Vincent Onuegbu (BA 2018) Co-Founder of Young Goat: a clothing brand with purpose

Founded by a group of University of Bristol graduates, Young Goat is a clothing and lifestyle brand that’s driven by its values. Since launching in 2019, Young Goat has amassed a loyal fan base (pleasingly referred to as the Herd) and has appeared in publications including GQ and Vanity Fair. As the brand goes from strength to strength, they’re using their platform to raise money for mental health charities in Bristol and beyond.

Throughout Black History Month, Young Goat will be raising money in memory of their friend Olisa Odukwe, who very sadly passed away earlier this year. The Young Goat team will be donating all profits made through sales of a special edition t-shirt to Black Minds Matter, a charity which connects Black individuals and families with free mental health services.

We spoke to one of Young Goat’s founding members, Partnerships Lead Vincent Onuegbu (BA 2018), to hear more about what the brand stands for.

How was Young Goat created, and what’s the significance behind the name?
All of us at Young Goat met while playing for the University’s football club, and after I graduated I’d often come back to visit the boys who were still studying for their degrees. One morning we were just messing around and playing with the idea of having a design on an item. We’d been calling each other GOAT, which stands for Greatest of All Time, for years. It’s often used in the sporting world to describe people who are considered to be the best ever in their sport, but we used the term whenever we wanted to compliment each other.

We realised that calling each other the GOAT was a really big confidence boost. We thought, why don’t we turn that into a message that people can wear? The ‘young’ element worked as the perfect addition. At first it was just a fun idea that we wanted to try out. Then we made some samples and our friends really liked them, so it snowballed from there!

Young Goat’s Black Minds Matter charity t-shirt can be bought online 

Throughout Black History Month you’re raising money for Black Minds Matter through sales of a special t-shirt. Could you tell me more about their work? 
Black Minds Matter was formed around the same time as the death of George Floyd, and it grew very quickly in the aftermath. They had identified that there weren’t specific and nuanced mental health services available for Black people – and this was at a time when these services were more vital than ever. We noticed the great work they were doing early doors, and we’ve been supporting them ever since. At the beginning of this year we decided to create our Black Minds Matter charity t-shirt, which is the first specialised design we’ve made. We thought it would be a great way to raise money and awareness throughout Black History Month for a cause that we’re so passionate about.

This campaign is particularly close to your heart, as you’re raising money in memory of your friend and Bristol student Olisa Odukwe. Could you tell me a bit more about him?
It was incredibly sad to lose a friend and a colleague in Olisa Odukwe this year. Oli was a really kind and gentle person who was very smart. He was doing a difficult degree – one that I couldn’t dream of doing – and he was already playing second team football in his first year. Everybody loved him. He was close to the boys in our group, so it was tough for us and of course for his friends and family. Oli knew about our plans for this campaign and was really passionate about it, so we’re determined to make sure it does well. We added the purple heart to the design of the t-shirt in his memory. Oli will be sorely missed, and we want to try and make as much success of what we’re doing for him.

Young Goat previously raised money for Mental Health Awareness week by running 2000 km in a week. What was that experience like? 
In this campaign we asked our followers to help us to cover 2000 km to raise money for our three partner charities: Black Minds Matter, Second Step and Off the Record Bristol. One of the nicest things about Young Goat is that we managed to engage internationally quite early on, so there were people all over the planet putting in kilometres for these UK-based charities. It was amazing to see how many people committed their time and energy to support the cause. That sense of community is really important to us. Anybody who buys something or interacts with us regularly becomes part of the Herd; it’s great to have everybody involved like that.

Who would be your dream person to add to the Herd?
That’s such a hard question to answer because I’ve got a long list. There’s Dave, the rapper; Mbappé and definitely Emma Raducanu. There are so many people that we’d like to see in the Herd. Optimistically speaking I’d call it a matter of time but we’ll see!

How do you repurpose clothing which can’t be sold?
Over time, we’ve committed a lot of energy, thought and investment into trying to make sure we’re becoming more and more sustainable. We’ve changed some of the materials in our items for example and adapted the way we do deliveries. We’ve also run campaigns in the past where we’ve repurposed elements of items that couldn’t be sold and combined them to make new pieces. That was really cool from a design perspective because merging items meant we could make things that we don’t normally sell – like a crop top. As creatives, it’s nice to be able to make something different while raising awareness for something that’s really important.

Where in Bristol did you make your happiest memories?
On the football pitch. It’s got to be! We definitely talk about the University of Bristol’s football club a lot, but that’s because we had our best experiences there. When you’ve played football your whole life, it’s just great to be able to do that to quite a good standard with all of your friends. Even today I messaged the UBAFC Instagram saying ‘go well’ to the boys because BUCS football starts again soon. What I’m trying to say is, it stays with you: the club and the people who were there. It’s not just the football. The football brought us together but the community that you become part of is amazing.

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