If you walk up M Street towards Georgetown University, you might notice a girl sporting a shirt that reads “Accio.” Turn the corner, and you’ll find someone else wearing the slogan “Hufflepuffs Have More Fun.” Wait in line at Saxby’s outside the University’s front gates and you can spy handful of girls in “Lumos” tank tops. Feel like you missed the memo? They’re wearing Harry Tees, a line of Harry Potter inspired t-shirts designed and sold by Albert Eisenberg, a junior at Georgetown.
As with most great ideas, the concept for Harry Tees was conceived out of disappointment. After his internship possibilities fell through last summer, Albert was faced with a choice: wallow the hot months away going to the pool and selling lemonade, or create his own internship. Luckily for fans of his unique t-shirts, he chose the latter. Inspired by the culmination of the Harry Potter series, Albert set out to design the shirt that he had been trying to find online for months: a simple tee emblazoned with the words “Slytherins Have More Fun.”
An art minor with no experience in fashion, Albert spent the first weeks of his summer in the library, teaching himself Adobe Illustrator and tweaking his designs. Reflecting on the experience, Albert said, “You look at the shirt now and you think it looks complete, but nobody would think—and nor would I if I were looking at someone else’s shirt—of all the work that went into it, all the amounts of small changes I made to it.” Knowing that he wanted a high-quality product made in the USA, Albert chose to work with American Apparel to take his designs from computer screen to silk screen.
The finished product is nothing short of innovative. The shirts pay homage to the series that readers and movie audiences loved so dearly, but they are fashionable enough to wear with jeans and a blazer for lunch with friends. By incorporating whimsical elements from the text, like a sleeping lion curled around a large potions vial on the Gryffindor shirt, Albert created a line of shirts that are fun without being cheesy—the hardest line to tiptoe.
And the rest is history—buzz about the shirts spread through Georgetown’s campus and soon hordes of students were in line to get one. But Albert’s success hasn’t been limited to his peers. Harry Tees ships anywhere in the continental US, and Potter fans from around the country have been placing orders. “I get orders from people in Maryland, Florida, and Texas that I’ve never heard of, from towns I’ve never heard of.” Albert said, “I would love to be able to trace how they got the link to my website and decided they wanted to be my customer.”
So what’s Albert’s favorite of his designs? “I love Hufflepuff,” Albert weighed in. “I’m so attached to the badger. It’s such a strange animal but it’s so cute. The ‘Lumos’ tank has been our most popular, though.” As for what he wants to do in the future, Albert says, “I have no idea. I do want to continue to do things like this that occur to me…we all strive to do the things we’re passionate about and minimize the things that don’t push us. Whatever that means to me in the future is what I want to do.” Hopefully his next idea is just as chic as this one.