How a small U.S. college logo became a $61million fashion empire… that has nothing to do with the academic institution it represents
It seems unlikely but a small American college logo has become a fashion sensation in Europe, Japan and The Middle East.
Franklin & Marshall College, located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, is a small liberal arts college that, like any academic institution in the U.S., sells its logo-emblazoned casualwear at the student bookstore.
But when two Italian designers came across a discarded sweater in a London thrift shop, they were so taken by the design of the logo, they started a fashion label based entirely on the name.
Style statement: An Italian label has taken the logo from American college Franklin & Marshall and turned it into a fashion sensation
Neither Giuseppe Albarelli nor Andrea Pensiero say they had any idea of the provenance of the logo when they started their company a decade ago. But the idea was clearly a successful one – their sales last year were in the region of $61million.
Speaking to Today.com from Verona, Mr Albarelli explained: “It was only after we did a little research that we found out it was a college.
“About a year after we started the company the college contactedus. At first they were disappointed that we were using their name, but when they got to know us better they were happy for our business to carry on.”
Guess the difference: An original sweater from the Franklin & Marshall College online bookstore (left) and the pricier designer version
The director of athletic communications for the school, corroborated what was a more likely justification for allowing the brand to continuing selling its merchandise.
Mickey Blymier admitted: “It certainly can’t hurt to have our name out there, and it’s great that their clothing promotes our school.”
Franklin & Marshall College will not only hope to benefit from what is essentially free PR, but has also been promised a donation of $130,000 from the fashion company as a contribution to the school’s scholarship fund.
Students of the school will no doubt be amused to know that their Champion-made sweaters cost less than half the $200 re-imaginations soldon the Franklin & Marshall website.
When one such senior saw a man in Rome wearing a sweater, she told Today.com: “My mom got so excited… She ranover to speak with him and couldn’t understand why he didn’t speak English.
“It’s definitely interesting and exciting to meet people from so far away who have heard of our small school…”
American Ivy League logos have long been popular among style-conscious Europeans.
The real deal: Franklin & Marshall College where the logo originated, is a small liberal arts school in Pennsylvania
Georgetown sweaters were a hit for a while and the preppy look has long been a favourite with fans of Abercrombie & Fitch.
But Franklin & Marshall College, in the heart of Amish territory, Pennsylvania is a long way from the fashion boutiques of Athens, Milan, Tokyo and Paris.
Barry Bosley, the college”s associate vice president for administration, questioned the repercussions of such exposure last year.
“Does it actually draw students to us Do they come because of the clothes” he asked. “That would be impossible to tell. But it does put the name out there internationally.”