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Column: It’s time for Northwestern’s Big New Saturday

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The Good Brand is running out of excuses.

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As far as the aesthetics of Northwestern Athletics goes, there are a lot of questions to be asked in the next few years.

Will the Wildcats stay with Under Armour as it struggles to keep up with apparel giants Nike and Adidas? Will NU’s most iconic sporting venue, Ryan Field, get a much-needed facelift to stay up to date with Northwestern’s largely glistening new facilities? Will there be a football adaptation of the stunning Gothic Ice uniforms sported by Northwestern’s lacrosse and softball teams?

There’s one query, though, that might not be getting enough attention — when is the Homefield drop coming?

If you’re not familiar, Homefield Apparel, also known as The Good Brand, is an Indianapolis-based clothing company that designs and produces vintage-style merchandise for various colleges across the country. Homefield has gained somewhat of a cult following online, and for good reason. Supposedly, the clothes they make are very comfortable, and just look at some of these designs:

The designs are usually rooted in some aspect of a school’s history or athletic past that is beloved to fans. Anyways, Homefield has been putting on the second season of something they call “Big New Saturday” this summer, where they unveil a new line of merch from a new school, you guessed it, each Saturday. As a fan of The Good Brand itself, I’ve been intrigued to see what new and interesting designs each Saturday brings.

But as a Northwestern Wildcat, I’ve been disappointed week after week to see the ‘Cats never get their day in the sun. Despite the fact that nine fellow Big Ten schools have apparel designed by The Good Brand, NU’s got nothing.

If you were thinking, “Well, it might be easier for other B1G schools to land a deal with Homefield because they’re all public universities with larger student enrollments and larger alumni bases that might be willing to buy,” that would be a fair point until you realize that Homefield isn’t just making merch for big schools.

Take Tulane University, which I highlighted in the photos above, as an example. Despite having an undergraduate enrollment of 6,968 — a good thousand less than Northwestern’s — Tulane still has a Homefield line. Want an even more stunning case? Colorado School of Mines, with its Division II athletics and undergraduate enrollment of 5,154, has Homefield merch.

It's also not like there’s some lack of visual content to produce around at Northwestern. Even if you were to avoid any potential on-field historic inspiration for merchandisable material, Northwestern already has a lot going for it with its mascots alone. It seems likely that the folks over at The Good Brand would have a field day with Northwestern’s old unofficial mascot of the “Fighting Methodists,” which the school held until it was replaced by Wildcats in 1924. Likewise, the 1972 vote by Northwestern’s student body to change the school mascot to the Purple Haze would provide plenty of creative fodder to Homefield’s talented team of designers in Indy, I’m sure. And none of that is to mention the logo shown below, affectionately known by many fans as the Cocaine Cat.

So why hasn't Northwestern merch been released by Homefield yet?

There are two possible explanations:

  1. Northwestern hasn’t agreed to a licensing deal for Homefield to use its name, logos and brand.
  2. Homefield has decided that pursuing a Northwestern deal just isn’t in its best interest.

Either way, the decision-makers here need to wise up and realize that there is money to be made and loyal potential new customers to satisfy. Northwestern’s relatively successful alumni base will ensure there are plenty of buyers the second Homefield makes NU apparel available on its website. Homefield’s great designs and well-liked brand identity mean that those who purchase its Northwestern gear will be happy to wear it regularly, providing more exposure for the university.

All of this is good for business. All of this makes too much sense for it to not have already happened. So, on the off chance anyone from the Homefield team or whatever department decides licensing deals at Northwestern is reading this I beg of you — give the people what they want.

Give the ‘Cats their Big New Saturday.