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Hi. Welcome to the University of Aéropostale.
Seriously, if you did not know what UWI STA was, by the look of things you would arrive at the conclusion that the name of this institution was Aéropostale. Emblazoned on many a shirt around here, Aéropostale Inc. has really made its mark on the University of the West Indies, St Augustine campus. From the very first day of the semester it was in-your-face obvious that some kind of Aéropostale fetish was born over our four-month-long vacation and somehow made its way back to UWI, STA. The brand existed way before this semester yet I cannot remember a time when both males and females promoted the same brand in unison like this. So what changed? I have not the slightest clue! What’s even more striking than the increased chance of you and someone else wearing the same shirt to class these days, is that campus pride is, for want of a better word, absent. Very rarely you would see someone wearing a T-Shirt with “UWI” on it. Only those UWI Open Campus sixth formers wear them…because they have to. Oh the little people. Moving on.
So the Aéropostale movement is present but where is UWI, STA? Definitely not in our wardrobes. Or maybe it is in our wardrobes but it never sees the sunlight. Whichever one, most of us aren’t proud to wear a shirt that says to the world that we attend the University of the West Indies. And the nagging question is why? The answer to that is a shrug. Students do not think about the missing campus pride. But I do. I used to be proud to flaunt my UWI Tees…in year ONE! Four years later and I don’t miss either one of those poorly made Tees anyway. The University has chewed me up and I am stuck somewhere in its intestine. Constipated much? But this is not a rant about my experiences at UWI, STA. I will leave that entertaining piece for another blog. What was I writing about? Right. Aéropostale.
Yesterday as I embarked on the long and arduous walk to the Priority Bus Route from Rituals, I stopped at the sign that read: “UWI is now pleased to announce Aéropostale as an official sponsor. LOL. Kidding.”
I whipped out my Blackberry and snapped a picture. It was to capture the hilariousness as well as the rare moment that I get to see something that was in my head for weeks on Bristol board, scotch-taped to a wall. It really does appear as though this brand is sponsoring us, which brings me to my next point – the shirts are bloody expensive. Local retailers sell Aéropostale shirts for anywhere between TT$150 and TT$300 depending on the style. I know it does not seem like much money compared to the TT$400 and TT$500 we pay for shirts these days but Aéropostale wear is much cheaper on the brand’s website! Significantly! Did you know UWI Tees are available at the UWI, Bookshop for TT$50? That’s one-third the cost of the cheapest Aéropostale shirt! Why, then, not wear the UWI shirts? Sigh. The fact is that Aéropostale, a recognized brand, is actually inexpensive compared to Ed Hardy, D&G and Bebe.
Additionally, maybe the “1987” that is seen on almost all of Aéro’s shirts are a big hit with those born in that year. Which brings me to yet another point: Aéropostale’s target market does not include you, my fellow Aéropostale-wearing UWI students. We are just the additional revenue, the ‘you-can-wear-it-too’ people. Aéropostale Inc principally targets teenagers between the ages of 14 and 17. The average age of a student entering university is 18. But there are smiles on the faces of Aéro peeps because that means their marketing strategy went above and beyond its goal—just like the Blackberry. The current technology staple was just made for business professionals but marketing the Smartphone was so successful that now business professionals and a mass of ordinary joes and janes have the phone. More revenue—you won’t hear them complaining.
Anyway, it looks as though Aéropostale is here to squat for the semester and, quite possibly, the academic year. But, as Heidi Klum would say, “In fashion; one day you’re in, the next day you’re out,” so we wait with not-so-baited breath to see what becomes of this fad and if the trend of UWI campus pride will come on stream at some point in this lifetime.
Vishala Ganesh is a journalist and blogger. Check out her latest blog CampusPride