Why do we make shirts?



By: Jimmy Patel-Nguyen

We make shirts as a way to remind ourselves of our culture. It’s not the only way, but it’s our way.

We believe clothing can connect communities, because what we wear says something about who we are: our favorite sports team, the college we went to, a band we love, the place we’re from, etc. For REFUGENE, we want to connect with Vietnamese Americans. Our goal is to start conversations about where our families have been, where we are, and where we’re going. Over time, our hope is that our clothing builds a strong community.

And look, we’re Americans living in America, which inherently means we're not surrounded by our ethnic heritage. This is another reason we make clothes. Now we can wear a shirt out the door to surround ourselves with both our cultures.

Lastly, we make shirts because we wear one every day. So every day, we have a chance to remind ourselves — even if just for a second — about our culture and our ambition. Our parents worked hard to give us better opportunities, and we should remember their sacrifice and perseverance, daily. And with that, we hope our designs honor our ancestry.