By Emily Squance, Blogger
College apparel used to be such a male-dominated field but recently there has been a growing number of stores that have changed that. Hype & Vice, an online “game day apparel” boutique, caters to what women actually need and want in college apparel. Cecilia Gonzalez and Kimberly Robles founded the popular Los Angeles-based brand as a startup business in 2015.
The college apparel market was estimated to be a $4.6 billion dollar industry in 2013 and only continues to grow. However, the options for women have always been limited and many college-aged girls resort to altering their own clothing (think bleach die and DIY crop tops) to make them more suitable for their own style.
“It was clear to us that female consumers are an underserved and overlooked demographic when it comes to collegiate apparel sales,” Robles stated in an interview with Forbes.
Robles and Gonzalez met when they were both attending school in Southern California in 2013. They both bonded over combining their love of fashion with their school spirit and noticed many women at their university wanted to wear trendy game day clothes but didn’t have many options. So, they decided to order wholesale fabric to make skirts, crop tops and trendy sweatshirts out of their downtown Los Angeles apartment and presented them to social clubs on their campus. Shortly after, their website started to gain popularity and they decided to make road trips to other campuses.
Robles and Gonzalez have launched their business on ten different campuses along with having 61 additional licenses signed with various other colleges (including Ohio University!). Hype & Vice has even gone viral through social media platforms such as TikTok and Instagram. The brand has taken advantage of the digital world and shown their skills in not only marketing, but PR and sponsoring as well and has curated an Instagram full of pictures from real college students.
Robles and Gonzalez have ensured their brand is not only diverse but is sustainable, too. Approximately 4% of the world’s solid waste comes from the fashion industry. With the use of software, Hype & Vice is able to gauge what is going to sell, therefore avoiding producing more product than needed.
Hype & Vice not only has a wide range of colleges and styles to select from, but they also provide their customers with opportunities to become involved in the company itself. They hire full-time college students to become Campus Captains for their university. These Captains share their opinions on what’s trending on campus along with providing recommendations on how to effectively market to their campus. Hype & Vice also has a Campus Sweetheart program that allows college influencers to be given their newest styles in exchange for social media posts.
Hype & Vice continues to evolve and extend their reach to new markets. They are constantly signing licenses with more colleges around the US to boost their exposure and sales. They may have started out small but through the use of successful marketing and stylish clothing, they’ve created a community that has empowered many young women everywhere.