Last week, it was announced that the U.S.P.S. is partnering with the Wahconah Group of Cleveland to produce an exclusive line of men's wear. They plan to call the collection "Rain Heat & Snow", based upon the unofficial motto of the Postal Service. It is to be sold in department stores starting in 2014.
From a statement by agency licensing manager Steven Mills: “This agreement will put the Postal Service on the cutting edge of functional fashion. The main focus will be to produce Rain Heat & Snow apparel and accessories using technology to create ‘smart apparel’ — also known as wearable electronics.”
This new venture is another way the Post Office is looking to bring in some extra revenue to deal with the congressionally mandated pre-funding of employee benefits. (A mandate without which, the U.S.P.S. would be in the black instead of billions of dollars in the red. A mandate that no other agency is required to perform, mind you.) With this particular agreement, the Postal Service isn't putting out any resources. Essentially, they've just given license for their name and will collect royalites based on sales.
I didn't know this, but in the 1980s, there was a short-lived branding campaign for other types of U.S.P.S. merchandize like coffee cups and T-shirts sold in post offices. (I have a sad memory of staining a "Love" stamp shirt intended as a gift for one of my cousins by my grandmother.) Congress put a stop to that little money tree, though, after lobbyists claimed that " the organization was directly competing with private businesses and that it was not established to sell merchandise."
(I feel like there's a pattern here with Congress and the Post Office...)
I don't know how I feel about the prospect of branded U.S.P.S. clothes. I mean, I have and treasure some vintage postal uniform pieces, but to me, those are special because they were used in postal delivery. I have never been one for buying something simply for name's sake. In my youth, I took permanent marker and blacked out branding on my clothing.
What do you guys think? Would you buy U.S.P.S. clothing? Do you approve of this move by the Postal Service to increase revenue? Let us know how you feel in the comments.