Styling the Block

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photo by Mia Hanekamp


by Mia Hanekamp and Jeff Cartwright

The University of Wisconsin-Madison: known for its prestigious academics, research, athletics… and that one holiday in the spring. Yes, the Mifflin Street Block Party. This is the one day in the spring when Wisconsin students put away their textbooks, shut down their laptops, and trade in their calculators for cups.

However, Mifflin has a few interesting aspects to it. Not only is it a day-long outdoor party, but it is a chance for design entrepreneurs to break into the clothing scene. All types of students are known to design custom gear for their campus organizations, sororities or fraternities, athletic teams, or just a few of their friends.

photo by Abbey Crane

Sophomore Abbey Crane has taken on such responsibility this year for her sorority. “It was important to have something bold and bright,” she says, “since we want to stand out as a group on Mifflin against the hundreds of other shirt ideas.”

Crane’s sorority coordinated neon baseball hats with a zipping pouch in the front, on which the sorority’s founding year is written. “The hats are what will set us apart because they are so original,” she says. “They keep items like keys, money, and IDs in the top, while still remaining fun and unique to our house.”

Sophomores Brad Harried, Jake Kream, Erik Friede, and Andy Zirzow had a fresh idea for their second year attending the block party. They customized their own gear by utilizing current events in the media.

“We were brainstorming, thinking of ideas that were previously not done in yearspast. It came to our minds that hats would be a good idea,” says Harried, “and we could take advantage of the popularity of Charlie Sheen.” The four guys printed trucker hats with the word “WINNING” on them, in reference to the Sheen events.

Marketing for the shirts has relied heavily on social media. For Harried, Kream, Friede and Zirzow, their shirts gained popularity on Facebook.

“The design that came together was simple and we reached out to fellow Badgers who would be interested in the hats by creating a Facebook event. Within a week of creating the event the ‘attending’ number skyrocketed towards 700.

Some students even use Mifflin to give back.

UW-Madison student, Erin Nedland, chose to incorporate donating to a good cause into her shirt production.

“We did these Mifflin t-shirts as a way to raise money for Bucky’s Angels,” she says, “which is a new student organization aimed at helping the families of critical care or hospitalized cancer patients through hands-on service. We decided to do a fundraiser, and thought of selling Mifflin t-shirts [in order to raise the money].”

These designs and more will cover the streets on Saturday. What are you going to wear? Let us know by commenting below.