Junior Henry Pew started printing tee-shirts in middle school. He cut plastic from folders to create a stencil and spray-painted his design onto the shirt. Pew did this long enough to print a milk carton and a gnome design, which he then sold, and temporarily gave up the hobby.
The hobby never died though, and Pew, a visual and media arts major, now runs a clothing brand, Brand N/A, with his friends Sam Dorow and Ben Kupferman, all from New Jersey. Pew said Brand N/A’s name—meaning not applicable or not available—shows how the brand represents vagueness and offers no set meaning.
“The idea evolved several times before I became committed to it,” Pew said. “I made my first tee-shirt that said N/A on it, but I wasn’t even sure if I was going to continue with the brand until I understood the vagueness I was looking for in a brand [and] why I was interested in that.”
Senior Chloë Kerwin, a friend of Pew’s, said Brand N/A is not a brand, but a concept.
“Pew creates things that will get people thinking rather than just buying something,” Kerwin said. “Products with meaning behind them, rather than just a product.”
Brand N/A sells T-shirts, pants, jackets, totes, stickers, and other forms of clothing on their website and Instagram. Pew uniquely designs and prints every article of clothing with various designs such as mountains, the Brand N/A logo, or small abstract drawings. Brand N/A’s inventory rotates through different articles of clothing on their website, and the team completes custom prints for any customer’s choice of clothing.
Brand N/A charges their customers based on the time it takes to print and what graphics the customer wants.
Kerwin said the prices are reasonable for streetwear, and she is happy to support Pew.
“Knowing that my money is going to [Pew] makes it easier for me to spend that kind of money,” Kerwin said.
Pew said the process of creating Brand N/A’s clothing starts with him buying clothes from thrift stores. Next, Pew uses his personal screen printer in his North End apartment to transfer custom graphics onto the clothes. Then, he markets the finished product on Brand N/A’s website and Instagram.
Junior Kerry Ferrell, Pew’s friend, said Brand N/A is different from other clothing brands because of Pew’s dedication to the brand and its vague identity.
“He is not looking for what people are expecting,” Ferrell said. “He is just designing straight out of his mind.”
Pew said he also allows customers to provide their own clothing for him to print on and charges them at a lower rate.
“[The price] depends on the piece of clothing you bring to me,” Pew said. “If you want a jacket, I’d charge like $50 to $70.”
Pew said he plans to give out promo codes on Brand N/A’s website to appeal to new customers.
Using his own screen printer helps Pew keep product prices low. He also invests money into Brand N/A from his job at George Howell Coffee in Downtown Crossing.
So far, Pew said he sold merchandise to almost 40 customers and built up a regular customer base comprised of around 25 people.
Ferrell said Brand N/A is not made for profit, but for Pew to do what he loves.
Ferrell said he first heard of Brand N/A in fall 2017 through Pew’s roommate, junior Max Kolomatsky(CQ). Ferrell said he bought a sweatshirt, a tote, and a shirt because the designs on the clothing intrigued him.
“He has this free-flowing designing process,” Ferrell said. “The way he designs and the way his mind works leads to some really cool output.”
Brand N/A will release their first official clothing line called LUNISOLAR later this month. Pew said Brand N/A was previously discovering its identity before LUNISOLAR.
“Behind every clothing drop, there is going to be a reason why we’re doing the drop, and that reason will be explained in the clothing, “ Pew said.
The concept behind LUNISOLAR is to acknowledge the theory of a 13th month, “Virtuary,” Pew said. He said he discovered this idea after watching a Youtube video with mathematician Scott Flansburg explaining how the 12-month calendar year doesn’t make sense.
“[Brand N/A] is advocating for [the] change of the calendar year to having 13 months instead of 12 and having every month be 28 days,” Pew said. “Essentially, we’re taking all the 29s, 30s, and 31s of the 12 months and putting them into a new month.”
Pew said LUNISOLAR will consist mostly of shirts starting at $25-$35 and hoodies at $60. He said he plans to give out promotional codes.
Ferrell said the concept behind LUNISOLAR is interesting and funny.
“I’m definitely going to get a shirt or something,” Ferrell said.