The New York City Fire Department, whose reputation has soared following the Sept. 11 World Trade Center attacks, has struck a licensing deal with Matrix/SGI to produce T-shirts, hats, sweatshirts, fleece outerwear and other staples imprinted with the department’s logo.
The concept evolved from the Fire Zone shop launched at Bloomingdale’s in late October as a fund-raiser for the FDNY. This month, it was extended to include other units of Federated Department Stores, including Macy’s East and West, Burdines and The Bon Marche. Most stores are using main-floor outposts or Americana concept shops to display the goods.
Matrix/SGI also produces licensed apparel and hats for the New York City Police Department. First-year projected wholesale volume for both lines is $15 million, said Bruce Renick, executive vice president of sales and marketing, with royalties going to the departments.
After seeing how some manufacturers were profiting from the terrorist tragedy, Renick said he wanted to do something that would allow consumers to acknowledge FDNY’s heroism, while also benefiting the department, which was organized following the Revolutionary War.
Unlike the knockoff goods being sold on the sidewalk and flea markets in the city, Matrix’s merchandise is imprinted with official trademarks and carries hangtags highlighting how some of the proceeds are donated to the department. “Millions of dollars” worth of counterfeit goods have been produced and distributed, Renick said.
To try to offset that problem, Matrix/SGI has sent out about 100 cease and desist letters to alleged counterfeiters and notifying them of its official license. Some manufacturers did not realize the FDNY is a registered trademark, he said.
FDNY and NYPD merchandise has combined to sell about 10,000 units a week leading up to Christmas, Renick said.