UI freshman physiology major starts clothing line

BY JULIA JESSEN | APRIL 19, 2012 6:30 AM

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The design on Androu De Vera's black T-shirt is striking. The graphic letters in pure white boldly stand out in stylized script against the dark background of the shirt.

De Vera created the design himself. It was the first image he came up with for the clothing line he started last fall, Fresh to Death Society.

"It's very simple. It's to the point," he said. "I always like simplicity; that's how the whole design came out — it wasn't too extravagant."

Failing a chemistry test spurred the 19-year-old to an activity he found comfort in: drawing. He created the first design on paper, showed his friends and decided to start his own clothing company, something he had thought about for a while before the fateful test.

"I just love the fashion," De Vera said. "I always liked to dress different from everyone else — I don't like to look the same as everyone else."

The human physiology major started the line with his own savings and a loan from his parents, who would prefer that he stay focused on his medical studies.

"At first they thought it was really silly, like what are you doing, you're wasting your time," he said.

But De Vera's parents did start to feel a little better about his extracurricular pursuits when he showed them the growing following forFresh to Death Society.

The freshman takes inspiration from Chicago urban style, hip-hop dancing, random doodles, famous trendsetters such as Andre 3000 and Drake, and such magazines as GQ. However, he said, his line is unlike any other.

"I'm not trying to be like those other underground clothing lines where it's kind of gaudy," he said. "They steal a lot of ideas from other concepts — nothing's really original from them."

Word is spreading about Fresh to Death Society. De Vera said he's having trouble keeping up with the flow of orders coming in from states as far as California and New York. His biggest client base remains in Chicago, but he is trying to build up a bigger following in Iowa City by using strategic marketing methods.

"The problem is that these kids would rather spend money on drinking and partying, so it's kind of hard to sell the clothes," he said. "Every kid here loves to party, so what we've been doing is throwing parties, and that's our publicity."

Although De Vera's brand is growing and his new tank tops are very popular, he wouldn't encourage everyone to follow his path.

"I went through hell, but at the end of the day, it's all art," he said. " I love doing what I do — at the end of the day, it's not about the money. If you make it about the money. It's no longer fun anymore."

One of De Vera's friends, UI freshman Billy Vegas, DJ's for the designer's parties and wears the line to promote it. He said he respects De Vera's drive.

"The whole reason I support Androu so much is I'm a huge fan of young entrepreneurs — just kids our age trying to do something above the curve," he said.

Another friend of De Vera's, UI freshman Jeremy De Jesus, agreed.

"He has so many ideas he wants to put out," he said. "I think ambitious is the perfect word for him."

As De Vera continues to build his company, he has one ultimate goal in mind.

"My dream is to see my clothing line in New York City, Times Square," he said. "I just want to see my name up there, and that would be absolutely amazing if I could."

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