Logo appropriation is no joke with most organizations, but the University of Cincinnati didn’t sound rattled after Comme des Garçons Shirt used its bearcats logo.
After seeing an image of a shirt featuring the logo on a male model on the runway on Paris, Marty Ludwig, the university’s director of trademarks and licensing, said, “The material they used was produced by one of our licensees, Fabrique Innovations. It’s typically used for blankets, throws and things like that.”
Although they are still looking into the matter, Ludwig said Comme des Garçons wouldn’t face any penalty for using the logo without the university’s consent. “As far as having it available and having it shown on the runway, we think it’s great,” he said. “Obviously, we’d like to know that beforehand but I don’t have any concerns. They didn’t do any harm to our brand. They didn’t alter our marks in any way. But we do have follow-up that we’re trying to work on with them if they want to move forward and actually produce product — beyond just putting product on a runway.”
Adrian Joffe, chief executive officer of Comme des Garçons, declined to comment Monday.
Uncertain if the University of Cincinnati licensee “sold it to the designer directly or they picked it up at a fabric store,” Ludwig said that specific fabric was sold at one time in fabric stores. “Mostly, for crafters doing little things like blankets, pillows and things like that. But it hasn’t been a very robust business on the crafter side.”
Ludwig said, “We think it’s great that they’re recognizing our brand and they’re incorporating it into designs. Unfortunately, the hard part with high fashion is what’s on the runway doesn’t always end up showing up in retailers. That’s part of why we’re following up and doing our due diligence with the designer to see is this just a concept that they’re trying to put out there or are they trying to put these in a full spring collection that they will book that particular design. And which stores is it going to be in — in the EU or Japan — or both.”
It appears that Comme des Garçons may have taken liberties in designing another shirt with another school logo — the Appalachian State University. Students at the Boone, N.C., campus know it well. A spokeswoman said, “While we do not have a licensing agreement with the Comme des Garçons label, we are working with our licensing agent to check into this further.”