Saving the World One T-shirt At A Time

Hiding behind prison-like bars and faded paint that’s covering graffiti on a rundown Downtown Los Angeles warehouse sits a rack of dozens of high-end fabric creations, including a top-selling shirt called the Wearever T.

Like the warehouse, the best parts of Project Social T are not always in the looks, but in action — 10 percent of the proceeds from their sales go to various charities.

Founded in 2011 by Mark Cholder, Project Social T is a fashion company that gives to organizations, including Kids Need More, Waymakers and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

“We choose basically one charity per quarter, and we not only donate to that charity on a monthly basis, but we also directly get involved with them in terms of helping with our events and providing resources for them,” said Tom Scrocer, the co-founder of Project Social T.

Olivia Colfin, the marketing manager for Project Social T, said Cholder wanted to use fashion as a helping hand.

“He has always been passionate about the community and wanted to make sure the company was able to give back,” Colfin said.

Every clothing item is tagged with an information box about the charity that is being helped with that specific collection.

“We like to share their story and educate other people so if people want to donate or help they are aware of what’s going on,” Creative Designer Claire Wheeldon said.

While the creative process for new designs is the same every season, what varies is which trends the company follows.

Every collection must be prepared two seasons in advance.
Not only does every season bring new styles, but also trending colors to match.

“Color is a huge thing,” said Mackenzie Downs, the assistant designer. “Looking ahead at color is really important, and in combination with the fabric we can set them together say ‘this texture will be really cool with this.’”

Downs said when starting the process of a new design, they set up meetings with fabric vendors and bring fabrics swatches.

Wheeldon also tries to keep the seasons in mind.

They take their inspiration from the everyday life, whether it be fashion shows, magazines or nature.

One of the challenges that they have faced is having to work with different vendors like the fabric dye house and think of new designs.

“Coming up with new ideas, to do 12 lines is big. I mean our team is amazing but it’s a lot,” Wheeldon said.

Wheeldon attributes their success to the loyalty of their customers that continue to purchase their items.

“It’s great designing something but seeing people from the outside that love it, or walking down the street and see someone in your top, there is nothing better than seeing returned customers and people that actually love your product,” Wheeldon said.

The company employs 50 people and all of its clothes are 100 percent done in America.

Pierce College History, Humanities and Sociology Department Chair James McKeever said this system may not be ideal, but it can be effective.

He also believes that companies need to figure out a way to balance their work and giving back to the community.

“It is trying to figure out how to do social justice within a capitalist framework,” McKeever said. “If companies saw profit in social justice, I think more companies would do it.”

Inside that framework, Project Social T tries to make its clothing as inclusive as possible so a wide variety people can enjoy both the beauty of it while also appreciating how it can help society.

“A T-shirt is a T-shirt until you give it life and our customers keep coming back,” Wheeldon said. “We want to give a certain personality that makes you different.”