Philly Faces: Student Creates Streetwear

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Gavin Karp | Photo provided

You can find Gavin Karp’s line of streetwear on underground hip-hop artists in South Florida and on Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery.

And the 22-year-old designer, who graduates from Drexel University in June, is just getting started.

Karp has always had an interest in fashion. He started making T-shirts at 19 years old after seeing graphic T-shirts at the mall and thinking to himself, “I can do this.”


That summer, he saved money from an internship at Ralph Lauren to create T-shirts with just his initials on them. Since then, he has created several other designs and expanded his brand, which are available at Delsette, seasonally at Boyds Philadelphia and at gavinkarp.com.

Q: How would you describe your style?

A: Very simple, futuristic. … I’m not a big guy on color. Ever since I was a little kid, I always wore darker colors. … I was just always a fan of modern things, black and white colors, gray palettes, creams. I do have some color, like with the sneakers that I wear, but my style, I would say, is very modern/simple, with a darkish city palette. I like baggy. I don’t like tight-fitting T-shirts. I’m a big sneaker guy, so I’m always wearing sneakers. I do like formal clothes on the right occasion, but usually you’ll just catch me in a big T-shirt, with some black pants on and some Nike sneakers.  

Q: Would you say your line embodies your sense of style?

A: One of the people I look up to a lot in the industry is Ronnie Fieg, who owns the brand Kith, and he says a quote that always sticks with me, that he only makes things that he would see in his own closet, and I do the same. Every product I make, the first question I ask myself is, “Do I see this in my closet? Would I wear it?” And if I don’t, I won’t make it. Basically, everything I design is something I would wear first.

Q: What’s the story with Alshon Jeffery?

A: I saw him around the city a few times, just around random places. I remember I walked into a clothing store, and I saw him for the first time. We talked a little bit. He’s a super nice guy. Then I saw him again, just walking around the city. I guess he knew my face. Luckily, I had class one day, and I always carry T-shirts in my bag because you never know when an opportunity [might arise], especially in a city like Philly with so many awesome people in it. I was just walking down the street, and he came out of this building. … I first said “Hi” to him, and then I pitched it to him after that. He liked it and took [a T-shirt], but I didn’t know if he was going to wear it or not, and then a few weeks later, I saw him on his Instagram story … and he was wearing it.

Q: What are your post-graduation plans?

A: I want to pick my exact fabric, make cool jackets, pants, maybe even sneakers one day — an actual full, high, semi-luxury line. It’s hard to do that when you’re young, especially when I’m financing everything myself right now. I’m pretty sure I’m just going to, on the side, create a line, but at the same time, try to get a job in the industry and learn as much as possible and absorb as much knowledge as I can … and hopefully in the next few years, I can have a solid collection that can be released. 

[email protected]; 215-832-0729

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