Meet the freshers behind the new unofficial Oxford Brookes clothing brand

OBU Threads is selling unofficial Brookes hoodies and sweatshirts

Lockdown has been busy for first-year Brookes students Charlie Phipps and Max Mills. Phipps and Mills are the brains behind new unofficial Oxford Brookes clothing merchandise brand, OBU Threads. We spoke to the creators,Charlie Phipps, 20, first-year Law student and Max Mills, 19, first-year Real Estate student to find out more about their brand.

Why did you create the business?

When this academic year began last September, there were a lot of students that were disappointed by the overwhelmingly poor selection of branded apparel that’s officially sold by the university. I couldn’t understand why this was – so we made up our minds within the first few weeks of university that we’d do something about it.

We initially wanted to produce just one design and sell that exclusively, but eventually the idea evolved into the concept of a student-driven clothing line that releases drops of completely restyled designs every other month.

This way, throughout the academic year, students will be offered a wide variety of high-quality branded OBU hoodies/sweatshirts that are designed to appeal to what students want out of their clothes.

Tell us about your products

Max and I worked together on Zoom over the Christmas break to brainstorm ideas for the design and once we had something substantial that we liked, we took what we’d come up with to a freelance graphic designer.

The hardest part of the process was finding a reliable, high quality printing company to work with – we ended up ordering sample blanks from a bunch of different companies and went with what we found superior. 

As well as a superior design, we feel that one of the key selling points of our hoodies is that they are time-stamped with the year that they were designed and printed in.

With two national lockdowns in one academic year, the Brookes student population has been alienated from any sense of a ‘university community’ for a long time – we hope that our products boost the sense of community in Brookes students and just generally make people happy.

Why did you choose to give money to ActionAid?

We decided that 5 per cent of every sale would be donated to ActionAid because they are a charity which does work that we both believe is very important.

On ActionAid’s website they describe what they do: “ActionAid is an international charity that works with women and girls living in poverty. Our dedicated local staff are changing the world with women and girls. We are ending violence and fighting poverty so that all women, everywhere, can create the future they want.”

We chose ActionAid because both Max and I have younger sisters and believe that the discrimination, violence and poverty that ActionAid fights is something no woman should ever have to go through.

Where do you hope the business to be in five years?

In five years, we will have graduated from university. Before then, I hope we can grow our following within the student community to a point where the majority of Oxford Brookes related hoodies/sweatshirts are sold by us.

We understand this goal is ambitious and that’s part of the reason why we plan to produce an entirely new design every other month – to guarantee that throughout every academic year people are offered so many choices they’ll have no choice but to admit they like one or more of them before the year is done.

If we successfully get to that stage, we will likely give control of the website/business operations to a group of sharp first-year students.

You can find OBU Threads’ website here and their Instagram here.

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