Wednesday, May 20, 2009

UC student starts T-shirt line | The Fashion Dungjen

A simple misspelling turned an idea into reality for one University of Cincinnati student.

Drew Oxley, a third-year communications student, first had an interest in designing T-shirts and creating his own clothing line while a junior in high school. Since then, the line has undergone several identity crises – beginning as ‘Seriously,’ and morphing into Partative.

Partitive, which means to break apart, was Oxley’s vision for his business. The bands who wore his T-shirts would be united by the brand, but would be broken apart throughout the country.

When Oxley commissioned his friend, Rachel Mason, a third-year graphic design student, to help design shirts, he gave her ‘Parative.’

And, with that, Parative was born.

Since its inception, Parative has released three collections – the most recent being Spring 2009.

“Right now I’m pretty much even or just a little bit under,” Oxley said of his financial prospects. “I’ve had three releases and the first [release] I didn’t keep track money wise but I broke even on
the second one. I’m a month into the third release so I’m just under on that one, obviously, but it’s fairly new.”

The T-shirts in Oxley’s collection all feature the ‘Parative’ tag which is usually incorporated into the design. In the newe
st collection, Parative is stretched the entire length of the bright-colored T-shirts in a gold metallic font.

The line includes a design which features a zebra and one that reads “smoking is killer cool.”

Oxley’s favorite design, however, is from an earlier collection.

“My favorite is the ice cream [design],” Oxley said. “At first I wanted to do it with chocolate syrup coming down saying ‘pretty please.’ ”

The T-shirt ended up looking like a giant ice cream sundae with chocolate syrup dripping down the mounds of ice cream spelling out Parative. And, of course, there’s a dollop of whipped cream and a cherry to top it off.

“The ice cream design
makes me hungry,” Mason said. “I don’t know, I’m just thinking about food all the time.”

Mason and Oxley met their first year at UC. Since then, Mason has designed most of the shirts in Oxley’s online store.

“Drew comes to me with his rough sketches and descriptive visions of what he wants a shirt to look like,” Mason said. “I make one sketch or numerous sketches and he helps make refinements to have the aesthetic that he wants.”

It isn’t just building a business that’s a learning process for Oxley, Mason makes it a point to show Oxley the process of working with software to create the designs.

The designs are sugary sweet, but they’re not even the best part about Parative.

Oxley is working with The Blind Project, a non-profit organization that works with children in South East Asia.

“[The Blind Project] doesn’t have the support or recognition that Invisible Children has,” Oxley said. “I want to make The Blind Project bigger, I feel like this nasty stuff that’s going on in Thailand needs a lot more attention to it. Hopefully I can help bring a little attention to their organization.”

Oxley donates a portion of his proceeds to The Blind Project.

So far, Parative has worked with 12 bands, but has five on the roster right now. Of those, most of them are Columbus-based bands, where Oxley is from.

Most of the T-shirts are $15 and can be purchased online at or on MySpace,

For more information on The Blind Project, visit

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