Driven by the lack of fashion-forward college T-shirts in her Duke University bookstore, as well as her interest in socially responsible apparel manufacturing, Rachel Weeks is determined to turn her School House brand into a major apparel player.
Weeks, who graduated from Duke in 2007 with a degree in women’s studies, traveled to Sri Lanka that same year on a U.S. Fulbright Scholarship to start her own ethical apparel brand. She spent the year learning about apparel production and developing relationships with clothing companies.
“After living in Sri Lanka for a year, I learned everything there is to know about T-shirts, worked to develop a sample line and used $20,000 of my own money to hire a creative director,” Weeks explained of her productive year abroad.
That creative head, who is also now Weeks’ business partner, is Colleen McCann, a Pittsburgh native who brings experience in design from companies including Betsey Johnson and Under Armour.
“It was really important for me to create a product that people would want to buy, something they haven’t already seen in the collegiate clothing already out there,” Weeks said. “But it was also important for me to find a manufacturing partner who agreed to pay their employees fair wages that they could live on.”
To make sure fair wages are paid, Weeks said she pays a premium price to her suppliers, which is what she calls “a small step in the right direction” when it comes to ethical manufacturing efforts.
Upon returning home to Greensboro, N.C., from Sri Lanka, Weeks made an appointment to meet with Jim Wilkerson, Duke’s director of trademark licensing and storesoperations, who ended up ordering $100,000 worth of School House products to sell in Duke’s on-campus stores. Weeks said the product is selling exceptionally well at Duke, which has encouraged her to sell to other colleges throughout North Carolina. Today, she sells to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University, among others.
In hopes of expanding the brand’s reach even more, Weeks traveled to Texas A&M University earlier this year, walked into their bookstore and was told to contact Barnes & Noble, which runs that bookstore and about 600 other college bookstores nationwide.
“I cold-called Barnes & Noble and managed to get a meeting,” she said.
As a test, Barnes & Noble agreed to put a small amount of product in two of its university stores — Yale and Harvard. The collection has only been on sale at Yale for about two months, Harvard about one month, and it’s already performing over plan, she said. As a result, Weeks is currently in talks with Barnes & Noble to expand to more college stores for spring.
The collection wholesales from $7.50 for a pair of underwear to $40 for a hoodie. The line includes a wide range of T-shirts, tanks, cardigans, sweats and shorts. The difference between School House and many other collegiate lines out there, Weeks explained, is that a lot of attention is paid to creating trend-driven graphics and contemporary fitted clothes — this is not your traditional, boxy college sweatshirt, Weeks explained.
Weeks’ goal is to be in about 75 stores next year, but she wants to be careful to not grow too quickly. To date, she has just passed $300,000 in orders for the North Carolina schools as well as Harvard and Yale.
“Not bad for two girls from North Carolina and Pittsburgh,” she said.
@chanel and @pharrell dropped what’s being dubbed as the world’s most exclusive sneakers yesterday. The Adidas Originals NMD Hu, which Williams designed in collaboration with Chanel and @adidasoriginals, has a waiting list of over 120K people who pre-registered online at chanelatcolette.fr –– and only 500 pairs are on sale. The singer predicted the resale value of the shoes could reach $40K. Read the full interview on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdfashion
@imanshumpert is diving deeper into his creative endeavors and relaunching his clothing line, Post 90s, and is helping to raise money for the hurricane victims in St. Maarten with a jersey he’s designed with his brother. The Cleveland Cavaliers player talked to WWD about kneeling during the national anthem, working with fashion brands and how he wants to be more than an @nba player. Read the interview on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
Not only does #TheProfit return to CNBC tonight, but @marcuslemonis has launched @shopmarcus, a new shopping and lifestyle retail experience in Aspen and Chicago, with more locations to come. The retail stores offer in-store stylists and a variety of contemporary womenswear selections.
“It’s life, I’m going to face it,” @mingxi11 sighed. “I fell, but you know, I think the most important thing is that I get back up. I had the love, the help from my sister — the girl next to me Gizele [Oliveira] — she’s so nice. When I went backstage everybody was trying to comfort me like ‘Oh Ming, it’s OK.’ I’m really, really touched. I think it’s them who gave me the courage to go back on stage for the finale,” Xi told WWD of her fall at the @victoriassecret fashion show. (📷: David Fisher) #wwdfashion #vsfashionshow #victoriassecret
@louisvuitton tapped @therealpeterlindbergh for its latest city-centric photo book, which is part of a series called Fashion Eye. The primarily black and white book captures the spirit of Berlin in 57 images shot between 1989 and 2019. “Berlin is an inspiration for me, more than a city. I mean @millajovovich is simply Berlin!” said Lindbergh. #wwdfashion
“You know, I think audiences expect a certain performance so I have to deliver to them what they’re expecting to a certain degree. But I’m also a different actor and a different person, I have my own spin on the character,” says @noahegalvin of his takeover of the leading role in “Dear Evan Hansen” following the departure of @bensplatt, who originated the role. Read WWD’s interview with the 23-year-old actor on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
For pre-fall 2018, @etro created richly-colored wonderland, using tapestries, textiles and wallpapers from the Eastern world at large. The line featured floral and graphic prints and jacquard motifs, like this two-piece look featured here. #wwdfashion (📷: Giovanna Pavesi)
@kith is moving into children’s. The men’s and women’s streetwear brand has launched Kidset, a Kith kids line located in New York at 64 Bleecker Street. The line includes mini versions of staple Kith pieces like the Astor bomber jacket and the Kith box logo sweatshirts, along with a wall that can display up to 120 pairs of shoes from @adidas, @newbalance, @timberland and more. #wwdfashion
“I just wanted to create this fully rounded character, but I do think what excited me most was just the opportunity to give a group of people representation that I feel needs it. I like to do characters in projects that stand for something and Karolina definitely does, so that was really exciting to me,” @ginnygardner says of her new role in @hulu’s “The Runaways.” Gardner plays Karolina Dean, a queer superhero, which is a rarity for @marvel. Read more about Gardner’s character on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @dandoperalski)