ONES TO WATCH: HILLFLINT
Ivy League graduates John Shi (Dartmouth ’12) and Woody Hines (Princeton ’12) always had an issue with mainstream collegiate apparel available at the typical university bookstore. The run-of-the-mill T-shirts and hoodies offered there are often mass-produced with no real design effort put into them. With this in mind, Shi and Hines went to work on their new Ivy-inspired sweater collection Hillflint.
“We wanted to make something that would really make us proud of our universities,” says Shi. “The merchandise at typical campus bookstores has no emotional connection to the heritage of the school, which really affects the fundamental purpose of this merchandise: to facilitate school pride.”
Shi figured he could create a product for his graduating class and sell it on Kickstarter for $85. He sold over 200 sweaters. So he reached out to Hines, who had previously run the style blog Men of Habit, to expand the line to Princeton. Hines hit similar numbers and today 30 percent of Dartmouth undergrads own a Hillflint product, according to the company. Now available at over 80 universities worldwide, Hillflint is giving fans and students a chance to wear something that shows true pride.
Even with this impressive growth, the duo isn’t done yet. “The goal is to find partners that authentically communicate the brand message,” says Shi. “We’re building shop-in-shops in a few department stores and looking for different ways to penetrate a market that doesn’t have many choices in terms of luxury collegiate merchandise.”