116: FEST-ive Style Perspectives + Shopping Intel from a University Campus

For anyone building a brand today, one of the biggest questions you’re likely to face is: what do my customers really want? There are umpteen million ways to get at this with digital tools. And yes, there is valuable data to be gleaned from A/B testing your heart out, surveying customers and experimenting with different marketing tactics online.

But there’s a tried-and-true way to learn what customers think that’s often overlooked in our hectic world: sitting down in person and asking them. This week, we’re doing just that by heading to the University of Virginia campus, where journalist (and our fabulous spring intern) Melissa Angell interviews eight students about how and where they shop, what they care about when it comes to clothing, the brands that make them open their wallets and whether they care even one little bit about ethical and sustainable apparel choices.

Whether or not you’re aiming to reach college kids with your merch, these are not only the customers of today – they’re the big spenders of tomorrow. So let’s get to know them – think of it like your own personal, FEST-ive focus group courtesy of the Spirit of 608.

This week, we’re going back to school. Listen in for our visit to the University of Virginia campus.

What you’ll learn

Never underestimate the power of a simple, solid color t-shirt. Learn just how much the average college student will pay for a cotton t-shirt and why convenience, comfort and price are the biggest factors brands need to keep in mind when reaching the student population.

How you’ll be inspired

You might think there’s high pressure to look good and stay stylish in school, but our interviewees had all kinds of opinions. From the very functional and pragmatic views of fashion to more expressive and artistic motivations, you might be surprised at how different fashion looks through eight different pairs of eyes.

What you’ll tell your friends

You may think ethical, sustainable and tech-enabled apparel brands are gaining ground, but they’ve hardly hit the mainstream. According to these students, brands like Nike and J.Crew are still the go-to choices, while thrift stores are popular not so much for being havens of throwback style, but because they’re practical and cheaper than retail clothing stores.

Resource of the week

West Coast clothing company Ably Apparel, makers of eco-friendly shirts that repel liquids, odors, stains thanks to a seemingly magical substance called Filium.

And don’t forget the ever-present, eco-friendly fashion choice: thrift shops. These students talk about the best bargains they’ve had shopping at thrift shops.


Mentioned in this episode: 

Nike Jackets


Alton Lane

Vineyard Vines

Lilly Pulitzer


Forever 21


American Apparel

The Elephant Pants



Apple Watch



17th Street

American Eagle

Brooks Brothers

Ably Apparel

Franco Sarto

L.L. Bean





Project for Awesome

Casey Neistat

Zebra 350


Find more episodes featuring women at the forefront of FEST online at www.Spiritof608.com.

Music tracks courtesy here and here.




© Spirit of 608