Trio creates urban fashion line

By LauraNalin

Definir Clothing, an up-and-coming fashion line with a fresh, urban feel, is preparing to release its first big collection after three years of development. Envisioned by three best friends, the line is gaining support in Chicago’s fashion scene by self-promotion and tireless networking.

The line was started by two Columbia students, Nick Johnson, a sophomore television production student, and Jodi Williams, a sophomore fashion retail management major, along with Matt Thompson, a communications student in his fourth year at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The trio has worked since 2006 to develop the idea.

Williams said he first imagined the idea for the clothing line when he was studying at Northern Illinois University before transferring to Columbia.  Although the line didn’t work out at the time, he said his work inspired him to continue to follow his dreams.

Williams asked Thompson and Johnson to be a part of the project, and they came up with the idea for the line’s name and determined how they were going to bring their ideas to fruition.

“The original idea for the name was Definition,” Thompson said. “I just basically started looking through different words and things that we could say that would remind you of the word definition, and so I came up with Definir.”

The three friends saved up their money to pay for their first order of T-shirts and start-up costs. They also found investors, who endowed the company in the beginning. With their initial money, they were able to go forth with their plans.

Williams said the line was first launched in February and is moderately priced, with the items ranging anywhere from $10 to $30. The line offers clothing for both men and women, and the trio is working closely with their designer on their first collection, which will be released this spring. Williams said he thinks the collection is going to be their breakthrough moment into the fashion industry.

Definir has been featured in fashion shows throughout Chicago.  The most recent was at Tini Martini, a Logan Square lounge, on Nov. 14. Through the connections they made at Tini Martini, they will participate in more upcoming shows.

The line was recently booked for a show at Horseshoe Casino on Dec. 26 in Hammond, Ind., and the trio is also debating whether to book another fashion show on Dec.17 at Chicago’s Velvet Rope venue.

Johnson said through their shows he has made various connections which have substantially helped with the success of the line.

“I like to be in the scene,” Johnson said. “It’s a great experience to get out there and meet people in the same field that do the same thing and network with them. Now that we’re looking to expand, we need more individual connections so we can reach out to them. We all know a different network. Even though we’re best friends, we all know different people.”

The three are currently looking to feature their line in various boutiques throughout the city and are continuing to work toward their goal of reaching a larger audience.

“Right now, we’re about to redesign [the Web site] and put up the rest of the garments we have,” Williams said. “Our ‘look book’ is done, so now we’re trying to branch out to some stores, mainly boutiques. We were talking to Target, and they gave us a huge list of things we had to do, which we are nowhere near right now. The main thing we are focusing on right now is to supply 1,500-plus stores and provide annual sales reports. We need to be out for a long time before that can happen.”

All of them are optimistic about the future of the line, and Thompson said he hopes they turn it into something bigger than they ever expected.

“It’s basically been a huge growing experience for us,” Thompson said. “We started out with an idea, and then it kind of turned into this snowball effect, so we’ll see where we go from here. My biggest dream is to have it worldwide. Basically the whole idea is just to have as many people as I can be inspired by the work that we do and have as many people as possible wearing Definir and embrace it as a lifestyle, not just a clothing line.”

Both Williams and Johnson said they agree.

“At times, things are shaky because not everyone is on the same page, not everyone has the money or same input as other people, but it all comes together in the end,” Williams said.

Johnson said they have been business savvy from the start.

“We always wanted to step out of our comfort zones to do something different and this is a great opportunity to get our feet wet,” he said. “This is just beginning.”