Leslie Wexner’s Limited Brands deal in line with new Ohio State apparel contract

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Scarlet and Gray has gone Pink.

The recent release of a Victoria’s Secret Pink Ohio State collection has raised questions of how the new Buckeye line fits in with OSU’s exclusive apparel licensing contract.

On Nov. 15, OSU announced a 10-year, $97 million deal with apparel companies Fanatics Inc., based in Jacksonville, Fla., and J. America Sportswear, based in Webberville, Mich., giving these companies the exclusive rights to design, marketing, production, retail and distribution of all apparel, according to a university press release.

OSU has not released further details surrounding the apparel deal because it is not yet finalized, said Gayle Saunders, university spokeswoman. Saunders said the deal should be finalized in spring.

Pink, not affiliated with Fanatics Inc. or J. America Sportswear, began selling OSU-branded merchandise on Dec. 11.

The exclusive rights deal was made with some exceptions in mind, said Rick Van Brimmer, director of Trademark and Licensing Services at OSU.

There are about six brands that are exempt to the exclusive apparel licenses with Fanatics and J. America, including Nike, Disney, Hello Kitty, Snoopy and Marvel, Van Brimmer said.

“(The Pink OSU collection) was in the works before (the exclusive licensing) deal was signed,” Van Brimmer said.

Pink representatives contacted OSU in about May or June, Van Brimmer said.

“We’ve had conversations with them before but … Les Wexner (was) on the Board (OSU’s Board of Trustees), and that created a situation … There were some issues on their side,” Van Brimmer said.

The Limited Brands CEO stepped down from his position as OSU’s Board of Trustee’s chairman in June, eight years before his contract was set to expire, without providing a reason. Since his resignation Wexner has canceled a scheduled interview with The Lantern.

Other OSU employees suggested any concerns about conflicts of interest due to Wexner’s Board position were on Pink’s side.

“I don’t want to speculate (on the role Wexner’s resignation played in the apparel deal) because we’re not directly involved,” said Xen Riggs, associate vice president for Student Life, referring The Lantern to Pink for comment.

Neither Limited Brands nor Victoria’s Secret provided comment on how Wexner’s resignation from the Board in June might have affected the Pink apparel deal.

OSU has a contract with apparel companies New Era Cap, based in Buffalo, N.Y., and its subsidiary 5th and Ocean Clothing, based in Hialeah, Fla. The contract with Pink was made through 5th and Ocean Clothing, Van Brimmer said.

According to Pink’s website, there are 17 items in the collection, which, according to the Limited Brands, is being sold at 20 Victoria’s Secret locations across Ohio. The prices for the collection’s items range from $29.50 to $108, according to Pink’s website.

OSU will make 12 percent of the wholesale price of each item sold, Van Brimmer said.

“Basically all of our apparel contracts are 12 percent of the wholesale price,” Van Brimmer added.

The royalties will then be distributed according to a formula that the Board has determined, spreading money out across the university to “benefit the student experience on a daily basis,” Van Brimmer said.

“It’s scholarships, it’s support of student programming, it’s student life, it helps support the libraries, it helps support athletic scholarships, so it goes to a variety of different places,” he said.

The Lantern: Leslie Wexner's Limited Brands deal in line with new Ohio State apparel contract

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