Donwan Harrell at VCU

The founder of PRPS institutes a new denim curriculum

Donwan Harrell is a name well-known worldwide for two main reasons: he is one of the former top 10 designers at Nike and the founder and creative director of PRPS, the New York-based luxury fresh denim brand that he founded in 2002. In brief, he is “the” American man of denim sector.
After attending the prestigious Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond, Virginia, and becoming the king of fashion in the U.S., he decided to come back at VCU. Why? And here there is the news we want to tell you today: he implemented and instituted a new denim manufacturing and washing curriculum within the current fashion design program at the university he attended. The reason? Easy to explain and understand: during their studies, many fashion design industry students don’t know what denim industry really is, what there is behind a business of billion dollars – in the United States only. All the programs are about theory, making and draping. «With my own personal success and experience over the last 20 years in the denim industry, I’ve always wanted to embark on a path which would also allowed me to communicate to new, young, up and coming designers the skills I’ve developed within the trade» he told us. «After continuing conversations with my Alumna at VCU for the last 2 years, finally I received the green light to teach an intensive course on the subject of denim manufacturing. I felt it is a unique opportunity for students to delve into the intricacies of how to develop, design, and manufacture denim in the market place».
And it’s no coincidence that the first program of its kind in the U.S. turned out to be a success. Let’s see how it works:
During the first session (May 1st– 22nd) Mr. Harrell taught denim history and fabrications; in the second sessions (June 1st – 5th) the students spent a week in Donwan’s office to experience what really means working in a denim company and doing research in the market. In the last session (June 8th – 12th) they travelled to Europe where they visited a denim factory, knew everything about machinery, methods, applications – all industrial machines were available for their disposal to experiment and create.
An amazing experience Mr. Harrell decided to repeat: «This will be an ongoing 4 week curriculum at the University every summer starting every first week of May», he told us.
Are you interested? Join VCU by writing at

Julie Parfaits

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