By Alex Gatewood
University of Portland senior Tadeu Velloso is the kind of guy you would expect to be successful. Not only is the Brazilian-born organizational communication major involved in on-campus extracurricular activities such as the Civil Rights immersion program but also a handful of internships around the Northeast Portland area emphasizing social justice, racial equality, and community safety.
Beyond being successful and involved, Tadeu is also fair.
Through the many internships and international experiences in which Tadeu has been involved he has identified social justice, and the necessity of support for social justice organizations, as an area of interest in his professional and personal lives. This interest is what led him to Stripes Clothing.
Stripes Clothing is a streetwear brand that “has one foot in jail and one foot in freedom” (StripesClothing). Combining both the flair of urban design and work ethic of imprisoned and enterprising individuals, Stripes is surely a company that socially conscious consumers will come to respect and seek.
I interviewed Tadeu to gain more insight into Stripes, the company’s relationship with social media, and the company’s potential relationship with the Bluff/Portland:
How did you first hear of Stripes Clothing?
Tadeu: A lot of my advocacy work revolves around the rights of the formerly incarcerated. I had this idea of creating a clothing line to give those that are incarcerated some sense of worth, an outlet to be creative, and have experience to build a career after their incarceration. I wanted to see if anyone was doing something similar and I found Stripes. I sent the guys an email and they asked me to send a resume and six months later it has been an amazing partnership.
What ‘is’ Stripes, where is it based, and what is its mission?
Tadeu: Stripes is a streetwear clothing company that produces clothing in prisons in order to provide the incarcerated with a sense of worth and skills to better their lives. The company is based in the Netherlands currently, but our clothes are being sold in Japan, Belgium, Poland, and France to name a few countries.
What is your role within Stripes? How do you relate with the mission of the company?
Tadeu: My official title is “Sales Agent” and my role is basically to get Stripes into the U.S. clothing market right now. I have been talking to Pendleton Penitentiary in Pendleton, Oregon, to get the clothes produced in the U.S. I have also been in communication with a lot of stores throughout the U.S., but focusing mainly on Portland as our starting point.
How do you see Portland as a market for Stripes Clothing?
Tadeu: Portland is the perfect place to introduce Stripes to the U.S. market for several reasons. First, Portland has a reputation for being trendy and fashion-forward. Also, people in Portland tend to be very socially aware and willing to advocate for social injustices. However, Oregon also has a very problematic criminal “justice” system and there has been a lot of trouble caused by Gov. Kitzhaber and his attempts to stop reform efforts. There has also been a lot of national conversation about the injustices in the incarceration system and the “war on drugs” that has completely, pardon my French, f#$#$d up impoverished communities and forced working class men and women (typically of color) into civil death.
Has it been difficult managing work/Stripes and school as a college senior?
Tadeu: It has been tough, yes, but this cause is dear to my heart and is where my passion lies, so it’s not hard finding time to work on Stripes stuff.
Has the language barrier between you and your colleagues been difficult in the organizing process?
Tadeu: Not at all. Dave and Roy speak Dutch but they speak English very well. I love when we have our weekly Skype meetings because I think it reignites my passion, and their passion. We also get to share ideas and stories about social issues. We also have different ideas for how to do business because we are coming from different backgrounds. The only hard part is the time difference but it’s not too bad.
How have you used social media to promote the brand?
Tadeu: The company has a Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr. I have administrative access to the Facebook, but try not to use it because I feel like that area is Dave and Roy’s. On my personal Instagram I will post some pictures of products or me wearing a shirt to see what my friends think. I try and be mindful of the fact that in the U.S. people our age were raised to fear the incarcerated, to see them as subhuman, so I try to discuss it in a way that is not confrontational but informational in a way.
In what ways does the company incorporate social media into the marketing and advertising strategy? Which channels (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc.)?
Tadeu: I use Tumblr as a source to organize and publicize my aesthetic and academic inspirations. Thegypsymc.tumblr.com is where I put the things I see as cool and then beyondthebighouse.tumblr.com is where I put my thoughts on race/racism and mass incarceration.”
For more information on Stripes Clothing and their products visit StripesClothing.com