By: Kelsey R. Bradley
Marist College President Dennis J. Murray let out a big chuckle as he unveiled River + Stone’s latest item – a shirt with his very own face on it, dressed as one of the founding fathers.
The River + Stone students developed the shirt to honor the President during his last year in office and to thank him for being such a vital part of the brand’s start up. Many do not realize that Marist’s own President Murray was the first to introduce the idea of a unique Marist brand to the fashion department, leading to the now flourishing collegiate clothing brand, River + Stone.
In fact, it was Dr. Murray’s experience viewing fashion students’ capstone presentations that sparked the initial inspiration. “I was blown away from the talent,” stated Murray. “When I saw the quality of their work and presentation I thought: Marist is at the point where we can take it to the next level.”
Murray also took notice during various trips abroad that Europeans often sport apparel with the logo of Franklin and Marshall College, a liberal arts school in Pennsylvania. The use of this logo was actually stolen from the college and used by a European clothing brand. “Still, it caught my attention,” Murray stated. “I saw this as a way to get the name of the college and brand out there.”
It was then Murray took the concept to the fashion department. From there, River + Stone was born. “I threw the idea out to [Fashion Department Director] Radley [Cramer] and the other faculty,” stated Murray, who also granted the department funds to seed the project. “They ran with it.”
Both Murray and his wife Marilyn, who loves fashion, are proud of the River + Stone products. In fact, the two often give them as gifts. “The products are more than a shirt from the bookstore with our name stamped on it,” stated Murray, who particularly enjoys the original collegiate Marist symbols and archived pictures the brand has included on many products.
Murray is most impressed by the students’ standout capabilities to not only develop, but also market an original brand. “Our [Marist’s] mission states that we seek to create unique education experiences,” stated Murray. “River + Stone is an affirmation of how sophisticated and unique the college is.”
As to where River + Stone will go in the future, Murray dreams of seeing retail stores around the world. At the least, he is confident that the brand is capable of creating an online store. “Seeing as we are also so strong in computer science, an online site would expand the market and challenge the business in different ways.”
With River + Stone sales marked highest at MPorium thus far, the brand has only just created a foundation for a prosperous future. “It could go anywhere,” stated Murray. “We are just seeing the tip of the iceberg as to how successful this can be.”