Donwan Harrell

If you want proof that graduates of the VCUarts Department of Fashion and Merchandising can fulfill their dreams, look no further than Donwan Harrell.

The self-acclaimed “worst sewer in his class,” Donwan and his partners run some of the most successful brands in the country — Akademiks, PRPS and aka Stash House. He’s developed different branches to cater to different audiences. His wildly popular PRPs jeans are based on the life of a mechanic — each striation, indentation, crease, scar and abrasion is based on what a mechanic would go through when assembling a car. Donwan’s creations are the best-selling jeans in stores like Bergdorf Goodman and Fred Segal.

His advice to fashion students? Learn how to use the computer. Learn Illustrator and Photoshop. Learn about fabrications and pay attention in math class. “If you have a dream or desire, keep working at it. You have to work hard. They’re not going to pop up and be there.”

Donwan is an avid reader of car magazines, owns 13 vintage cars (his favorites are those made by Chrysler/Plymouth/Dodge in 1962-1971), and when he’s not working, he’s watching American Idol with his kids.