By Irvin Zhang, news correspondent
It started out as sketches of designs in a notebook. With encouragement from friends and family, senior pharmacy major Arthur Egbuchulam took the messages embedded within those sketches and stitched them into the fabric of his own clothing brand, Buch America.
“I told him that the sketches were powerful statements and that if he could put that onto a shirt, people would buy it. It’s an idea people would invest their money into,” said Djibril Diabate, lead marketer for Buch America and a third-year economics major.
Egbuchulam said he started working on Buch America in December 2015 to create an alternative clothing brand that “stands for something.” He launched the online store in March 2016.
The clothing brand comes from Egbuchulam’s name, and its style comes from his background. The brand he described as “casual urban prep” blends the styles of Boston and New York, which is Egbuchulam’s home city.
“I’ve always been into dressing up and looking nice,” Egbuchulam said. “I grew up around it. When I came to Boston, there was this preppy style that wasn’t around where I was. When they see Buch America, they see it’s this different, alternative look.”
Egbuchulam created his brand intending every design to have a message, something he said a lot of companies don’t have. For example, one of his designs is of two fingers crossed, representing a symbol for hope.
“A lot of companies, clothing brands and places we give our money to, they don’t stand for anything at all,” Egbuchulam said. “I want this brand to be socially aware of what’s going on in the U.S. My goal is to do that through the design and the marketing.”
Egbuchulam’s friend Satvik Mahajan, who manages the business’ finances, said he feels just as strongly about the clothes’ message.
“The clothing line is for everybody,” said Mahajan, a senior business administration major. “The type of designs that we have, it goes beyond things like your financial situation, your ethnicity, where you come from. They display real human emotions.”
Egbuchulam was inspired to start Buch America because he felt like there needed to be more clothing options that people can identify with, specifically ones that he felt he didn’t have when he was younger.
“For me, this is just about identity,” Egbuchulam said. “Growing up when I was a kid, as a young black man, there wasn’t that much that you could identify with. There was only hip-hop. I want to create more options for people. I dress this way, and I’m sure other people dress the way I do.”
Egbuchulam said there’s a lack of diversity in the world of fashion, which he tries to dispel through inclusive online branding. His online store features models of all different colors and genders.
“I was thinking to myself, as a black man, I like this style but there’s no brand that acknowledges my existence,” Egbuchulam said. “I’m a token. I set out to create a brand that’s inclusive and that’s positive.”
Since he first launched Buch America, Egbuchulam has invested $3,000 of his own money into the business. To run Buch America, Egbuchulam surrounded himself with a group of people who all want to help him succeed, namely Diabate and Mahajan.
“When he first started, he was doing it by himself,” Diabate said. “Now, he has more of a team […] who market for him and people that manage his finances. It’s helping the company grow.”
With his team around him, Egbuchulam said he is focused on growing the company into a “niche East Coast city staple.”
Egbuchulam said he wants his customers to feel good, look good and wear clothing that has a message.
“All my designs are based behind something positive,” Egbuchulam said. “I want it be a feel good brand.”
Photo by Derek Schuster