Pocketful of Dreams | Adam Rapp BS'04
Avid traveler Adam Rapp had a run-in with a pickpocket while visiting Xi’an, China, in 2007. Following the incident, Rapp did what most engineers are trained to do: find a solution to the problem.
“People said to beware of pickpockets in Xi’an, but you never think it’ll happen to you,” says Rapp. “I didn’t carry money belts because they were inefficient and cumbersome. I looked down at my pants and realized there was something missing in the design.”
He eventually added that missing piece and more.
Rapp’s start-up, Clothing Arts, released its line of pickpocket-proof pants in 2010. P^Cubed Pants are designed to “put security back in the hands of the travelers,” says Rapp.
The pants’ pockets are equipped with all-around zippers; hidden pockets for money and valuables; DuPont Teflon fabric protector to repel oil, water, and stains; and cut-resistant cargo pockets. The pants are available through major U.S. travel catalogs, including Magellan’s, TravelSmith, and Orvis. After graduation, Rapp worked as an assistant trader for a hedge fund. In 2007, he traded in his desk job for a backpack.
“I found a love of both life on the road and the gear that makes it possible,” he says. “One thing led to another, and I thought, why not build the kind of clothes I wanted to travel in?”
Clothing Arts focused first on T-shirts, inspired by Rapp’s travels. The shirts are made of highquality, durable cotton, supporting the company’s principle of “making clothes that stand up to life on the road.”
Designing clothes is a bit of a surprise to even Rapp himself, who majored in engineering management systems.
“Most people who knew me then and know what I do now just don’t believe it,” he says with a laugh.
But the travel gear is what got him hooked. “I love backpacks, jackets, and shoes, and all that translated into looking at the details and at how they were made, and improving them,” he adds.
The inventor gene runs in the family. Rapp’s father, Joe, invented the Rapper, a plastic clapping hand that is used at sporting events, as a promotional tool, and in past years, by Engineering students at Commencement. Rapp has fond memories of helping his father in the factory. “That’s where my ability to sell comes from,” says Rapp.
To Rapp, the friendships he made at Columbia Engineering are as valuable as the education he received. In fact, an old college friend introduced him to the factory owner he uses in India to manufacture the pants.
Clothing Arts will soon debut a line of T-shirts inspired by Rapp’s visits to India, and a women’s line of P^Cubed pants are in the works.
Of making that fateful decision to leave corporate America for the life of an entrepreneur, Rapp says, “Starting my own business and the freedom that comes with that is refreshing. I watched my dad do it. He gave me the tools that make it possible to do what I do now. And, now he wears my pants all the time. I feel like it’s come full circle.”