Bowdoin students seem to have T-shirts for just about everything. From Common Good Day and the celebratory opening of Watson Arena, to social houses and athletic teams, it is safe to say that closets all around campus are overflowing with the ubiquitous cotton do-all clothing article.
Senior Tim Sullivan wants to add one more T-shirt to the pile.
Sullivan, an English major, unveiled his first collection of self-designed shirts late this summer. The brand, Outflux, is the product of a three-month launching effort and a lifetime of passion for style and music. Marketed as "streetwear for right now's generation of young people," Sullivan said, Outflux aims to bring unique and musically inspired clothing to the fashion forefront.
While Sullivan has harbored a longtime interest for fashion and graphic design, his realization of a concrete outlet for his passion came only in recent months.
"I had been kicking the idea of starting a T-shirt company for a while, but it was only this spring when I crystallized my vision of what I wanted to do," he said.
During his first two years at Bowdoin, Sullivan took a number of visual arts courses, including Drawing I and II. The summer after his sophomore year, he enrolled in a graphic design course at The School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. These courses provided the basis for his experience in design that he has drawn upon for the Outflux line.
More important than formal training, however, has been what Sullivan described as "learning as the process goes along."
"I read about style and design pretty frequently from a number of resources," he said.
This immersion and awareness of crosscurrents in fashion, according to Sullivan, is crucial to his development as a designer.
Inspired by high-end street wear brands, such as Billionaire Boys Club and BAPE, Sullivan strives to use "simple and fresh graphics" and incorporate messages within.
According to Sullivan, the heart of his line lies in a passion for music.
"For me, style and music are pretty inseparable. Style is defined by music and vice versa," he said.
Sullivan's T-shirts explore this relationship, drawing upon song lyrics to prefigure the design of the shirt. Rather than quoting the lyrics of other artists, Sullivan chooses to write his own for the shirt designs.
"A lot of shirts will quote song lyrics by famous artists, but I wanted to come up with words of my own," he said.
One particular shirt features the phrase "Dream out loud," incorporated with a simple speaker graphic. Smooth forms and clean lines dictate the composition, and the text intermingles effortlessly with image.
Though Sullivan's line has started modestly—the collection consists of three shirts at the moment—he has plans to expand his offerings for the summer of 2010.
The production process remains simple: Sullivan designs the shirts by hand with Adobe Illustrator and prints them through the New Hampshire-based Phoenix Graphics, located in his home town of Nashua, NH.
As of now, Sullivan has made his designs available for purchase online. Most of his sales, however, come from friends and acquaintances.
"Sales are going pretty well so far," he said. "Marketing my shirts is kind of a slow process, but I am working on spreading the word to as many people as possible."
Sullivan hopes to expand Outflux after graduating from Bowdoin by gradually adding more designs and establishing a stronger marketing base.
"It's definitely something I want to go into wholeheartedly," he said. "I probably won't be able to live off the company right away, but I am definitely going to pursue it to the fullest."
Sullivan's line is available for viewing and purchase at www.outfluxclothing.com. Shirt prices range from $21 to $23.