If you’ve noticed a cluster of students moving around Knight Hall and Bauer Hall in similar garb, you’ve caught a glimpse of class spirit from the soon-to-graduate Shanghai EMBA class.
The 66 members of Shanghai EMBA 16 arrived in St. Louis this week for a final week of classes before today’s graduation ceremony. And their orange (for women) and blue (for men) cardigan sweaters turned more than a few heads—thanks to the inspiration of a few class members and the apparel company founded by a classmate.
“They wanted to be good-looking when they were together taking pictures. And they also wanted a souvenir of their time in the class,” said Linus Fan, founder and owner of Nena apparel company in Guangzhou, China. He put his designers to work, interviewing 10 members of the class for more information about what they wanted.
Then, he rushed the uniforms into production. Within 45 days of hatching the idea, the class had its official uniform—donated by Fan’s company.
“Mainly, we just focused on the sweaters,” he said. “They wanted to be able to wear this for a long time, even after graduating, and something that would be satisfactory for everyday wear—not too formal.”
Fan founded Nena nearly five years ago after a long career in the apparel business and a master’s degree in Manchester, England. After a number of years, he decided he needed a more broad understanding of all aspects of business, which led him to seek his MBA. The reputation of WashU’s EMBA program in partnership with Fudan University—along with its standing among global EMBA rankings—led him to join the Shanghai program.
Fan took a two-hour flight each month to and from Shanghai for his courses while running his company, which employs 215 people focused on apparel design and manufacturing, serving clients who want to market and sell their own lines of apparel in their stores.