‘U’ pulls out of Victoria’s Secret apparel deal over image concerns

U officials cite miscommunication between Victoria’s Secret and the Collegiate Licensing Company

by Andrew Cummins

Goldy Gopher won’t be appearing on scantily clad supermodel mannequins anytime soon.

Despite previous reports, the University will not take part in the upcoming Victoria’s Secret PINK Collegiate Collection .

University Associate Athletics Director Tom Wistrcill said the school notified its licensing agency that the clothing line was not in step with the University’s values and focus.

However, a news release sent out last week by Victoria’s Secret had the University listed as one of its 33 schools involved in the line.

“Quite frankly, the press release and the attention it received caught us completely by surprise,” Wistrcill said.

As of Tuesday afternoon, products featuring the University’s trademarks are still being sold at victoriassecret.com .

University spokesman Dan Wolter said the University has been working to get the products taken down and expected that to happen soon.

However, if the apparel is sold online or in stores, there is always a legal avenue the school can explore, he said.

There might have been miscommunication between the parties involved, as the University has used the Collegiate Licensing Company as its middleman between the school and companies requesting licenses for the past two years, Wistrcill said.

That middle company means the University didn’t directly communicate with Victoria’s Secret, he said.

Both Victoria’s Secret and the Collegiate Licensing Company did not comment on the alleged miscommunication and the University’s decision to withdraw from the line.

The University turns down about two of every five licensing requests “right off the bat,” Wistrcill said – those often involve alcohol-related products.

Last year, the school decided to halt production of T-shirts bearing the phrase “Brew’s Crew” because of a perceived connection to drinking, but the University has since approved production of the apparel.

Such decisions are made as a cooperative effort between athletics department officials and University Relations , Wistrcill said.

The University of Wisconsin is listed as a school involved with the line, and the school’s trademark licensing director Cindy Van Matre said that’s still the plan.

The school has approved licensing deals similar to the Victoria’s Secret line before, she said.

She also said she suspects that University-licensed products similar to those in the Victoria’s Secret line have been sold at bookstores and other retail businesses.

Goldy’s Locker Room in Stadium Village sells both boy short and thong underwear with University logos on them, manager Jon Mueller said, and the store hasn’t received complaints about the apparel it carries.

However, the decision to not take part in the Victoria’s Secret line was more based on the company’s reputation and image, rather than the appropriateness of the apparel, Wolter said.

“There are very legitimate issues that people have with that specific company and how they market,” he said, citing body image issues as an example.

The fact that proper discussions were not held on the topic also played into the University’s decision to change course, Wolter said.

The PINK Collegiate Collection clothing line is set to launch next month.