By Elizabeth Smislova
Patrick Alicki, GSB ’17, and Evan Solomon, FRCH ’17, are the creators and producers of a clothing company called JackRabbit Clothing.
The Fordham Ram: What are you majoring in? What else do you do around campus?
Patrick Alicki: I’m a Gabelli student majoring in business administration with a concentration in marketing. I’m also minoring in visual arts. Last year I interned at Rocksmith, which is a clothing brand in New York City. This past summer I interned at UNIFORM, a clothing brand start-up that uses fair trade manufacturing in Africa. I learned a lot of technical things about the clothing production process from those experiences.
Evan Solomon: I’m a double major in philosophy and international political economy. On campus, I’m the University Ambassador Chair of the Rose Hill Society. I oversee everything related to tours of Fordham. I am also a member of the Fordham Club and currently intern for the Development team at Success Academy Charter Schools.
TFR: How did the brand begin?
ES: We’ve known each other since high school and work really well together. We were both on the same page about starting a clothing company together — it felt like the next step.
PA: Before we started JackRabbit, we were using iron-on paper to create our own clothes. We have always been interested in streetwear, which encompasses a lot of hip hop, urban and casual style. There were lots of other local brands doing the same thing around the same time too.
ES: We sold our first shirts in the winter of 2012, and spring/summer of 2013 was when we released our first collection. Throughout the process, we’ve done everything on our own — our own website, own designs, own creating. We’ve taken a very hands-on approach.
TFR: What about the name?
PA: Everyone asks about the name. We had a brainstorming session for names and were playing with the idea of animals, and when JackRabbit came up, we thought it fit. Additionally, our tagline is “Survive!” and jackrabbits typically embody that ‘survive the wild’ persona. We kind of view ourselves in the same position in this industry, except we’re not running away from the competition, rather we’re running ahead. We want to be at the top of the food chain.
ES: The name at the beginning did not have a lot of meaning, but as time goes on it has pushed the brand in a certain direction.
PA: JackRabbit incorporates many themes and designs inspired by nature, but juxtaposes them with a raw and real streetwear aesthetic and feel. Having an animal as the name touches on a lot of what our brand stands for.
TFR: What is the creative process like?
PA: I’m the designer for JackRabbit, so as we went from collection to collection, we really tried to test the boundaries. At first, we looked at the different things we could do with screen printing, and then we started experimenting with other materials and techniques, like tie dye and splatter. One of our trademarks now is color changing ink.
ES: We’re always trying to do something new in each collection.
PA: And now that we have established our identity as a brand, we try to give each collection a theme. Our last one was “Migration.” The theme was a story of sorts. We both studied abroad last semester so it was like a homecoming for us and a return of the brand.
ES: Each collection progresses as a cohesive design. Also, outside of JackRabbit, we’ve printed shirts for other people, like local organizations and companies.
PA: It’s not a job, it’s hanging out with my friend. I love the process of taking ideation and making it into production, especially since we do everything ourselves. Almost every piece is screen-printed by hand in our Connecticut studio, so there is a DIY look and component to our clothes as well.
TFR: How do you advertise your brand to help it grow?
ES: We know who we are as a brand, so we’re ready to promote it. We used to be more focused on production, like figuring out how to actually make the clothes, but now we’re putting more attention into our social media and press presence.
PA: We have a Facebook and Instagram that have our past collections and information about us. We’ve also been featured in fashion blogs and two retail places in Connecticut. We’ve gotten a lot of sales from Reddit as well.
ES: With each collection we release a lookbook showcasing the new pieces. Many of the models have been Fordham students. Last year we also filmed a video lookbook with the help of a couple Fordham friends and students. We plan on doing more videography stuff in upcoming releases.
PA: We’re planning on doing a pop-up shop too, with other smaller brands interested to get more foot traffic. It will either be in New York City or Connecticut.
TFR: What is the next collection?
PA: Our next one is for the fall/winter and it’s called “Open Season.” The collection is inspired by hunting apparel and aesthetics, but with our own flip. We’re incorporating past staples of the brand like the splatter technique, but we’re also showing new things, like a hoodie with a camo pattern that we designed ourselves and a unique marbled camo t-shirt. It’s coming out toward the end of October.
ES: It’s our most cohesive collection yet. It’s very raw and gritty compared to our last collection that featured more pastel colors.
PA: We’re always looking for inspiration from nature and juxtaposing it to streetwear.
TFR: What’s it like trying to “survive” amongst mass retail stores?
PA: People in the streetwear community are always looking for things from smaller companies to stand out. A lot of our products are one of a kind because of the techniques we use in screen printing and we make them ourselves. It required least amount of investment capital in the beginning and gives us more flexibility. We get specialty products, such as thermochromic ink (color changes with temperature) shipped from Spain, that other retailers don’t use.
ES: It’s so doable to not go into a mass retail store. It’s important to offer unique selling points. Based on our research, no United States-based company provides that ink. Additionally, our stuff has a DIY feel to it, and that’s what we want. We’ve been able to carve out a space in the clothing industry with our creativity.
TFR: Do you think you will continue JackRabbit after graduation?
PA: I’m definitely going to work in the clothing industry, either with JackRabbit or somewhere else.
ES: I’m not on the path to work with clothing exclusively, but no matter what I want to be involved with JackRabbit.
PA: We’ve been able to manage the company in our free time throughout school, but it’s growing more and more. It’s only going to get bigger.
Check out JackRabbit Clothing on their website http://www.jackrabbit.us. Follow them on Twitter and Instagram as @JackRabbitCT. Use the code “FORDHAMRAM” for 20% off.