Grizz Garments clothing closet offers stylish workwear

The Grizz Garments clothing closet is tucked into the basement of the Oakland Center, neighboring the Golden Grizzlies Food Pantry. Although the closet is small in size, its impact on Oakland University’s student body is significant.

Dr. Rebecca Jones, a faculty member at OU, founded Grizz Garments after recognizing a widespread need for professional clothing on campus. Jones began accepting clothing donations at her office in Wilson Hall and distributed the garments to students for free. 

In December 2021, Raenece Johnson, a guest faculty member and current student at OU, took over the management of the Grizz Garments closet. The clothing service was combined with the Golden Grizzlies Food Pantry to ensure ease of access for individuals in need.

As inflation rose during the winter months of 2022, student usage of the closet increased by 15 times. Whilst Grizz Garments was serving more individuals than ever before, Johnson struggled to meet the rising demand.

“During this past school year, many students utilized the clothing closet,” Johnson said. “We did not expect such a large increase in traffic within such a short period of time.”

 In the past, the closet received little attention, as its main form of marketing was through word of mouth. However, due to a clear increase in the need for professional attire among students, Johnson has made efforts to better promote Grizz Garments. 

This summer, Johnson has partnered with the Oakland University Alumni group in leading a kick-off campaign. In doing so, she hopes to build community awareness about the university’s clothing closet resource.

Johnson’s kick-off campaign also doubles as a fundraising initiative. Through university advancement, she hopes to raise $2,000 to purchase additional supplies for Grizz Garments.

“We are in desperate need of more space and clothing racks,” Johnson said. “These funds would allow us to prepare for a busy fall semester.”

Another way individuals can support Grizz Garments is by making clothing donations. These gently-used garments will allow the closet to increase its impact on the OU community.

“Students can set up an appointment to donate their items on the Grizz Garments website. We simply ask that the clothing is clean and that donors provide a hanger with each garment,” Johnson said. “If I cannot accept the donation, I’ll tell you where you can take it instead.”

Shoppers may also refer to the Grizz Garments website to set up a shopping appointment. The shopping experience is completely private, as Johnson believes the most important factor in the process is to respect the dignity of the students who utilize the closet.

Moving forward, Johnson has simple, yet meaningful goals for the future of Grizz Garments. She plans to coordinate with on-campus career fairs to ensure the availability of clothing to students in need.

Most importantly, Johnson hopes to promote Grizz Garments as a free resource for all. By doing so, countless OU students will be benefited as they complete their academic goals and move forward to pursue professional careers.