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Marvel characters unite with Ohio State spirit

Courtesy of Russell Brands

As kids, some Ohio State fans might have sported their Fruit of the Loom underwear in support of their favorite superhero. Now as adults, those same kids are probably more likely to wear an OSU shirt to the theater to see their favorite characters on the big screen rather than those considerably shameful youth-sized undies.

Russell Athletic and Marvel Entertainment are making it a little easier for Buckeyes to show their spirit for their favorite school superheroes at the same time.

In the first ever co-branding between Russell and Marvel, the companies are producing a collegiate superhero clothing line to sell on college campuses nationwide.

The apparel will combine some of Marvel’s most popular characters with the respective school logos and colors. The line also marks the first collegiate clothing line Marvel has ever co-branded. It had, however, previously co-branded with Fruit of the Loom, which Russell Brand is a subsidiary of, to produce superhero apparel such as youth underwear.

“Obviously college fans are passionate about their school and Marvel fans are equally passionate. We thought it was a great opportunity to sort of merge the two,” said Mike Jerchower, director of licensing at Marvel. “This really allows the ability to go after that college fan who is also a Marvel fan. It’s just an opportunity to offer them a different, creative look they’re not traditionally getting under a college-only T-shirt or a Marvel-only T-shirt.”

Last year Marvel co-branded apparel with the NBA and Dallas Cowboys, Jerchower said, and after success from that it seemed “just a natural extension” to do a collegiate collection.

Matt Murphy, senior vice president for sales of retail license products for Russell Brands, said Russell was sold on the co-brand with Marvel because of the hype leading up to Marvel’s summer superhero flicks, such as “The Avengers” in May and “The Amazing Spider-Man” in July.

“There is a broad consumer base that enjoys these blockbuster movies and these characters in general,” Murphy said. “And to have that combined with your favorite school, mascots and logos of your school is kind of two for the price of one.”

About 30 colleges have picked up the clothing line since it launched Aug. 1, Murphy said.

Carried in women’s, men’s and youth sizes, the line consists of T-shirts and hooded and crew-style sweatshirts, which Murphy estimated are sold at a bottom price of about $18 and $29, respectively. He added sale prices for the product are also dependent on what retailers want to sell the product for.

Murphy said chain retailers such as Peebles, Hibbett Sports and Neebo-supplied bookstores have picked up the line. Several bookstores at OSU, however, have not yet been approached about the line and are unsure if they’ll be carrying it.

College Town, located at 1770 N. High St., which is supplied by Neebo, hasn’t made plans to stock the product yet. Bob Olsen, buyer for the bookstore, said the store has no plans to carrying it as of now.

Jessica George, buyer for SBX, located at 1806 N. High St., also said she was unfamiliar with the line and couldn’t speak on whether it would be carried in store.

Cynthia Harris, assistant director for retail operations at Station 88, located in the Ohio Union, said the store doesn’t have any plans to carry the line either.

“We do not carry the Marvel line and after viewing the line, I do not have immediate plans to book the products for the store,” Harris said in an email.

Murphy said he is hopeful of getting the product on OSU’s campus in September though.

“It’s just a great piece of apparel to add to your collection,” Jerchower said. “It’s a great opportunity for fans to show their support for not only Ohio State, but the Marvel characters.”

Jerchower also said Spider-Man has historically been one of Marvel’s most popular characters, but in recent years Iron Man has developed a passionate following. He said he suspects those characters to be big sellers in campus bookstores.

Robert Wolfe, a second-year in biomedical engineering, said if the line was carried on campus, he’d purchase a shirt with Iron Man, his favorite superhero on it. Wolfe also said he’s been a fan of Marvel since he was a kid.

“It’s just cool to watch them beat the bad guys,” Wolfe said.

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