When you walk across the University of Leeds campus, it is rare if you don’t see someone wearing the beloved ¼ zips or showing off their societies new merchandise. However, a brand-new clothing company, ‘The Apparel’ wants to take university clothing a step forward and create sweatshirts that symbolise the ‘best three years of your life.’ I was fortunate to speak to the co-creators Daniel Lee and Yousif Alawoad, the faces behind the new company who design University clothing for Leeds and Bristol specifically.
So a bit about you guys, how did you meet and how did you form your clothing range?
‘We actually met at Law school and were meant to go travelling together this year to Australia. Obviously because of Covid-19 we couldn’t do this, so rather than wasting time we decided to take initiative to start something new.’
‘I, (Daniel,) actually spent some time studying in America, where I saw many students wearing merchandise for their university. At this point, I compared this to English Universities and realised that University clothing isn’t as popular.’
At this point, the two boys told me how they went for a pint and started brainstorming ideas about a new clothing company that was consequently born in August 2020.
If you could tell us what inspired your designs, why in particular have you focused on Leeds and Bristol?
‘We wanted to be authentic and represent specific Universities. We knew Leeds and Bristol have a very distinct vibe of clothing, with many students studying or having an interest in art and fashion. We therefore worked with some designers with the aim to represent British minimalism.
We focused on sweatshirts specifically as they’re very versatile. People can wear them clubbing, to lectures or just to chill in. In terms of the font used, we wanted to be instantly recognisable and used font you’d see in textbooks.’
How would you describe your business ethos and who are you specifically targeting?
Our primary focus are students at the two universities, Leeds and Bristol. However we also want to target young people who live and work in the cities, such as University graduates. We strongly believe that Uni is the best 3-4 years of your life, and we want to create clothing to reflect that. Our main aim is to create a platform where you can associate your time at University.’
Could you discuss your journey with the apparal so far and with the ongoing lockdown, have you faced any additional challenges?
‘The journey we have both had so far has been the most educational experience we’ve ever had. We are extremely excited and passionate about it, but there are challenges. Initially, it was actually creating a design that reflects our idea. There was obviously the pandemic too, which is probably the hardest time to start a company. This means we really had to shift ‘The Apparel’ to online platforms and when we were fortunate to try and sell them on campus, take the necessary precautions such as wearing masks and spraying jumpers with anti-bac.
We deal with problems quite pragmatically however, and consider whether people like the threading on our embroidery, the colours of our designs etc.
Overall we are almost thankful for the current climate, as without the pandemic, our business venture would not have started and we’d actually be travelling in Australia! It’s nice working with a friend as it doesn’t feel like our job at all, and we’re laughing the whole time.
What’s the future of your business? Would you like to branch out to more universities or do different clothes, such as joggers for example.
‘We 100% want to branch out to different Universities in the future. However we do not just want to scratch the surface we want to know exactly what the University is about before we start designing, it won’t just be a random scatter design.’
For people wanting to purchase your products, how can they go about it?
‘To discover more about us and what we’re trying to create, visit our Instagram @theapparelltd. This really gives an insight into what we’re about and highlights our authenticity. We also have a website, www.theapparel.co.uk.’
Not only is the brand new and fashionable, it is also extremely sustainable. The boys stated they aim to ‘clean up previous generations messes’, so all their jumpers are 50% recyclable material. Therefore, not only are you helping the environment through purchasing a jumper, you can wear all things Leeds proudly on and off campus.
Image credits- www.theapparel.co.uk