By Lily Vining || Managing Editor

If you had the opportunity to travel on a European holiday this summer, you have likely seen the mirage of collegiate sweatshirts from “unis” like Oxford and Cambridge. Mixed in with these posh passersby you may have spotted an abnormal number of people sporting the Franklin & Marshall emblem. You may have wondered, “Hm, there are a surprising number of alumni of my tiny liberal arts college here…” Yet you continued walking, not interested in wishing away the summer by thinking of school just yet.

Others of you may instead have spent your summer discovering a love for early 2000s country music (yee-haw). In doing so, you may have had a similar puzzlement at seeing Tim McGraw posing in a maroon Franklin & Marshall Wrestling t-shirt in a promotional photo for the 2001 album, “Set This Circus Down.” Or maybe you came across this photo of Ed Sheeran. “Are they” you may think, “notable alumni I did not know about? Where are their ‘Diplomats Forever’ banners?” (Most likely stolen, you rationalize.)

What do Tim McGraw, Ed Sheeran and these European prepsters have in common? Probably very little, despite one significant, and relevant, fact: they did not go to Franklin & Marshall College. 


Many students do not know that their small, liberal arts college in Lancaster, Pa. is not the only Franklin & Marshall. In 1999, two Italian fashion designers, Giuseppe Albarelli and Andrea Pensiero, discovered a collegiate sweatshirt from the 1950s with an F&M emblem discarded in a London charity shop. As stated in a press release, the designers were inspired by “the American Vintage College spirit” to reprint the logo onto their clothing pieces. 

This is when the Franklin and Marshall Clothing Company was born.

The posh sportswear line plays on the popularity of brands like Abercrombie & Fitch and a European curiosity about the “American college dream,” as the company’s website states. The company produces the majority of its products in Italy and has sales concentrated in Europe, Latin America, and Asia. In addition to its online store, the company also has retail locations in major cities throughout the world, including Athens, Paris, Milan, Tokyo, Osaka, Rome, Dubai, and Kuwait.

When “Franklin and Marshall” started to grow in popularity overseas, the College began hearing from traveling alumni about the appropriation of their alma mater’s name. 

“At first, we were a bit taken aback by seeing our name on their clothing,” said former Vice President for Finance and Administration Thomas Kingston in 2003. 

This led to the question: who owns “Franklin and Marshall”? Previously, the college did not have a copyright on the name, despite its use for over two centuries. When contested, the college gained exclusive copyright to the title only in the US due to its common law use since 1853. International copyright and trademark laws, however, require prior registry and therefore do not prevent the clothing company from using the name overseas.

Despite an initially rocky relationship leading to a lawsuit in 2003, the college and the company settled on mutually beneficial terms. The company could continue its operations overseas and use the name and imaging. In exchange, the College received a percentage of revenue to put toward the general financial aid fund.

Following this legal agreement, the relationship between the College and the company grew amiable. The brand even held photoshoots for numerous catalogs on campus and the bookstore briefly carried its products. However, the Italian company soon pulled its merchandise due to poor sales, as its products were more expensive than other hoodies and t-shirts offered by the bookstore. 

Campus landmarks appear in the background of the Franklin and Marshall ‘08-09 catalog. Image courtesy of The College Reporter Digital Archives.

In a 2020 agreement with Sugi International Limited, the Hong Kong-based footwear trading company that signed the worldwide license for Franklin and Marshall Brand back in 2019, the company also must offer one internship position every summer to an F&M student. The first intern, Lauren Arnold ’24, is currently working in Fashion Box S.p.a. in Asolo, Italy. Fashion Box, an Italian company known for REPLAY Jeans, signed the Licence for F&M adult apparel in agreement with Sugi. This overseas internship is an ongoing opportunity reserved for F&M students.

The unexpected partnership between College and clothing company has proven mutually beneficial: brand recognition worldwide and a shared value of quality and integrity— in education and manufacturing. 

And the perks for us students? We could apply for an internship in Italy, a country renowned for art and fashion. Or we could be mistaken for posh Europeans. I would accept either. 

Rising senior Lily Vining is the Managing Editor. Her email is