Something fishy seems to be going on at Harvard: The university is trying to be hip, possibly even chic. How else to explain Harvard’s cameo on this week’s episode of NYC Prep? And its new men’s fashion line, Harvard Yard? And by fashion line, we don’t mean maroon sweatshirts with crests on them. The university has inked a ten-year licensing deal with clothing manufacturer Wearwolf Group for a line of contemporary men’s apparel. It’s unclear if the line is part of the university’s attempt to stop bleeding money. Harvard Yard — a lawn we imagine makes a nice resting ground for Harvard students to repair glasses, wipe down their pocket protectors, and memorize an extra few digits of pi — inspired the spring collection. The line includes “short-sleeve plaid shirts, Liberty print wovens, seersucker shorts, regimental stripes, sporty knits, patterned jackets and fancy pants — all in a contemporary, tapered fit,” according to WWD.
The clothes won’t be very Harvard-y in the literal sense. “Harvard” only appears on the labels inside the garments, while the university’s signature crimson only appears in buttonholes, zipper pulls, and other trimmings. Prices range from $165 for pants to $495 for sport coats. The line’s creative director, John Fowler, told WWD that designers drew from photos of students lounging in Harvard Yard in the sixties. “It’s a style that has become current again and not just with the American consumer. We think Harvard Yard will have global appeal.” So the fashion of Harvard could, one day, have the same reach as Gucci or Prada or … the Gap.
But will Harvard students go for it? The line is mostly targeted to alums and “fans” of the university, which have no doubt multiplied exponentially since the school’s Bravo debut this week. But the line’s creators don’t offer any solutions to Harvard Yard’s inherent problem: Fashion and Harvard just don’t go together. Would you give a child an Oreo and a glass of Dr Pepper to dip it in? Probably not. That said, apparently a market exists in Massachusetts for the pink-whale foam hats and sailboat belts by the epically preppy Vineyard Vines, so there is probably a market for this, too. And, terrifyingly, whoever buys it will likely accessorize with the Vineyard Vines Harvard ivy tie.