Brooks Brothers Selling College Gear

The venerable Brooks Brothers is getting into the college apparel business, selling sweaters and polos for Boston College; the U.S. Naval Academy, Auburn, Cornell, Harvard, New York, Ohio State, Princeton, Stanford, and Vanderbilt Universities and the Universities of Alabama, Georgia, Notre Dame and Virginia.

The venerable Brooks Brothers is getting into the college apparel business:

Preppies (of the male variety) can now buy their blazers and their college polo shirts in one shopping trip. Brooks Brothers has announced that, for the first time in its nearly 200-year history, it will sell college apparel, Bloomberg reported. Clothing will be available only from 15 colleges, and this won’t be the place to buy college logo boxers. Only sweaters, dress and polo shirts and ties will be sold. “The key for us is re-establishing our connection with what we call the college community — students, faculty and alumni,” Karl Haller, vice president of strategy and business development for Brooks Brothers told Bloomberg. “We have a pretty well-educated customer and there’s a built-in opportunity with alumni who are already our customer base.” The 15 colleges: Boston College; the U.S. Naval Academy, Auburn, Cornell, Harvard, New York, Ohio State, Princeton, Stanford, and Vanderbilt Universities and the Universities of Alabama, Georgia, Notre Dame and Virginia.

As an Alabama grad who’s a fan of Brooks Brothers polos and sweaters, I’m part of the target demo. But the selection of schools is interesting.

Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, and Vandy are all SEC schools but that the eight other schools in the conference aren’t included. Florida, which has easily the largest enrollment in the conference, is excluded while Vandy, easily the smallest, is included. All of the SEC schools have rabid, wealthy alumni networks who would buy clothing. Even more oddly, Ivies Harvard, Princeton, and Cornell are included but Yale and Dartmouth are excluded (along with Brown, Columbia, and UPenn). And how can you have Navy but not Army? Or Ohio State and not Michigan?

Presumably, IMG Worldwide, who is Brooks Brothers’ partner in the enterprise, doesn’t have a deal with every big school. But the omissions are glaring.

FILED UNDER: Education, Quick Takes, Sports
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Dr. Goldfoot says:

    I believe many colleges have negotiated exclusivity rights with the companies that license their apparel products. In the early part of the 2000’s there was a big push for this, but it seems to be losing it’s appeal now.

  2. James Joyner says:

    @Dr. Goldfoot: Could be. I gather IMG represents some 75% of the big time college sports programs, but some of the schools may be in conflicting arrangements.

  3. A voice from another precinct says:

    There may also be some sort of exclusivity issue in the marketing. Sadly, Brooks Brothers markets their clothes on the conspicuous consumption side of the aisle, so some amount of exclusivity is important. Marketing to the largest school in the SEC, for example, may not carry the cachet BB and its partner are looking for.