UA student James Smelser started his clothing line, Vinchela, as a way to create unique and original designs for his closet.
The biochemistry junior from Chicago grew up watching his mother work in the fashion industry.
Smelser said Vinchela means “Ingenuity at its finest,” and he picked the name because it sounded original and expensive.
As a solo entrepreneur, Smelser was inspired by current streetwear trends to start designing his own clothing line.
“It’s been picking up pretty fast,” Smelser said.
His designs have been featured in celebrity Instagram posts and music videos. Two years after Smelser made his original designs on Microsoft Word in 2015, celebrities such as Soulja Boy , Lil Herb and Taylor Bennett have been seen wearing Smelser's take on current streetwear trends.
Smelser described his apparel as a medium where people can wear original designs that look expensive. The brand prices each item between $15 and $120. The range of apparel for the brand provides a look for different occasions.
“It’s a brand that's unique and different,” Smelser said.
Smelser has been able to learn and grow with his company by observing the success of other brands such as streetwear brands Supreme and Pink Dolphin.
Being at UA allows Smelser to engage with customers his own age. He said he's been able to see his designs worn by students and has had the opportunity to talk with fans and hear how the brand has impacted their style.
Smelser said students get excited when they hear that he is the creator of Vinchela.
Vinchela’s growing popularity has inspired Smelser to keep expanding his business and continue creating original content for his clothing line.
Smelser said the reason he continues to expand his brand is to make people happy and stay grounded.
He plans to switch his major to business and focus on graduation while he is still in school. Balancing school and his business has taken time to get used to, Smelser said.
Smelser and his mother both agree that school comes first and Vinchela is Smelser's job in his free time.
Smelser said surrounding himself with people allows him to stay positive and act as a leader for his brand.
One day Smelser wants to eventually be able to give back and provide clothing to people in need.
Smelser said it is important for teenagers to see someone being successful to prove it is really possible to achieve one's goals.
Vinchela offers a selection of T-shirts, hats, bomber jackets and more on https://vinchelaonline.com and the line can also be found at NowADays on Fourth Avenue. Smelser said he offers promo codes for free shipping.
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