There are a lot of things that start in Amsterdam: one of the many weekends of uni life that you’ll barely remember afterwards, one-night experiences that will stay in the red-light district, an appreciation for Van Gogh and Rembrandt… but Amsterdam can also be the birthplace of a new idea of fashion.
Before the beginning of his second year, University of Surrey student Jeremy Irving was spending his summer in Amsterdam, where he is originally from, when the idea came to him. He recalls, “My brother works for a brand called Paperchase, so he just gave me a few tips on, not even starting a brand, but just starting a trend. So it started with just the name Starcrew and my cousin and I thought that the name might sound childish to others or just cliché, but the reason we used it was that we wanted to chase our dreams and become successful and become ‘stars’ in our own unique way. And I felt that if we actually bring more people into this, people that want to achieve their dreams as well, then we can actually become a crew and within that crew everyone is achieving their dreams.”
Soon, however, Starcrew became more than a name for Jeremy’s friend group: “It started with our group and we were just using the name as a trend, putting it on Instagram, Snapchat, all that. But then people started actually seeing what we were doing; we had a jumper and a shirt just for ourselves and we’d go out wearing it and people would ask: ‘Where did you get that from’? Sometimes we used to hesitate to answer that question and say that we made it, but then they’d be like ‘oh wow!’ It came to the point where we thought… we could make a brand out of this.”
Sure enough, the Starcrew logo adorns the collection of basic tees, one of the main parts of the collection on the renewed Starcrew site. For Jeremy, the philosophy behind his designs are simple: “When you wear a Starcrew shirt, what I feel is that you are part of the crew as well, you represent my brand and it’s just something chill and cool to wear.”
The Starcrew designs brag a variety of colours and have that chilled-out yet statement effect that can take you from stumbling around uni in the morning with a coffee in hand to an evening stroll around High Street – much like any other tee-and-jean combo, changing it up for a night out, especially for the ladies, is all about accessorizing. Another advantage of the brand: it’s unisex – anyone can be part of the crew.
But the list of advantages doesn’t stop there – Jeremy is passionate about his brand and that is true down to a tee. Attention is paid when it comes to the quality of the Starcrew items: “With our fabrics, it’s straight from the suppliers,” Jeremy says firmly, explaining how he goes about picking out the fabrics himself. He believes that the shirts need to be comfortable, an investment in quality material, which is what sets his designs apart from any Primark T-shirt. As for the pricing, Jeremy doesn’t forget that in its roots Starcrew is a youth brand – “I went around uni, showing the shirts and asking people how much they would buy it for. At the end of the day, the brand is all about what students can afford.”
As a Bioscience student himself, Jeremy knows a thing or two about affordable style. He finds that he prefers to change up his style more – his personal style is simple but statement, like his designs. He likes to have fun with clothes, throw things together in the spur of the moment and, if it works, he’ll go for it – and usually get the “What are you wearing? How did you work this out?” as a result.
It hasn’t all been easy and fun though. One of the hardest things when you are starting up your business is accepting that, although a lot of people might be enthusiastic at the beginning and willing to devote time, that number will become smaller and smaller as time goes by, especially when uni work is in the way. Jeremy is very familiar with that situation: “[In the beginning,] it was five of us… There was one event that we went to and that was our last event as a group and after that literally everyone took a break. Within that break though everyone’s drive faded and they just drifted away. It came to the point where it was just me and one other person and we were trying to pick the brand up and see what we can do with it – just try not to make it fail. And then that person backed out… I respected that – everyone has their own stuff to do in university anyway. But it did hurt me, because we all came into Starcrew with that passion and drive and then I felt like it was just me and myself.”
So how do you pick yourself up from something like that? Especially when recently yet another person Jeremy had brought into the brand backed out. “Don’t worry,” he texts me when I express concern. “Stars don’t sleep. I never stop.”
And apparently he doesn’t: Jeremy’s brand site has gone through a make-over and is now up and running, the collection is out and his third year is about to start. So next time you are juggling too many things or feeling your motivation waning, remember that stars don’t sleep and join the crew.
Check out Jeremy’s website: http://www.starcrewcity.com/
Text by Alice Vily
Photography by Olivia Mitchell.