Isabelle McGrew and Riley Rojas’ clothing brand emerged from feelings of frustration and insecurity.
In response, McGrew and Rojas, third- and second-year political science students, respectively, created Izzy & Riley, a college game-day clothing company. The brand’s website officially launched Sept. 12 after the pair spent months building up anticipation on their Instagram. McGrew and Rojas said they strive to offer a diverse selection of clothing products, such as tops with various styles and fits, to combat the often limited collections of game-day clothing.
“Our whole theme and motto of our fashion line is, ‘We want there to be new pieces constantly,’” Rojas said. “We don’t want there to just be the same type of tops, we want there to be a lot of diversity.”
Izzy & Riley dates back to last winter, when McGrew and Rojas initially brainstormed the brand. McGrew said she felt frustrated at the limited collection available to UCLA students and insecure when she found herself wearing the same outfits as many others. The only way for students to sport original outfits to games was by creating the apparel themselves, she said. McGrew herself struggled with the artistic process, leading her to reach out to Rojas, her sorority sister who often ironed on her own designs.
“I remember the specific moment (McGrew) looked at me and she (said), ‘Riley, let’s just start a company,’ and I (said), ‘All right let’s do it,’” Rojas said. “From that moment, that’s all I could talk about for weeks.”
The pair started selling clothes to campus sororities before the website went live, Rojas said, since their consolidated groups are easy to market to. Now, the two hope to broaden their spectrum, McGrew said. They currently aim to cater to specialized requests, as the website has an option for customers to submit their name and request a certain type of top. McGrew said they have received custom-wear requests from the UCLA gymnastics team and clothing requests from additional UCLA sororities and students at other campuses, including San Diego State University and UC Berkeley.
Keith Gibson, an alumnus and senior consultant at Startup UCLA who McGrew and Rojas reached out to about the brand, said the pair worked to cater to their initial market. By first introducing their clothing to the Greek life at UCLA, Gibson said McGrew and Rojas utilized their strengths and identified a steady target audience to begin growing their business. If the brand succeeds at UCLA, Gibson said Izzy & Riley will likely enter a wider market and branch out to other colleges.
While they already sell some apparel through their website– which they supply from a printing factory – McGrew said the brand will soon release new products. One of the concepts the duo hopes to implement is a “top of the week,” where only a limited number of one specific top is offered for that week exclusively. After that week, the top will sell out or be removed from the website, ensuring that only a few students own the piece.
“I remember my freshman year, going to games, and I’d buy a tube top from one of the few companies that exist, and I’d think, ‘Okay, this is fine.’ And then I’d show up and there would be 30 other girls wearing the exact same tube top as me,” McGrew said. “I felt unoriginal … and that’s something that we’re really trying to steer away from.”
Some of their designs currently in the works include overalls, jean jackets and cropped T-shirts. Additionally, McGrew said her and Rojas plan to add higher-cut tank tops to their website and various bodysuits to cater to womens’ varied personal preferences, such as comfort level, size and breast size. While the brand currently caters only to women, Rojas said she and McGrew plan to design a men’s line in the near future.
Besides encouraging customers to find clothes that match their personal styles, Izzy & Riley’s message is “for students by students,” Rojas said. While older entrepreneurs are often the ones managing game-day clothing brands, McGrew said she and Rojas can better keep up to date on campus clothing demand by considering their own style, asking their peers and seeking requests on the website. The pair plans to collaborate with other universities to design additional lines, but ultimately wants to maintain UCLA as their focal point.
“We’re going to advertise to a large group so that everyone is able to find a top and be like, ‘This makes me feel beautiful, this makes me feel awesome and it makes me excited for game day,’” McGrew said.