Freshman Michael Long designs and sells alternative class sweatshirts


The Class of 2021 executive board’s class sweatshirt (left) and freshman Michael Long’s (right).

The WHS Class of 2021’s executive board recently completed its sales period for class sweatshirts, but it was not alone in this endeavor. In unprecedented fashion, freshman Michael Long designed and ordered his own brand of class sweatshirts, which he made available for purchase during a simultaneous time frame as the board’s sales period.

As of the closing bell on Tuesday, Dec. 5, the board successfully sold 124 units and reaped $1,910 in profit through their CustomInk purchasing link, with about $400 procured from donations. Yet, freshman Vice President Victoria Andreasen, Treasurer Aiden Zhang and Secretary Meredith Prince believe Long’s venture hindered their ability to attract even more customers.

It’s really not the best thing for our class.

— Meredith Prince

“It’s really not the best thing for our class,” Prince said.

An interview with freshman President Jay Provost was avoided due to his close friendship with Long.

The officers recognize Long’s right to initiate the sale of his alternative sweatshirts, but they maintain he could have postponed his sales period so that it wouldn’t coincide with the board’s.

“I mean, he could have sold them at any other time, but the fact that he’s doing it now is disrupting our sales,” Prince said. “This isn’t a sale just for us, it’s for the whole grade, for us to have fun events. The fact that he’s doing this [is] kind of impeding on that a little bit.”

Long gathers that his initiative did not affect the board’s sales because of an inherent lack of consumer interest in the board’s selected design, which was created by freshman Elizabeth Zhong. Long’s design is modeled after the popular “Supreme” sweatshirts that are distributed by the New York City company Supreme.

The people that are buying [my sweatshirts] told me that they wouldn’t buy the eboard’s anyway because they didn’t like the design.

— Michael Long

“The people that are buying [my sweatshirts] told me that they wouldn’t buy the eboard’s anyway because they didn’t like the design,” Long said. “They told me that they didn’t like their design and wouldn’t have bought it even if I didn’t sell mine.”

According to Long, all profits he garners from sweatshirt sales will help fund his ~$1,700 personal cost for his church’s community service trip to Guatemala. Long’s mother suggested the idea.

“In Guatemala, we will build new houses for those who need them, paint schools to make them look better and more enjoyable for the children and also just play with children and interact with the community,” Long said.

When the board decided to undertake the class sweatshirt campaign, they first held a design contest among the entire Class of 2021 student body; after all designs were submitted, the board selected their top three and then allowed the class to ultimately decide the final design. Long did not crack the initial top three vote.

“His design just isn’t original,” Prince said. “That’s why we chose different designs to put up as our final three – because his wasn’t original and we thought it wouldn’t appeal to everyone.”

Long received support from his friends when he determined whether or not to use his design on a real product.

“I made my design for the sweatshirt contest, but I didn’t win,” Long said. “A lot of my friends said they would buy it anyway, so I decided to just make them and sell it to them.”

Once the board learned of Long’s plans, multiple people approached Long in an attempt to convince him to abandon his project.

But [my texts] didn’t stop him.

— Meredith Prince

“I texted him many times,” Prince said. “I was like, ‘Why are you doing this, you’re going to affect our sales.’ But it didn’t stop him. From the second his design didn’t win, I think he knew he wanted to sell [sweatshirts] by himself.”

Zhong, the winner of the design contest, believes Long’s enterprise curbed the board’s ability to fundraise.

“[Long is] not using his sweatshirt sales to benefit the class,” Zhong said.

Zhong said that even if she knew Long was going to generate a potential controversy, she would not have given up her design to prevent it.

“I know a lot of people would probably not want some meme design on their sweatshirt,” Zhong said. “[They] would probably want an actual design for our class sweatshirts.”

The officers do not regret holding the contest, which ostensibly lit the fire under Long.

“No, it [made the sweatshirts] more original to our class,” Andreasen said. “I don’t regret it.”

The board retailed their sweatshirts for $35 per piece, and according to Zhang, produced $10-15 margins. Long sold his for $30 and profited around $10 per sale.

Long does not view his class sweatshirts as a competitor to the board’s; rather, he sees them as an option that a certain consumer base desired.

Credit: Olivia Waldron
Pictured above is freshman James Waldron wearing his sweatshirt designed by Long.

“If you think about it, they’re pretty much buying [a] sweatshirt [for] themselves,” Long said. “They could just be going to the mall and buying [my] sweatshirt.”

Long attracted 21 patrons comprised of 18 freshmen and three sophomores. One of them, freshman Sashwat Das, purchased Long’s sweatshirt but not the board’s.

“I like [Long’s] better than [the eboard’s],” Das said. “They looked cooler. They were more hypebeast and more clout.”

Das maintains that Long is not siphoning potential sales from the board. However, Das believes he would have probably bought one of the board’s sweatshirts if Long had not made his available for purchase.

Ultimately, the officers are not worried a similar situation would arise in the future.

“Some things like events [aren’t] something you can really replicate unless you pay large fees to rent places out,” Zhang said. “As for material things, I don’t really think we’re going to do that many more of those. But it still is just a small concern, and this is probably an unprecedented situation.”

“Although we are losing some money, [which is] not good, we’re not losing a ton of money,” Prince said. “It’s not a huge problem.”

Editors’ note: The original article used “clutch” instead of “clout” in Das’ quote. The article has since been corrected.