In August 2018, IU senior Charles “Chaz” Zayed launched a clothing line with Fordham University senior Emmit Flynn. At that time, Zayed and Flynn were sophomores with strong beliefs and hopes for their brand, which they named Awful Cloth, to grow and become successful.
Today, Awful Cloth has grown to 40,000 followers on social media platforms with celebrities and athletes wearing the clothing, more than 10,000 sales and shipping to 70 countries around the world, Zayed said.
“We could have never really anticipated any of this, or what it was like to see like, famous people with our clothes,” Flynn said. “We didn't know what that was going to be like and in a way we didn't expect it, but I would say that from the very beginning Chaz and I always really believed that this is going to be huge.”
Awful Cloth is a clothing and lifestyle brand that sells comfy and stylish clothes such as sweatshirts, T-shirts, sweatpants, trucker hats and more, Zayed said. As of now, the store is online only.
Awful Cloth represents a mindset that ties into the brand’s name, Flynn said. While the word “awful” often means bad, Flynn said it could also mean full of awe. The idea behind the name of the brand acknowledges the good and the bad of life and choosing to see the silver linings.
“To wear Awful is to spread the Awful message, to defy negativity by promoting positivity, no matter how bad things seem,” the Awful Cloth website says. “Together, let’s make the world a more Awful place.”
Zayed said a lot of their recent success can be attributed to their marketing strategy. In early 2020, Awful Cloth reached out to TikTok influencers to help promote its product and build its own TikTok account.
“All the help from the influencers and stuff was very fortunate and they really believe in us and they really believe in the message,” Zayed said. “So we really do pride ourselves on not actually paying for that kind of marketing but having people just wear it naturally.”
Influencers like Charli D'amelio, Addison Rae, Bryce Hall and James Charles have worn Awful Cloth clothing in some of their TikTok videos. Flynn said they have had other celebrities wear the brand such as singer Jason Derulo and NBA player Andre Drummond.
“It’s obviously inspiring for us moving forward seeing that kind of recognition and seeing that people like to support our brand and get behind our brand,” Flynn said.
Since Zayed goes to school in Indiana and Flynn goes to school in New York, Zayed said not being able to collaborate face-to-face has been one of the biggest challenges with running the business. However, they said they still find time to talk to each other every day.
Time management was a struggle in the beginning, but Zayed said he and Flynn have improved on that in the past two years. They get up around 9 a.m. every day to do Awful Cloth work before any school work. They created a good schedule that sets deadlines each week and each month to keep up with business, Zayed said.
With both graduating soon, they said they are excited to work on Awful Cloth full time. Their plan for after graduation is to run Awful Cloth from Brooklyn, New York, in an office they rented and named the “Awe-ffice,” Flynn said.
Zayed and Flynn want to continue releasing clothes and working with new people, Zayed said. They want to continue to grow, and spread the brand’s mindset of choosing to see the positives in life, he said.
“We've always had that mindset and we've always had high expectations for ourselves,” Flynn said. “If you have that mindset you could reach the goals and aspirations and reach the places you want to reach, but if you don't, then you're gonna stay where you are.”