Lee ’23 Launches CURRENT

Raymond Lee ’23 recently launched his own fashion line, CURRENT, which he has been developing since the summer of last year. Lee held a workshop this Wednesday, where he dove deeper into fashion and business and shared his passion with the Lawrenceville community.

Raymond Lee ’23 recently launched his own fashion line, CURRENT, which he has been developing since the summer of last year. Lee held a workshop this Wednesday, where he dove deeper into fashion and business and shared his passion with the Lawrenceville community.

According to Lee, CURRENT is a nonprofit fashion business that aims to raise funds and awareness for global issues and catastrophes. “The main goal I want to accomplish [is] probably...to make the most social change as possible while exploring my creative identity,” said Lee. Additionally, he hopes to “assemble a community” of Lawrentians who “want to create social change” through art and awareness, as he feels that “fashion is not extremely developed at Lawrenceville.”

From a young age, Lee “was always really interested in art,” and thus, he connected his love for fashion with his “love for social entrepreneurship.” As someone who “really enjoy[s] interdisciplinary learning,” Lee wanted to apply his expertise as an artist with the leadership skills he gained at the Brown University Leadership Institute, which culminated into a “personal project.”

When Lee first started developing CURRENT, he did “a lot of research into the fashion industry and starting [a] business.” An important part of this research for Lee involved brainstorming a “grand philosophy” which revolves around the fundamental principles that underlie a business. “I found that all brands that have longevity have a great grand philosophy, so I started at that,” he said.

As for the design aspect of starting a fashion line, drawing and creating his designs “came naturally” to Lee due to his experience with art and fashion. “I would take my drawings on paper and give them to my friend, who specializes in iPad drawing; it was basically just a translation from paper to digital,” Lee mentioned on his design process in creating the brand. “I decided all the colors, set the color schemes, and she sort of brought it to life.”

However, despite Lee’s passion for art and design, “Passion is not the only thing that goes into a business.” He also had to undertake “bump[ier]” tasks in starting a business, such as reaching out to manufacturers. “[Manufacturers] want to maximize profit as much as possible, so why would they print something for a very, very small business when they can print stuff for bigger businesses? That is something I had trouble with,” commented Lee on one of the struggles he faced in securing a manufacturer. Despite facing these hurdles, Lee continued “going on Alibaba,” a Chinese e-commerce company, and “reaching out to people [who] produced plain t-shirts,” eventually settling on a manufacturer. “A lot of the time, it involved sacrifice and trial and error.”

Another roadblock Lee had to jump over in his startup process was marketing. “It’s just so hard to gain traction being a small business,” he said.

After CURRENT’s launch, Lee feels that he has been able to “raise enough money to make an impact” through “selling the clothes” from his first collection. Inspired by the global pandemic, the clothing he has released so far all feature “Covid-19 designs,” such as “virtual learning tracksuit[s].”

With the profits from this collection, Lee plans to donate to a charity called “Save the Children,” which has a Covid-19 relief fund. In the future, he also has plans to launch a project related to International Women’s Day and to “develop the fashion community” at Lawrenceville through sharing his story.

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