Photo courtesy of Urban Prep Academies

Photo courtesy of Urban Prep Academies


Top of the World partners with Urban Prep Academies’ Signing Day for second year

There was a time in Chicago when the city faced a shocking statistic – only one in 40 of the African-American boys who entered the Chicago Public School District as a freshman was predicted to earn a college degree within a decade. Fighting to change this statistic, Tim King and other African-American business, civic and education leaders in Chicago founded a nonprofit organization called Urban Prep Academies in 2002. By 2006, the first of three charter schools was opened on Chicago’s south side, and by 2010, the academies saw 100 percent of their graduates admitted to four year colleges and universities around the country. Eight years later, Urban Prep Academies celebrated their ninth year of seeing 100 percent of their graduates admitted to four year institutions, roughly 200 students each year.

To announce this achievement Urban Prep hosts Signing Day, an annual ceremony that began in 2010 where students from all three charter locations line up on stage, stand before an audience of family, friends, educators and citizens of Chicago and proclaim the college or university they will attend after graduation.

“Signing Day was borne out of the idea that our young men should be celebrated for their academic achievements the same way four and five star athletes are when they decide they will go to college to play a sport,” said Troy Boyd, Jr., Senior Director, Institutional Advancement at Urban Prep Academies. “Black boys so often see other black men/boys only being celebrated because they are athletic or musically inclined. We wanted to be intentional about sending them the message that succeeding in school is even more important.”

In 2017, Top of the World, the leader in college licensed apparel and headwear, joined forces with Urban Prep to give students a hat of their respective future college or university to put on as they announced their future college plans. The idea for the partnership came after Renata Kukowski, Top of the World’s Vice President of Marketing & Licensing, came across an article online about Signing Day.

“At our core, Top of the World exists to give fans – be it students, alumni or sports fans – the chance to show their passion,” said Kukowski. “When we sell a college hat or shirt, we further support our university partners by generating royalty dollars that fund academic initiatives and the overall university mission. What we’ve started with Urban Prep allows us to see this come full circle, as many of the young men of Urban Prep have been granted scholarships to go to college, and by putting on that hat, they symbolically begin that new chapter of their lives. It’s amazing to see the small but hopefully meaningful way we can support them in that journey!”

Since 2017, Top of the World has collaborated with Urban Prep for each Signing Day, a partnership that Tim King, Founder and CEO at Urban Prep Academies, hopes will continue in the years ahead.

“Top of the World’s contribution to our annual Urban Prep College Signing Day the last two years has been tremendous,” said King. “The seniors are always so excited to don their new college hats at the event. Our organization is incredibly thankful to them and looks forward to partnering with them for years to come.”

  Top of the World leadership poses for a photo with country music singer Scotty McCreery at the 2018 IMGCL Seminar Party.

Top of the World leadership poses for a photo with country music singer Scotty McCreery at the 2018 IMGCL Seminar Party.


Top of the World Sponsors IMGCL Seminar

Top of the World attended its 10th IMG College Licensing Seminar May 8-9 in San Diego, California. IMGCL is the largest collegiate licensing agency, representing almost 200 of the nation’s top colleges, universities, bowl games, athletic conferences, the Heisman Trophy and the NCAA. Each year the agency hosts an educational seminar for its client base and select retailers and licensees.

“As a leading manufacturer of headwear and apparel in the collegiate licensed products industry, we were excited to have the opportunity to support and participate in the IMGCL Seminar 2018 as the top-level sponsor and as an attendee,” said Brian Delehoy, Senior Director of Licensing.

Renata Kukowski, Vice President of Licensing and Marketing, paneled a discussion on corporate social responsibility alongside PNG factory owner Harold Koh. PNG has been Top of World’s primary headwear factory partner for the last 18 years.

“We truly appreciate Liz Kennedy, IMGCL’s Vice President for Corporate Responsibility, inviting Top of the World to be a part of the supply chain and corporate social responsibility panel discussion,” said Kukowski. “Though CSR is an important and often discussed topic at industry events, this panel focused on interdependence and how best practices and partnerships across all levels of the supply chain can further advance CSR efforts. It was a privilege to have Harold fly all the way from South Korea to also speak with attendees to provide a perspective from the factory level, which many licensing directors never have the opportunity to hear.”

The seminar concludes each year with a party for all attendees, and this year Top of the World co-hosted the event for more than 300 guests. Country singer Scotty McCreery provided the entertainment while Top of the World hosted a custom hat station for the 300-plus attendees to design their own personalized TOW cap with felt letters.

“Other than the dance floor during Scott McCreery’s private concert, the Top of the World custom hat station was the place to be all night,” said Delehoy. “Countless industry partners expressed their excitement and gratitude, and the hats were proudly worn all around San Diego’s popular Gaslamp Quarter late into the evening and beyond.”


Declaration Days Launches April 1 - May 1

Spring is the season for students to declare which college they will call home in the years ahead, and Top of the World is here to help them spread the word – with a few extra incentives. This is the third year for the Declaration Days program, which will award three scholarships valued at $500, $1,000 and $5,000. In addition to scholarships, a class hat and T-shirt will be given to the school with the most declarations.

Ava Whitson took home the $5,000 scholarship in 2017 after declaring the University of Cincinnati.  

“Winning the scholarship was a huge weight off my shoulders,” said Whitson. “I didn’t have to worry about costs, and I was able to just enjoy my time here and focus on what I love.”

An estimated 100 colleges and universities and retailers such as Lids and Rally House are participating in Declaration Days 2018.

“We are really excited about Declaration Days 2018, where we have increased the number of schools and retailers participating,” said Segraves. “I believe every graduating senior should have an opportunity to share their amazing news for the fall, and this is a great platform for them to do just that, while also getting the opportunity for a $5,000 scholarship.”

For more information about Declaration Days 2018, visit April 1 – May 1 and follow @towcaps on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

 Jeff Frye, COO Vetta Brands, LLC

Jeff Frye Named Chief Operating Officer of Vetta Brands

Vetta, LLC, an expert and industry leader in licensed and wholesale blank apparel and headwear, has named Jeff Frye as Chief Operating Officer.

“We believe that Jeff is a perfect fit for Vetta and brings the skills required to take us to the next level,” said Glenn Silbert, Chief Executive Officer for Vetta. “Jeff believes in the value that we create for our brand partners—through our tremendously skilled team, organizational capabilities and licensing partnerships—as well as our vision to be the industry leader by bringing brands to life through innovative product and partnership solutions.”

Throughout his 25-year career, Jeff has extensive senior executive leadership experience with some of the top apparel industry retailers. He has held roles in all areas of product, operations and global supply chain—including manufacturing, product development, design, global sourcing, tech design, quality assurance, marketing, merchandising, operations, human resources, retail distribution, store operations and planning—with Cone Mills, Gap Inc., Lucky Brand and Guess Inc. Most recently, he served as President and COO of Hoorsenbuhs.

Jeff earned his bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Appalachian State University and a master’s degree in Textiles and Business from the Institute of Textile Technology.

“I am thrilled to be joining this amazingly successful company,” said Frye. “Our differential value is clear, and we have the best talent in the industry that will continue to build our capabilities and grow our company into the world-class brand management platform. Given the ever-changing apparel and headwear retail sector, Vetta is uniquely nimble with fashion, speed and flexibility expertise to capitalize on consumer trends that will drive significant growth for our brand partners.”

Glenn Silbert Named Chief Executive Officer of Vetta Brands

Vetta, LLC, a portfolio of companies with expertise in licensed and wholesale blank apparel and headwear, has named Glenn Silbert as Chief Executive Officer.

“We believe that Glenn is a wonderful fit for the company we are today and what we aspire to be,” said Faust Capobianco IV, Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors for Vetta. “Glenn believes in the tremendous people, organizational capabilities and license partnerships we possess, as well as our vision to be the leading brand manager and apparel partner for bringing brands to life.”

Silbert has extensive executive leadership experience as a brand and product leader with world-class companies. Throughout his 25-year career, Silbert has held roles in all areas of consumer products—from merchandising, sourcing, marketing, operations and strategic planning—with Gap, Macy’s, Foot Locker and Carter’s. Glenn has spent the last six years in various leadership roles at Under Armour, most recently as the Senior Vice President of Product and Global Brand Licensing. Silbert earned his bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Texas at Austin.

Collegiate Apparel Company Announces Scholarship

To celebrate the excitement of high school seniors transitioning to college, apparel company Top of the World is excited to launch their Declaration Days campaign for Spring 2017. They will award one lucky high school senior with a $5,000 scholarship to the university they plan to attend in the fall.

This is the second consecutive year Top of the World has sponsored a Declaration Days scholarship program. The goal of the program is to boost school pride for colleges and universities across the United States while supporting student reach for higher education.


Top of the World and J-America Climb Higher: Offer Industry a One-Stop Solution for Headwear and Apparel

NORMAN, Okla. and FOWLERVILLE, Mich., Jan. 16, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Top of the World, LLC, the leading supplier of licensed collegiate headwear in the United States, and J. America, Inc., an industry leading designer and distributor of licensed and blank apparel, announced today that they have signed a definitive merger agreement. The merger creates a single company Top of the World Holdings, LLC, that has been recapitalized by Blue Point Capital Partners. 


Ohio State Getting Nearly $100M In 10-Year Apparel Deal With J. America, Fanatics

Ohio State Univ. officials on Thursday said that the team of J. America Sportswear and Fanatics Inc. "won the bidding to produce OSU-licensed apparel and to sell it online and in campus retail outlets," according to Steve Wartenberg of the COLUMBUS DISPATCH. The new 10-year deal is "expected to give" the school $9.7M annually, up from the current $4.2M. University officials said that the arrangement "will provide higher-quality merchandise and streamline production of OSU goods." Revenue from apparel sales "will be used to fund scholarships and improve student and alumni services." OSU Senior VP & Special Assistant to the President Jeff Kaplan said that J. America and Fanatics were selected "because their combined bid provided the best revenue stream."