Bear Wear: Stylish Around the World
By Becca Jensen
Published Apr 1, 2012 8:00 AM
Global trendsetters are going gaga for Bear Wear. UCLA is a coveted lifestyle brand across Europe and Asia, a trend that began in the '70s, when the university became a focus of Japan's fascination with all things Western, and continues to this day, thanks to UCLA's standing as a top-tier university, a sports powerhouse and a hub of Southern California chic.
While other U.S. universities dabble in the international apparel market, UCLA is clearly out in front. "We're not competing for shelf space with Stanford, Berkeley, USC and Michigan," says Cindy Holmes, director of UCLA Trademarks & Licensing. "We're competing with Ralph Lauren, Diesel and Abercrombie & Fitch."
In China, where there are more than 75 UCLA retail locations, the look is business casual: woven shirts, blazers, sports jackets and trousers. Developed by the licensee U's Industrial, the line's cachet comes from the UCLA label inside the clothes and a few subtle exterior markers like a tiny blue, white and gold patch on the outside of a jacket.
In Europe, UCLA teamed up with U.K. licensee Ideal Europe to launch a fashion-forward men's and women's collections for multibrand retail stores and online. The first Brit Bear Wear store opened in the London suburbs in 2010. Ideal Europe is working with UCLA to develop a new line that highlights the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and the 2012 London games.
There's also a recently launched bag collection from licensee Libro Group, which runs the gamut from a stylish retro backpack to a whimsical over-sized floral shoulder bag to an elegant blue-and-gold travel purse. Libro sells the bags in Nordic countries and is expanding into Eastern Europe and Russia.
The UCLA brand also is worn in Singapore, Korea and India. Holmes hopes to launch in Brazil, South Africa, Australia and the Middle East by year's end.