Valid Culture is not just a clothing line. As its name implies, it’s lifestyle-a culture.
What started as an inside joke between Trey Amar, CSOM ’15, and Michael Felix, A&S ’15, eventually grew into a brand that has garnered a decent amount of attention across campus.
Initially, they designed two simple black hoodies for themselves, printing the Valid Culture logo on them. They developed the idea for their sweatshirts from fashions they had seen online, but they adapted the look to fit their own styles-they “validated” it, Amar explained.
He and Felix wanted clothes that suited their personalities, which couldn’t necessarily be bought in stores-but it “never occurred to [them] to make a business.”
When people began seeing Amar and Felix wearing the hoodies around, they started asking whether and where they could buy them. From those first two pieces, Valid Culture expanded, and it is continuing to expand, to include not only more kinds of apparel (crew necks, t-shirts, sweaters, beanies, and tanks), but also more kinds of fashions.
Amar describes the look of Valid Culture as “urban wear” or “street wear,” comparing it to brands like Obey. Although these comparisons are simple enough to make, the Valid Culture brand is not so easily defined. While it is influenced by what Felix and Amar consider their own sartorial preferences, the brand is meant to bring together a number of looks-from prep to skater. It’s meant to be, as Amar said, “a melting pot of ideas and styles.”
This kind of open-mindedness characterizes both the Valid Culture look and attitude. To Amar, the brand is about embracing “things you might not necessarily be comfortable with.” True to its name, Valid Culture supports “validating or making your own culture.”
“That’s what we want the brand to mean,” Amar said. “Even if they don’t like the clothes, we want people to understand the state of mind behind it.”
Because Amar and Felix want Valid Culture to reflect a diverse range of fashion influences-and hence appeal to a broad spectrum of people-they’ve been recruiting more members to their team. They look for fresh ideas and new angles for the brand. Recently, they hired a photographer (Paola Cisneros, A&S ’15), two bloggers (Bernadette Deron and Jennifer Sosa, both A&S ’15), and a representative (Owie Agbontaen, A&S ’16). Although Amar and Felix are excited to be expanding their crew and bringing in different perspectives, it’s not easy to do.
“It’s a very cool process, but we’re also letting go a little bit of what we love,” Amar said.
This kind of expansion will enable Valid Culture to reach people not only at Boston College, but at other schools as well. Amar and Felix actively promote and market their apparel through Facebook, Twitter, their website, their blog, and word-of-mouth, but they aren’t stopping with social media. They’ve been trying to give the brand a more physical presence on campus, starting with the Black Student Forum’s spring fashion show.
“It’s definitely a first for us, but we’re ready to learn on the fly,” Amar said.
Planned for April, the show has allowed Felix and him to explore new directions for their line. They plan both to innovate with new designs and bring back some of its classic ones for the show.
Although Valid Culture has “played it safe” in the past, Amar and Felix plan to take more risks with the brand moving forward.
“We wanted people to know who we were first, before we started doing crazy things-like with designs and colors,” Amar said. “But now that we’re expanding, we’ll do more noticeable things. We’ll grab attention.”
Amar and Felix have created quite the following for Valid Culture so far. Whether it’s the brand’s trendy street apparel, the duo’s independent outlook, or a combination of the two, the exact ingredients to Valid Culture’s success aren’t obvious. What is clear, though, is that Valid Culture is catching eyes and starting conversations on campus.
“It sort of sounds controversial,” Amar said. “A lot of people are intrigued by the name-people think it signifies some sort of movement, and I really think it could be one.”