Courtesy of Olivia Cleary

From the drafting table to the design studio, architect-turned-designer Olivia Cleary is weaving a new narrative in luxury fashion.

In a market as competitive as luxury goods, it can be challenging to stand out. Established companies rely on tradition and reputation to sell products, and without a long track record, gaining clients’ trust can be difficult. Despite these challenges, Olivia Cleary stands out with her label, The Clearly Collective. TCC has carved itself a niche with upscale home goods and scarf collections which have garnered a reputation for their unique take on branded merchandise. The most recent scarf release features hallmarks of Yale’s campus, such as Phelps Gate, the Yale Bowl, Payne Whitney Gymnasium, Sterling Memorial Library and Harkness Tower, in blue silk twill.

“As a student studying design and the arts, I think it would be incredible to see an artist’s designs sold at the bookstore,” wrote Johann Ortiz Castillo ’26 to the News. “It would be nice to have more options than just the branded Yale merch we currently have at the bookstore.” 

Cleary launched TCC in 2022, two years after graduating from the University of Virginia where she studied architecture and entrepreneurship. Now, she has positioned her brand as a purveyor of luxury products that tell stories through their design, often inspired by notable architecture and landmarks. The company offers private orders and retail scarves online. 

Cleary’s design motto is simple, “luxury is something that money can’t buy.” This philosophy is reflected in how each Clearly Collective item tells a story, intending to resonate with its owner and transform high-quality products into something uniquely meaningful.

“What is a luxury to someone who can buy anything in the world? You must transcend physicality; it’s literally the only way to create luxury,” Cleary said. “Some brands do that through experience … What I’m trying to do is marry the marketing of a brand with meaning. And the meaning that that experience delivers makes a high-end product.”

Her design process begins with crafting a narrative. When working with corporate partners — such as Cartier, McLaren San Francisco and the Olympics — this involves discussions about brand values and company history. When working on location-centered projects, this involves engaging with members of the communities involved, ensuring the authenticity of the representation.

One of Cleary’s most notable collaborations has been with McLaren San Francisco, which originally commissioned Cleary to design pocket squares. This led to a unique project with Monterey Car Week organizers, where Cleary worked with a car wrapper to adorn a McLaren with one of her prints.

The finished product depicts the Laguna Seca racetrack, paying homage to McLaren’s history and California’s car culture in a playful way.

“The types of brands that are attracted to my type of designs are the ones that are luxury and creative,” she said. “That’s who I want to work with …  If that ends up being a tech company, let’s redefine what tech merch looks like. Let’s do it. I feel like every company that comes to me is a new creative challenge of how we could translate their ideas, and if they’re down to make something beautiful from what they have, I’m down to take it on.” 

The company continues to explore new avenues for expansion, with plans to shift into physical retail locations, diversify its product range and further solidify its position in the luxury sector. Recently, Cleary chose to leave a full-time position she had in architecture which she pursued while beginning TCC to focus on the business full-time.

Cleary aims to move her products into brick-and-mortar stores in college towns and plans to expand product offerings into non-intrusive home goods such as porcelain trays, card decks and books.

“I really liked that scarf and think we need more cool Yale merch like that!” wrote Benjamin Pla ’26. “I like it when brands like Clearly Collective and Crew Dog do Yale merch we don’t see at the bookstore.” 

The Clearly Collective’s growth trajectory indicates a positive reception from the market and corporate partners. Her brand’s Instagram, @clearlycollective, has been the primary way through which she has been put in contact with clients.

Cleary shares videos detailing her design process and her story, starting a conversation between her and her audience.

“Instead of using Instagram to sell a product, what I’ve learned is that you never sell a product or service directly … Instead of ‘buy this cup,’ let’s talk about the process of building this cup, and the cup is there if you want to buy it,” Cleary said. “I call it ‘parallel marketing’ … You market a story alongside it that has an emotion and is relatable. You can’t actually relate to a cup unless you give meaning to it. And that’s how I use Instagram to market my scarves and what I’m trying to build.” 

Her Instagram pages work as living portfolios. When they encounter her work, viewers can easily scroll to find past designs and collaborations. 

Cleary said she originally gained traction among corporate partners organically with reels of her solving hypothetical design problems such as “How I would make a scarf for a liquor company?” 

“I didn’t think this was going to turn into anything big at first,” Cleary said. “I knew that people enjoyed storytelling and every time I did that, there was a very great response … Now it’s a bit more intentional. I’ll talk about the different pillars of what my brand stands for, like luxury for example. What does that mean in the context of The Clearly Collective? How can we educate people?” 

As The Clearly Collective continues to connect with customers, at Yale and beyond, Olivia Cleary is not just participating in the market, she is aiming to shape its future.

Cody Skinner covers art exhibitions, performances, and fashion. Born in Atlanta, Georgia, he is a first-year in Franklin College majoring in computer science.