By Libby Redrup
In a year without Freshers, Beaverworks and bakery 164 library breaks, it’s easy to feel unfairly deprived of our Leeds student experience.
But there is a silver lining…
A new company, The Apparel, have provided a line of Leeds University branded Champion jumpers so students can represent their university without making a fashion sacrifice.
Daniel Lee and Yousif Alawoad, two recent University graduates found their travel plans floored due to the current Coronavirus pandemic. Rather than binge watching Tiger King and baking banana bread like the rest of us, they took on a fashion adventure to provide university branded Champion jumpers to the students of Leeds and Bristol.
Where did this idea come from?
When spending a year studying in the states Daniel was struck by how proudly US students wore their university merchandise. It’s common for students to wear jumpers branded with American Universities like ‘Yale’ and ‘Michigan, not only in the states but here in the UK too. But how is it that on one side of the Atlantic university merchandise means big business where on the other side it’s a fashion faux pas? It’s likely because university merchandise here in the UK reflects a gift shop Knockoff of the American alternative. Merchandise nearly identical to the traditional Leeds university jumpers (Like that found at Gear at the union) can be found at any other British university, it’s like a template with an *insert here* option for the university name and logo. The Apparel however is not customisation merch, it’s a fashion brand! They think it’s important to provide good quality, sustainable and stylish university clothing which reflects the individuality of the university it’s made for.
What is their Vibe?
The Apparel say they want to be as engraved in student culture as ‘a last-minute essay crisis or a kebab after a night out’. This is reflected in their Instagram (@theapparelltd), which is not like the usually cheesy prospectus but more like a true Leeds student yearbook. Showing creative and vintage shots of student fashion, house parties and icon bars across Leeds and Bristol. Their online presence is reflective of their strive to be fresh, relevant and reflective of student style.
Instead of mass-producing generic merchandise to universities across the UK they carefully selected to focus on Bristol and Leeds, where they believe fashion to be an integral part of the university culture. They told Lippy they see Leeds students fashion as ‘instantly recognisable’ and ‘intimidatingly cool’ and wanted to get under the skin of the university, really understanding what fashion means to its students and how this can be reflected in the university merchandise.
The Apparel recognise that sustainability is an important value for many students who feel the pressure to ‘fix the mess of the previous generations’ and have taken steps to ensure they are fulfilling this responsibility. This is not fast fashion! Products are all made from recycled material, so it feels similar to buying clothes from Depop or vintage shops. Packaging is minimal and is all recyclable and reusable. Items are made to order and all hand packaged, this reduces the need for unnecessary shipping and shows the personalisation and care that goes into every order. They are keen to uphold other values reflected by students, exclusively telling Lippy it’s important for them to be present and relevant to current events. It doesn’t make sense from a business perspective to make something that students wouldn’t want to buy into.
What does the future look like?
In the near future, The Apparel are looking for Campus Ambassadors to sell their clothing across campus, people who relate to their brand and believe in their vision. They are also looking for clubs and societies who are interested in having university branded clothing which (fashionably) represents their society. Eventually, The Apparel aims to be the go-to place for stylish and suitable university clothing. They want to provide a platform in which students can click on their website and find a variety of clothing with bespoke styles, designs and from a range of brands, each reflective of that universities unique culture. Think, one day it could be American students walking round campus with ‘Leeds’ on their jumpers.
If you are interested in becoming a campus ambassador or think your society needs fashionable university merchandise you can get in touch with The Apparel via email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
You can shop online at www.theApparel.co.uk.