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April 19, 2010

Karl Orozco ’13

I alluded to this in an earlier blog, but this semester I am a part of the Oberlin Apparel Design Team. What is this exactly? Lucky for you, I have a whole blog post dedicated to this.

In the beginning of the semester, I was contacted by Ben Jones and Lauren Abendschein to be a part of the Oberlin Apparel Design Challenge. Sponsored by Oberlin Creativity & Leadership, this team of eleven students was responsible for conducting market research, collaborating with other students, faculty, and alumni, and most importantly, producing new Oberlin College bookstore apparel. The challenge spanned from the beginning of the semester until this previous weekend.

The first meetings that we had were meant to address what we did not like about the current bookstore output. Namely, almost all of the clothing sold at the bookstore was more or less the same color scheme, and that the only variant between articles was the font.

With this common goal to diversify the bookstore's clothing line-up, our group split up two ways: a marketing team and a design team. The marketing team's duties were to conduct student, faculty, and alumni surveys concerning what they wanted in a piece of Oberlin apparel. The design team was responsible for... well... designing! Sketching out potential looks, toying with color schemes, drawing templates, and (here's where I come in handy) finalizing designs on Illustrator.

Throughout our challenge, our team had a tremendous amount of help from Michael Alexin, an Oberlin alum and the current Vice President of Target's Product Design and Development team. Through very official-feeling video conferences, Michael was able to guide us through the process of creating and selling a new product line. Besides being incredibly approachable and cool (can someone please make a better word to use for "cool"?), Michael had oodles of wisdom to give us. Prior to Target, he was the Senior Vice President of Design and Product Development for Eddie Bauer, the Global Director of Apparel Merchandising at Nike, and Director of Design for the Dockers brand at Levi Strauss & Co. His experience in the merchandising industry was very helpful in getting our ideas narrowed down and making the decision processes a lot more concise.

In addition to Michael Alexin, we also got some great advice from Jerry Greenfield, also an Oberlin alum as well as the co-founder of Ben & Jerry's. Jerry told us "to make the ice cream that we want," or more applicably, design the clothing that we want to wear. This was probably the best piece of advice that helped me out in the long design process.

So. What were some of these potential designs? Our team came up with a pretty wide variety of designs and styles. I was specifically interested in making graphics for t-shirts (surprising, isn't it?). Now, not all of these designs will be featured in the bookstore next semester, but they could very well be showcased somewhere along the line. Feast your eyes!

"Yoga," by Kaley Diamond



"Picket," by Karl Orozco (Hey! That's me!)





"Twigs," by Alice Zicht





"Peters Hall," by Grace Amber





"Tree Hugger," by Joaquin Ruales





"Albino Squirrel," by Stephanie Tang





"Bike," by Asa Ivry-Block





"Krislovin'," by Karl Orozco





"Womb Chair," by Karl Orozco





"Center of the Universe," by Karl Orozco



These are just a few of the designs that the group had floating around. As of now, I believe that Yoga, Twigs, Womb Chair, Albino Squirrel, and Center of the Universe will officially be available for purchase next year. Krislovin' also might be, but I am not totally sure.

If I'm allowed to talk a little about my designs, I'd like to take the time to do that now. You have no choice but to listen. Well, actually, you do. You could just scroll down, or hit 'backspace,' or go and check your Facebook. But I'm just going to pretend that you are stuck here and have to listen to me ramble about some random graphics:

  • "Yoga" will be printed on the backside flap of black yoga pants, so that the design can be seen when the pants are folded over.

  • "Picket" draws on Oberlin's history of social activism and protest. The red paint is meant to mimic writing on picket signs.

  • It's about time an albino squirrel is featured on a piece of Oberlin Apparel.

  • "Krislovin'" is a play on Andy Warhol's depiction of Chairman Mao.

  • One thing that Oberlin Alums felt connected to were the colorful womb chairs in Mudd Library. We responded to this desire with "Womb Chair." Predictable... I know...

  • I am especially happy with "Center of the Universe," which is also a play on an old New Yorker cover. I designed this graphic to serve two purposes: to educate the large amount of the non-Obies who have no idea where Oberlin, OH, is and to expound the fact that sometimes Oberlin College feels like a bubble.



I am ridiculously stoked to see pieces of my own work being bought and worn by others next year. I'd liken this feeling to the amount of giddiness I feel when I see someone has taken down one of my posters on the first floor of King or in a Mudd Library stairwell. Overall, I had a good time working on all of these designs! It was really cool to work with a group of students with different strengths and styles. I'd like to see what future generations of Oberlin Apparel can produce.

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