Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business

Erwin Center students’ digital work a perfect fit with apparel brand


Clemson University students in the Erwin Center for Brand Communications partnered with Vapor Apparel, a leader in the sun-protection apparel industry, in the spring semester to support the new launch of the brand’s E-commerce platform for direct-to-consumer sales. 

Erwin Center students present their mid-term brand plans
Erwin Center students present their brand plans for Vapor Apparel during mid-terms.

The Erwin Center for Brand Communications students created innovative, digital marketing campaigns for the new Vapor Apparel brand to engage broader consumer audiences. This Brand Communications capstone course exposes students to a real brand project by collaborating with Vapor to increase its brand awareness and drive quality traffic to its new direct-to-consumer site.

For 15 years, Vapor Apparel, based in Hanahan, S.C., and led by Clemson alumni Jackson Burnett and Chris Bernat, has been supplying quality white-label and private-label performance apparel to distributors and brands such as Costa and Mossy Oak. More recently, Vapor has developed a considerable business selling sun-protection clothing directly to consumers on Amazon and other marketplaces, especially during the summer months. Vapor’s vision is to capitalize on their new brand and positive digital messaging to gain a broader adoption of their products by consumers.

Erwin Center Vapor Apparel students
Teams of Erwin Center students created digital marketing plans for Vapor Apparel

“The goal of this course is to enable students to build upon the structure of previous brand communications classes, and to effectively work to solve a real client challenge through the creation and pitch of a strategic campaign,” said Katie Hildebrand, executive director of the Erwin Center. “This is also a great chance for our alumni to partner with students through hands-on projects for recruiting purposes.”

Throughout the spring semester, students worked on a series of project challenges for Vapor Apparel to build a final portfolio of work that they pitched to the brand virtually. Presentations included audience research with key insights, social strategy, and initial creative campaign concepts for brand activation.

Hildebrand complimented the students’ efforts, including the challenges presented by the pandemic and the virtual environment in which they finished the semester.

“The students showed great resilience in adjusting to a very different structure of learning and making their presentations,” she said. “They didn’t miss a beat in making this hands-on brand project a valuable learning experience and helping Vapor Apparel enhance their brand awareness.” 

About The Erwin Center for Brand Communications

The Erwin Center for Brand Communications is a “teaching hospital” for future brand communications professionals. Learning by doing in disciplines ranging from advertising, marketing, research, strategy, media and analytics, prepares Erwin Center students to be market-ready professionals in a variety of communications fields.

Caroline Trembly is a 2020 College of Business graduating senior who majored in Marketing and minored in Brand Communications through the Erwin Center. 

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