Harvard's Fashion Line Just Like Harvard: Moneygrubbing, Elitist, Passé

Hard-up Harvard needs cash. So they signed a ten-year licensing deal with Manhattan fashion firm Wearwolf to lend their name to Harvard Yard, a clothing line endorsed and inspired by the ubiquitous Ivy League name-dropped school. It's awesomely ridiculous.

The New York Times Styles section rightly takes the school to task for the utter ridiculousness perpetrated by a school in financial trouble, one that's only extending its own unique brand of elitism—true, or not, but come on: true—one step further by manifesting it in physical wares. Not that anyone needs to look too deeply into this when they're just flashing their hand, here:

"It's a modern rendition of a classic American heritage," said John Fowler, the creative director. "We want to combine the power of Harvard with the power of a plaid shirt."

Yes: the kung-fu like power grip of an institution becoming less and less relevant with the discovery that a college degree doesn't necessarily lend itself to a fruitful post-college existence so much as it does post-college debt. But Hahhvahhd—with all of its widely reputed Ivy Leage smarts—will use their marketing power to make their brand available to the masses in order to actually make some coin on this thing, right? HBS, where you at?

Oxford shirts start at $165, and sports coats run to $495. The company declined to discuss its projected sales figures.

Heh. Cintra Wilson would be proud. Even better is the official line on this from the school, one that takes allegations of moving their elitist pylons even wider into the field of potential money-givers and high-performance students seeking out results over reputation.

The university, for its part, appears to be growing tired of the attention. "Oh joy, rapture," a spokesman, John Longbrake, said when informed about the subject of this article.

Rapture, indeed! One of the most quotable articles in the history of the Styles section continues when they hit up the Harvard Crimson for their outrage on this. Now: student newspaper, supposed to represent the voice of the students, who are probably pissed off that this education they paid so much for and worked so hard to be a part of is being appropriated by a New York fashion label for mass consumption, correct?

In an editorial last week, The Harvard Crimson wrote that criticism of the line was unwarranted: "It is misguided to blame the university for doing what it can to pay its bills, even if that means allowing Harvard's name to adorn crimson-lined blazers and madras shorts reminiscent of the 1950s ‘good-old-boy' era."

Guess not. Voices of reason, come in!

"Every move to paste the Harvard name on symbols of prosperity, wealth, privilege and class erects a subtle, insidious ‘Members Only' sign at the university admissions office," Peter M. Conti-Brown, a 2005 graduate, said in an e-mail message.

Mr. Conti-Brown served as the undergraduate director of an extensive outreach effort by the admissions office to broaden Harvard's appeal to students from poorer backgrounds.

The barriers were often psychological, Mr. Conti-Brown recalled. "We were going up against 400 years of history," he said. "Without a doubt, licensing preppy clothes with the Harvard brand is a move in the opposite direction."

If anything's made evident by all of these conflicted Ivy League opinions, it's that there's still a healthy amount of discourse on the campus of what to do when you (A) need money and (B) have a reputation you need to shed that you're hard to part with because, hey, even though you're progressive, you still want the power, or at the very least, an impression of having it. So the final question comes down, then, to what it looks like, and if it's even worth buying. You be the judge:

Harvard's Fashion Line Just Like Harvard: Moneygrubbing, Elitist, Passé

The Ivy League Loan Shark look's gonna go far this season. Not exactly the high fashion of a "hot tranny mess," but perfect for a night in A.C. Buy!