UO students’ clothing brands and the optimistic future of fashion.


In recent years, streetwear has seen a trend of diversifying and individualizing fashion that has encouraged individuals to make, thrift and upcycling clothing. 

Though all UO product design students are taking similar steps in their careers, Eliana Kertzner, Danny Infante-Pardo and Kundai Kapurura have vastly different clothing companies, aesthetics and inspirations. Their major has fostered a community where students flourish and find their niche in the world.

ELKE | Eliana Kertzner


Eliana Kertzner is a third-year product design major who owns and operates the brand ELKE. Many students at the University of Oregon are putting their passion for fashion to use by creating their own clothing brands. (Molly McPherson/Emerald)

When she was young, Kertzner fell in love with Belle from Beauty and the Beast, more specifically Belle’s dress. The gown is flowy yet gathered and structured, which intrigued her nine-year-old self. She pleaded with her mom to take her to the fabric store to create her dream princess dress. Through trial and error, over the years Kertzner became able to recreate it and more.

“I was kind of obsessed with Disney princess dresses and was totally convinced I could make one,” Kertzner said.

ELKE is a commission-based clothing business in which Kertzner brings new techniques and inspirations and applies them to older silhouettes — the shape of the outfit and the way it lays on one’s body — and mediums such as quilting, corsetry, women’s medieval fashion and, of course, Disney princess dresses.

The COVID-19 pandemic allowed ELKE to really flourish. Though a difficult time for most people around the world, for Kertzner, it was time for individual growth. She spent her time alone sewing, and sewing and sewing. Kertzner now finds herself at a point where she can create almost anything.

“Part of creating my brand was COVID and having not much to do,” Kertzner said. “Part of it is  the human need to create, but another part of it for me is the agency to create my own clothing and feeling like if I see something that I like, I can make it.”

ELKE focuses on the creation of entirely new pieces of clothing. Kertzner’s favorite project was creating outfits for Big Wild’s 2023 Coachella performances this year while being a third-year product design student. Kertzner was most proud of the blue, silk outfit with circular mirror and gold accents throughout the outfit for Big Wild’s first Coachella showing. One day, his stylist randomly reached out to Kertzner for the commission.

“His stylist reached out to me and was like, ‘We wanna make a custom piece for Coachella,’ and I totally exploded,” Kertzner said.

In five years, Kertzner “optimistically” sees herself traveling nationally working on projects with commissioners around the country for months at a time. She wants to live at a fast pace while taking her time with each project alongside customers to make their visions come to light. For now, ELKE’s commissions are open on Kertnzer’s website, but can also be found on Instagram at @elkedesigned with the website in the biography.

“It would be so cool to get to live somewhere for a period of time,” Kertzner said. “If I were able to live in New York City for five to six months and be like, ‘Hi, I’m in New York City if you wanna commission me and pay my bills, commission me.'”

NPTN! | Danny Infante-Pardo


Danny Infante-Pardo, a third-year product design major, recently created a backpack called The HaloPack. The HaloPack is made of cotton canvas and jacquard woven fabric. Danny Infante-Pardo owns and operates the brand NPTN!. (Molly McPherson/Emerald)

Since high school, Infante-Pardo showed interest in product design. After expressing interest, his high school teacher helped him find the UO product design major, which would soon allow him to flourish. During the same time, Infante-Pardo had also taken up fashion with heavy influence by early 2000s media, which was the basis for the clothing brand he started last year: NPTN!

“What inspires my style is definitely a lot of things I was surrounded by when I was younger,” Infante-Pardo said, “a lot of nostalgic and early 2000s stuff.”

Infante-Pardo is a third-year product design major at the UO but also has other passions in media creation. He continues to find ways to incorporate his many passions into bringing to life his brand with graphic design and photography becoming as important as the clothing to NPTN!

“I wanted to find a way to create a whole world with my clothing and brand,” Infante-Pardo said, “I wanted to make sure that every single aspect was fully realized, which is why I spend a lot of time planning photoshoots and creating graphics.”

In terms of clothing, NPTN! focuses on embodying nostalgia through streetwear and currently has printed hoodies, sweaters, hats, etc. Infante-Pardo describes his brand as “playful, calculated and immersive.”.

One of Infante-Pardo’s greatest influences is his own childhood, specifically healing his inner child. This inspired his favorite project so far: Inner-Child Collection. Comprising a turtleneck, hoodie, mini-skirt and hat, this project was an amalgamation of everything he has learned from school and himself.

“First time I fully made the clothes from scratch,” Infante-Pardo said about the collection. “It was the most I’ve learned in terms of designing clothes.”

In 5 years, NPTN! aspires to having a physical location and being self-sufficient, but the creator, Infante-Pardo, wishes to continue to play a role in the entire process. He wishes for the brand to gain traction and make it big, but still wants to keep it feeling personal to him and his customers. In the meantime follow  @_nptn_ on Instagram for pop-up shop information and new projects.

“I came into college like, ‘I wanna be as big as Nike,’ but I just wanna get to the point where I can fully support myself with my brand,” Infante-Pardo said, “but still know what’s being produced and have connections to everything.”

VANA DENIM | Kundai Kapurura


Kundai Kapurura is a third-year product design major who owns and operates the brand VANA DENIM. Many students at the University of Oregon are putting their passion for fashion to use by creating their own clothing brands. (Molly McPherson/Emerald)

Vana Denim is a clothing brand focused on upcycling denim apparel, mostly in terms of re-imaging existing jeans. Vana is a brand started by UO’s third-year product design major, Kapurura. Her passion for fashion and product design didn’t start in college, though.

In high school, Kapurura honed an eye and likeness for fashion. Through the product design major, Kapurura was capable of intertwining many of her great passions: fashion, design and sustainability. She started Philanthropy Phabrics in September 2020 with peer Sophia Cobb over their shared passions and decided to create change.

“In quarantine is when I really started to take it seriously,” Kapurura said. “During that time it was the Black Lives Matter movement, the Oregon wildfires, the pandemic, so much civil unrest and I saw this as an opportunity to contribute to those issues and mitigate them through funding and donating.”

Though an important part of her life, Philanthropy Phabrics became less of a priority towards the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. It changed Kapurura’s perspective on fashion and helped her decide to focus on her own brand. She created Vana Denim as an “original and raw” perspective on fashion.

“My parents are from Zimbabwe and so our heritage tongue is Shona, which is a dialect of Swahili, and in the language “vana” means “children,” Kapurura said. “In that culture children are expected to take care of their elders, parents and families and that reflects what the brand is doing: taking care of our people, planet and animals.”

Kapurura sources jeans from local thrift sites for the desired fit and size for the project at hand. The creation process varies on the project whether it calls for painting, embroidery, distressing, etc, but the basis is similar in sourcing and focuses on upcycling and sustainability.

In five years, Kapurura sees Vana Denim being a point of influence for Black women in fashion design. Vana Denim business Instagram is soon to come, but in the meantime you can catch Vana projects and Kapurura’s other work at @ivanakundai.

“Everyone is doing something really cool and everyone has their own aesthetic, their own reasons why they are here and we all share together,” Kapurura said. “Being able to bake bread with these people is a blessing and a privilege.”

All three have built their brands on their own, but that wasn’t without each other’s support. NPTN!, ELKE and VANA Denim grew from the same batch but offer unique interpretations of today’s fashion.

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UO students’ clothing brands and the optimistic future of fashion.

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