Remember thrift shopping? Well, vintage clothing is back in style. A new fashion brand launched in Toronto, U of Meg, picks up on the trend and offers university students a chance to express their school pride and individuality.
Megan Chong, a Rotman commerce student at the University of Toronto, turned her love of fashion into a business during the COVID-19 pandemic by starting her own clothing brand specializing in customized university merchandise.
“I rework authentic university merchandise,” she said. “I either buy stuff from the bookstore or I thrift items and I rework it and make it my own.”
Chong launched U of Meg last year. The pandemic gave her free time to explore the idea, which came to her after she walked into a class and saw three people wearing the same navy U of T sweaters.
“I love it, but I think we can do something better,” she said. “I was like, ‘I think it would be cool if I could rework or tie-dye something just to make it a little cooler.’”
Chong shared U of Meg at a pop-up at the Duke of York in downtown Toronto last December. She also markets her pieces on social media. Her passion project then sparked into a rising business with more than 53,000 likes on TikTok and 4,500 followers on Instagram.
“My first drop was 20 tie-dye T-shirts, and I was expecting that to last me the entire month of June. I sold that out within 24 hours,” she said.
For Chong, sustainability has always been a top priority when designing pieces, particularly by incorporating reused materials into her pieces. U of Meg aims to bring that sense of school pride in an eco-friendly way.
“I’ve been thrifting since I was in Grade 8,” Chong said.
“I’m a huge believer in slow fashion and just buying for what you love rather [than] a trend. Also, in buying good quality, not only something that you like, but something that you’ll wear for many years.”
The clothing line’s fans buy that philosophy.
“U of Meg is different because her pieces are one of a kind type pieces. While supporting a fellow student, we also represent our university,” said Megan Cambruzzi, who bought one of the brand’s tie-dyed T-shirts last summer.
The business reflects an overall drive for more sustainable goods among gen Z consumers.
“Fast fashion makes thrifting so much more challenging because the garments are so cheaply made that they fall apart before they can go back into the thrift economy,” Mark Joseph O’Connell, a fashion professor at Seneca College’s school of fashion, said via email.
“A consumer desire for a sustainable fashion product is a very good thing. These trends have actually forced many changes in industry.”
As a young entrepreneur in the fashion field, Chong’s career in design is just getting started.
U of Meg has already grown to become more than Chong ever imagined and allowed her to experience new things and see her dream opportunities come to life.
“I think the best thing is meeting so many cool people. I’ve been able to connect with so many different students and people all around Ontario. I never thought I’d have such a strong community even though we’re all at home because of COVID,” she said.
“When COVID is over, I hope to do more pop-ups and collaborations. I just love meeting people so hopefully I can get to do that in person as well.”
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