Since his sophomore year at Clark University, Worcester native Kendrick Quek ’19 has been working full time toward a bachelor’s degree in management while simultaneously sewing up vintage clothing deals with celebrities. Grailed, an online platform for men’s fashion and street wear, has been Quek’s Holy Grail for finding and trading clothes with a community of creative people who are just as passionate about fashion as he is.
“It was the only website where I fully immersed myself into scrolling through everything before realizing I fell in love with it,” Quek says. “My role is very independent: I import and sell designer vintage items from past seasons, such as the likes of Jun Takahashi’s Undercover, Saint Laurent Paris, Takahiromiyashita the Soloist. The list goes on. I use my connections to import and export past-season archival designers’ pieces into the United States. Normally, I deal with runway pieces because of my personal attachment to a designer’s creation during a certain year.”
Quek has come a long way since first stepping into the fashion scene. In the beginning, curious about fashion designers, he sought to buy iconic fashion pieces to show off to the world. His passion soon became more than just a hobby. He successfully launched a website that soon proved him a good fit for the fashion scene, racking up sales of vintage pieces to famous rappers like Lil Yachty, Goldlink, and A$AP Ferg. His business has become a stable source of income as well as a platform for his self-expression and self-exploration.
And with every sale comes a story. On a visit to Los Angeles in summer 2017, Quek worked with a friend, who had just opened a vintage clothing shop, HorrorVacuo.
“I dropped a couple pieces to get sold and went to the BET Experience concert,” Quek recalls. “Turns out, Lil Yachty and his manager bought one of the Number (N)ine shoes. And the scene rapper Gold Link came through and bought a couple of my pieces. It’s a moment to remember.”
Last summer, Quek returned to Los Angeles, and quickly became immersed in the music and fashion scene. He worked as a creative director and storefront marketer for HorrorVacuo and helped a stylist pick out clothing for top male models Neels Visser and Markel Williams; sold to Crush, a Korean R&B singer-songwriter; and was called up on stage with Yung Bans, a rising rapper from Atlanta.
Quek credits his adviser — Deanna Foster, visiting professor of accounting — for helping him obtain both academic and professional success. In his work, he can practice many of the skills he learned in the classroom, Quek points out.
“My professors taught me how to present my items, like I would in a storefront, but on a virtual platform,” he says. “It made me realize that my shop is very personal to me. So when I sell clothes, I sell a part of me.”
Although he’s still a college student, Quek keeps a business plan in his back pocket. Besides his retail experience, he also has gained experience through an internship at Unum, a Worcester insurance company.
After graduation, he hopes to introduce original designs that are unique to the market.
“What I really want to do,” he says, “is to have an impact. It seems like the fashion community has become less original, and most people only follow trends instead of creating them. I want to cause some riots within the community, hopefully by creating my own brand and expanding it.”