Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Bit of Lancaster in Rome

Yeah, I know. Doesn't make a lick of sense, does it? Please allow me to put this in context for you.

Lately, I've spotted some folks in Rome and also some celebs on trashy gossip sites (come on, what's a grrrl to do without trashy TV?) wearing clothes conspicuously marked with the logo Franklin & Marshall. For my Pennsylvanians, that name might ring a bell as Franklin & Marshall College, a small liberal arts school located in Lancaster, PA. Was I wrong to connect fashionable young Italians with small town U.S.A.?

It turns out I was wrong to think that there wouldn't be something wildly profitable in a Veronese clothing company that operates under the guise of promoting vintage, American, college style across the pond from the place where it was allegedly born (wait, why does it smell like Abercrombie & Fitch all of a sudden? I hate that smell). The creators of the F&M clothing line are a couple of Italians who were inspired to create the line in 1999 when they spotted a second-hand Franklin & Marshall sweatshirt a London flea market. According to Wikipedia, they almost didn't get away with their presumptuous branding, but the college decided not to sue and instead to accept a licensing fee from F&M clothing to continue producing cheeky sweatsuits bearing the name.

In a portion of the F&M clothing website entitled "The Heritage," the history of the clothing company and the college are strangely intertwined. I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around this fashion phenomenon, and when we happened by one of the F&M stores off of Campo de' Fiori this morning, I had to head home to do a little research. I'm especially concerned that a slightly edgier A&F has gained its footing in Rome (of all places! you can have your McDonald's, but leave your faux-vintage distressed hoodies to the college towns of the Big 10!).

Stores are peppered throughout Europe but conspicuously absent from Lancaster.

Top right: F&M store in Rome.

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