Emil Levin is a 27-year-old style influencer born with the rare disease called SMA 2 (Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type 2). As a burgeoning Instagram influencer (@mrlevino), Mr. Levin has been invited to Pitti Uomo and continues to explore his interests in media, history, and language while staying true to his philosophy to “focus on what you can control, let go of the rest.”
Q: How did your style journey begin?
For as long as I can remember I’ve had an interest in style. To be honest, I can’t say where it began, whether it was from my mother being a hairdresser and constantly styling me for school, or me simply enjoying looking good.
What I do know is how it evolved. Being born with a physical disability, I realized from an early age that I was different than everyone around me. This feeling pushed me to excel in areas where I was on the same playing field as everyone else. One of these areas was style.
For as long as I can remember I’ve had an interest in style
Q: Have you always embraced the sartorial style?
Not always. When I started high school I began to truly experiment with style. I went from baggy t-shirts with jeans, to more expensive Lacoste shirts and then back to the baggy t-shirts again.
I tried different hairstyles to find the perfect fit for me; I even had a mullet before it came back in style. However, I’d never really realized the potential and power of clothing, and style in general.
I’d really realized the potential and power of clothing
Q: When did you realize the power that clothing gives you?
Years later when I started to read more books, I quickly learned how fast people judge our appearance.
That knowledge was experienced firsthand on many occasions. One example was how different I was treated by the staff when I went to a specific restaurant wearing a simple t-shirt compared to a three-piece suit.
This is honestly what sparked my love for the sartorial style. Not only do they look good and compliment a person’s body, but the association we have with suits is that they command respect. This helped me to feel more secure and stronger in something I couldn’t change: My body.
suits command respect
Q: Why have you started posting on Instagram?
After buying my first three-piece suit when I was around 20, I started to post on different Facebook groups. After noticing a general interest I created, I started an Instagram.
It was here that my sartorial journey skyrocketed, as I was invited by Lanifico Cerrutti and Cad & the Dandy to Florence for their Six for Six event at Pitti Uomo in 2019.
I was invited to Pitti Uomo for their Six for Six event
I was quite surprised to be invited to collaborate on such a great project and it was truly an honor.
In Florence, I met many great people including Giorgio Giangiulio, who has been a big inspiration for me when it comes to the sartorial style. I think this boost, this realization that people enjoyed my photos, made me continue to post.
Q: What inspires you?
I’ve always been inspired by many different people from totally different fields and eras, from the stoics like Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius to MMA fighters like Conor McGregor; from Casanova to the pirates during the golden age of piracy.
I think this fascination with different historical people and time periods has also influenced my style, as I sometimes like to incorporate elements from various historical times.
When it comes to the sartorial style, people like Giorgio Giangiulio and Niccolò Cesari have long been an inspiration.
Q: Do you have any other interests?
I’ve always been very artistic in life and I’ve experimented with many different art forms like video editing, music production, painting, 3D work, singing, photography, and so on.
I suppose this is also why clothing comes pretty naturally to me: how to color match, which fabrics and patterns that go together, for example.
A passion of mine is languages. After having read the memoirs of Casanova, and read countless material on the Medicis I realized how much I loved Italy’s culture and history. So after I came home from the trip I decided to learn the language.
It’s three years later now and I can proudly say I speak Italian fairly well. I am currently slowly but steadily learning Japanese.
A passion of mine is languages
I know that this will take time to master, and I am prepared for that. I don’t think in days or weeks, I think in decades. I tell myself: If I do this 1 hour every day, in 10 years that’s around 3,650 hours. If you apply this method to let’s say three things, you will become great at many things as the years pass. Consistency is the key.
Q: What is your current focus?
What I am currently focusing on is elevating my editing skills in both photography and video, producing mostly short clips illustrating my style and journeys of my life. Living with SMA 2 can be rough, but I am extremely grateful for what I have and the way I live has always been unconsciously influenced by the stoic thinking of “Focus on what you can control, let go of the rest.”
Focus on what you can control, let go of the rest
Q: Do you have any goals?
My goal in my life is to portray beauty and style in all their forms. To inspire people to dare to do what they love, to dress how they want to dress despite what people say, and to simply come alive.
Through my Instagram, I am always welcoming brands to collaborate with, whether that be modeling, photoshoots, or bigger projects.
I hope this little text gave you some pleasure and inspiration to pursue your goals. If you have any questions, feel free to write to me at @mrlevino on Instagram.