Abercrombie & Tulane

September 15, 2004

Mark Miester
Phone: (504) 865-5714

As students head back to school this fall, they'll be wearing some of the hottest names in fashion: Marc Jacobs, Donna Karan, Paul Tulane. Paul Tulane? "Tulane is more of a brand than just a logo on a T-shirt," says bookstore assistant manager Larry Jones, who oversees the store's Tulane logo products. "It's not just a Tulane sweatshirt, it's Tulane apparel."

And Tulane apparel is growing in popularity. While previous generations had to settle for a limited number of products and a monochromatic range of styles and colors, today's students have literally thousands of Tulane logo products to choose from. The bookstore sells everything from hats to hoodies to fuzzy slippers, all in the latest fashion colors and all emblazoned with the Tulane name or logo.

Last spring, a committee was established to help manage the university's expanding roster of licensed merchandise. The Trademark and Licensing Committee oversees the licensing process and handles issues related to the use of Tulane logos and trademarks.

"Basically, what the committee does is look at the big picture of what's going on in licensing and trademarking," says Vince Granito, associate athletic director and the university's licensing director. "Anything you can think of to be a licensed good you're seeing in the marketplace today. The university is just trying to stay organized and in front of the issues."

According to Granito, licensing has traditionally been a fairly straightforward process: Vendors work with the university's licensing company to manufacture merchandise bearing logos from the university's approved list of marks. In recent years, however, manufacturers have become more aggressive in marketing to college students.

Taking a cue from hip retailers like Abercrombie & Fitch and The Gap, manufacturers are producing stylish apparel that features the word Tulane in different fonts and with new graphics and colors. The result is Tulane shorts, tops and sweatshirts in red, yellow, mint green, lavender and, most prominently, pink.

"The big color for girls has been pink, so we're responsive to that market," Jones says. "We don't want them to be out of style and yet we still want them to wear Tulane, so we give them the option where they can buy Tulane apparel in fashion colors."

Granito acknowledges that traditionalists might bristle at the sight of Tulane apparel in any colors other than olive green and sky blue, but he feels the benefits defi- nitely outweigh the drawbacks.

"What we're doing is no different than what you are seeing at the national level," he says. "Fashion colors and different fonts is something that has been growing. It's where the industry is going and for us to fight it would be to stick our heads in the sand. We feel that the exposure of the name of the university is more important."

Jones looks at it more from a merchandising perspective. "We go with wherever the market is going," he says. "We try to stay with fashion colors and graphics that they'll find interesting because students don't always want the basic Tulane art. Students want to support Tulane, but they also want to be hip, they want to be now."

While the committee is all for students being hip and now, Granito says it does draw the line with some products. "Thong underwear is popular, but we're not going to allow the Tulane mark to be put on thongs," Granito says. "Philosophically, we don't feel that's an appropriate use."

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