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'Trying to create something better': Milwaukee-based clothing line thriving despite COVID-19 pandemic

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Posted at 9:48 AM, Aug 31, 2021

A Milwaukee-based clothing brand is thriving despite the pandemic.

It is the brainchild of a young man who grew up in the city and is trying to create positive change.

Oliver Prime’s vision goes beyond fashion. In an unassuming loft downtown, he showed us his new line of clothes.

His brand is called “Among the Prime.” It generated more than a quarter of a million dollars in sales over the past year.

“I call it Among the Prime because I want everyone to feel their best,” Prime said. “Find their greatest state in life and stay there.”

Prime fell in love with design and architecture at Bradley Tech High School. He went on to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. His path to the fashion industry was anything but typical.

“I started selling t-shirts while I was in college, and I literally walked into my advisor's office one day and told him I wasn’t coming back,” Prime said. “I told him I was going to start selling t-shirts out of this duffel bag. It all started there.”

Soon, through word of mouth, local musicians and artists started asking him to make their gear.

He moved to New York City for a few years to grow his business.

“Creating so many people's things, non-stop, got me to the point of wondering what I was doing for me anymore,” Prime said.

So, he got back to what he loved.

“I set up shop in Milwaukee and started designing my own things again,” he said. “My new collection is inspired by my original love of architecture. I love the work of Santiago Calatrava. Growing up, always passing the Milwaukee Art Museum by Calatrava, I wondered how can I build something like that?”

That question influences every stitch of his clothing line.

“It was important for me to do this here in Milwaukee,” Prime said. “Because we don’t have that. It means a lot to be able to do something creative out of this city and make it work.”

Prime wants to show other young people in our city, it is possible to pursue your dream right here. He hopes to be a good example, and source of support, like his grandparents were for him.

“They're the ones who pushed me the most and believed in me the most,” Prime said. “Anytime I ran into any roadblocks, they were the ones who told me no to let it get me down. They instilled in me that I can do anything.”

The work goes beyond fashion. Prime partnered with local artist WebsterX to create "Black is Beautiful.” Amid racial tensions and nationwide protesting against injustice last summer, they organized a city-wide bike ride where thousands of people of all different ages and backgrounds came together to take a breath.

“It's not easy here,” Prime admits. “I think black and brown people get profiled a lot, and I think that's where “Black is Beautiful” came in. Honestly, we were frustrated and wanted to turn all the negative that was going on, into a positive. ‘Among the Prime’ is that portal where anything is possible. In life and fashion, I’m trying to create something better and uplift people.”

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