about johnny was

our story

"I want this to be my house!" exclaimed a customer as she entered the intoxicating, new Johnny Was store in Santa Monica Place. Eli Levite's innovative brainchild strikes a visual balance between change and tradition, modern and vintage, unrestrained and reserved.

The lure of Johnny Was is defined by the juxtaposition of beautifully crafted, luxurious, flowing clothing and gorgeous accessories with the rough edges of the store’s handcrafted, industrial eclecticism.

After 23 successful years as an L.A.-based wholesale manufacturer, Levite intentionally welcomes a broad customer base by including six divisions which are embraced by the modern gypsy. The Johnny Was Collection offers the ultimate boho chic, while JWLA represents the quintessential California surfer chic. The Biya Collection offers timeless, eclectic and stylish silhouettes that are bold and distinctive. Pete & Greta brings lifestyle basics with an edge, while 4 Love and Liberty caters to the fashion-forward sophisticate. 3J Workshop feminizes the traditional menswear shirt with fine workmanship & fit.

Clearly, great music adds to the mix at Johnny Was. And music filled the Levites' house as Eli Levite was developing and conceptualizing his fashion business back in the late '80s. In those moments - while his kids played and replayed the infectious Bob Marley refrain, "Johnny was a good man..." - Levite's first vintage-inspired collection was conceived as ...Johnny Was.



Think… ultimate creations for urban bohemians, and you will find the Johnny Was Collection by designer Biya Ramar. Biya infuses this timeless collection with a passion for women whose lifestyles embrace originality and creativity. Biya’s inspiration is derived from traveling the world and experiencing a variety of cultures.


JWLA has visualized the classic American T-shirt, feminizing it with ‘70s-style, one-of-a-kind embroidery in vibrant colors. Over the past decade, JWLA has perfected its handcrafted look, attracting a devoted global following for its lived–in aesthetic.


3J Workshop is known for vintage-inspired embroidering as a chic update on cotton shirting: stripes, plaids and solids with raw edge details. The shirt can be dressed up and worn under a suit jacket or paired with a skirt. For a more casual look, the shirt is simply great with a favorite pair of jeans. And the tunic-length shirt is divine over a pair of leggings.


Biya Ramar radiates inspiration and creative passion as she discusses art, graphics, textiles, tribal artifacts and history, and world cultures. In 2000, she introduced her eclectic line of clothing, characterized by sophisticated silhouettes with vibrant embroidery that is bold and distinctive.


Designed by Biya Ramar, Pete and Greta clothes can be worn with ease. This casual-chic lifestyle collection is made with the softest pima cotton while adding such touches as silk, linen and forward new designs.


Christy Whitley has created 4 Love and Liberty for women who want to feel sexy, chic and hip. With such materials as silk voile, silk chiffon and Tencel cotton, the collection is recognized for its vintage-inspired feel but with a modern adaptation. These designs are embellished with hints of transparency, lace and rhinestones…an understated yet alluring image of sophisticated femininity.