by Walter Villa, Special to STU
This was a match made in heaven – literally.
St. Thomas University, a Catholic institution, and Fly Supply, a clothing line with religious messaging, have made a collaboration blessed by the angels.
On Friday afternoon – accented by a live DJ and tasty food and beverages — students and other guests ventured out to the on-campus Fernandez Family Center lobby to enjoy the launch of Fly Supply’s STU line. The sporty line, in an array of bright colors, features messages such as:
“GOD GOT MY BACK.”
“NEVER SOLD MY SOUL.”
“THE DEVIL IS JEALOUS OF ME.”
Professor Ashlee Rzyczycki, the director of STU’s fashion merchandising program, said it was in 2021 that she met the four founders of Fly Supply – Garrett Brown, Rick Maxwell, Kevin Pamphile, and Reginald Bourdeau, all of whom are from Miami.
Professor Rzyczycki quickly decided that working with this hip quartet of designers would be a huge win for St. Thomas University in general, and her students in particular.
“They have a great brand,” said Professor Rzyczycki, who was introduced to the Fly Supply guys by STU employee Brandon Vega. “I wanted to incorporate that brand into my classroom.”
In that initial meeting, Professor Rzyczycki said she had an “amazing” two-hour conversation with the Fly Supply guys.
“Their brand is super successful,” she said. “I knew this collaboration would really resonate with my students.”
Fly Supply has previously collaborated with Miami Heat legend Udonis Haslem, former football star Chad Ochocinco, and active quarterback Lamar Jackson, who has won both the Heisman Trophy and an NFL Most Valuable Player award.
All three of those athletes are from South Florida, and they have helped give Fly Supply extra local credibility for their line of hip streetwear.
It certainly resonates with Isabel Wainwright, who is a Fashion Merchandising major at STU.
Wainwright has already purchased some Fly Supply gear, including one with the “DEVIL IS JEALOUS OF ME” message.
“I liked the quality, and I liked that it is a polo,” Wainwright said. “I can wear it with jeans. It’s comfortable.
“The message really stood out to me. It’s very different. I’ve never seen anything like it before.”
Fly Supply, which started by making T-shirts out of a tiny Miami bedroom in 2011, has since grown immensely and is now available in more than 400 clothing stores and distribution channels.
The inventory has also expanded and now includes jackets, hats, warmup pants, underwear, shorts, and more. The label is promoted and sold across the U.S. and as far away as Europe and the Middle East.
Brown, Maxwell, Pamphile, and Bourdeau, who also share a podcast to promote their brand, made it to Friday’s launch party at STU, and they seemed to revel in seeing their line displayed in the Fernandez Family Center gift shop.
“It feels amazing to collaborate with a big institution like St. Thomas University,” Maxwell said. “It’s big for us to connect with college students and people who want to have a career in fashion.”
Bourdeau called the collaboration with STU a perfect marriage.
“We sat down and came up with some of the things we’ve done in the past, and we did some research on (STU), and we meshed the two perfect worlds together.
“It turned into what you see now.”
Professor Rzyczycki summed it up best – and with great alliteration — when she said of the Fly Supply guys:
“They are the epitome of what I want my students to be – humble, hard-working, and hungry.”
You can add one more “H” word to describe the STU-Fly Supply collaboration: