The leading three-letter name in fashion around Erie? No, it’s not the Gap.
Grant Kruszewski, a junior accounting major at Gannon University, is excited to announce that the latest collection from his Erie-inspired clothing line, KRU, is up for sale and ready to make its way to the local community.
Kruszewski said that he’s had the idea since he was in high school, but didn’t think it was practical back then without any means of production. That all changed when he met the staff over at DuceTwo, a local company that specializes in screen printing and embroidering custom apparel.
“They’ve helped me out so much and without them, most of this wouldn’t be possible,” Kruszewski said.
With the support from DuceTwo, Kruszewski had KRU up and running by February of his sophomore year at Gannon. There were some initial hurdles in getting the company off the ground, like consumers not taking the brand seriously, but Kruszewski, now a junior, learned to overcome those challenges and is ready to take over Erie with a year of experience under his belt.
“The two main inspirations behind KRU are the combination of my love for the city of Erie and the culture surrounding it,” Kruszewski said. “I always wanted to call the company KRU, but I also wanted it to have a positive message, hence the creation of the slogan, ‘Keep Reaching Up.’”
KRU really began to catch on over the past two semesters on college campuses around Erie. Nick Samsel, a junior supply chain management and entrepreneurship major at Gannon, said that he’s excited to see where KRU goes in the near future.
“I believe in KRU because the apparel is designed for and inspired by Erie,” Samsel said. “When you wear the apparel, you feel as if you are a part of a movement that aims to represent the city in a new light.”
KRU’s latest collection, Season 3, was released Sunday. Kruszewski said that the spring collection is the most diverse yet, featuring a variety of clothing and accessories like new headwear options and even backpacks.
By raising the bar with Season 3, Kruszewski hopes to see his brand continue to grow and reach more people than ever before. Photo shoots for Season 3 were much larger-scaled than for Season 2, with over 2,200 photos being taken over a span of three shoots with six different models. A social media advertising campaign is also on the way, which will include contests and free giveaways.
Other than consulting with a few of his close friends before making any major decisions, Kruszewski runs the company entirely on his own. The success KRU has seen over the past year hasn’t gotten to his head just yet, though.
Kruszewski said that he wants people to know that his goal is not for KRU to be like Nike or Adidas. He wants it to be completely original and for the primary purpose of creating a culture in Erie that people can be proud of.
“It’s not all about profit for me; it’s actually not about profits at all,” Kruszewski said “Through KRU, I want to bring positive publicity to the city of Erie and turn it into a place where people look for almost a cultural or artistic influence.
“Not only is there my brand, KRU, there’s also people making music like [senior communications and theater major] Eli Kerr, Hawaii Slim, and the artists from the brand REDS11, Kenny Base, Flamingo and Aaron Rennel, [and] with the music they’re making right now, they’re currently on a wave that can’t be matched.”
With KRU promoting more than just fashionable streetwear, Kruszewski hopes it could mean big things for the city in the future.
“I firmly believe that if all of us stick together and truly try to create something special with Erie in the front of our minds, we can put this place on the map.”