone else.” I also thought about distinction: How can someone tell my leather jacket from another one? I created the elbow patches to help with wear and identify IVAT no matter where you are. It’s our signature.

On what’s new: This past March, we debuted a varsity leather jacket we’ve had in the works, as well as sweatshirts, beanies, printed socks, and new colors for our classic leather jacket. We have the whole kit and caboodle. We now have a space at Hancock Studios in Kensington, so we can provide customer experience and fashion-related youth events in Philadelphia. I’m so excited about it.

IVAT signature jackets, a beanie and a hat

Published as “Forever Young” in the June 2024 issue of Philadelphia magazine.