The 1920s come roaring back: Heritage sweaters return to Canisius

By Robert Creenan
Senate Beat Reporter

If you got an email yesterday about a new kind of sweater that looks like its been pulled straight from a 1920’s college poster, it’s because they may soon be one of the hottest items on the Canisius campus.

These sweaters are the brainchild of juniors Jeffrey Spencer and Jeff McGuire. It came to McGuire after he saw an old Canisius sweater his dad had.

The heritage sweaters purposed by Jeffery Spencer and Jack McGuire.

The heritage sweaters purposed by Jeffery Spencer and Jack McGuire.

“We also saw some of these in cases outside the Koessler Athletic Center, and a couple of months later, I tried looking for one off of Craigslist,” Spencer said. “And I finally found one from someone’s dad who graduated in the 1920’s in perfect condition. After that we spent the next year contacting different manufacturers and got prices around $130 and $400. A friend of mine got an old-fashioned sweater like this at Trinity College in Connecticut, done by Hillflint. We reached out to the head manufacturer and we’ve been off and running since then.”

The company making these, Hillflint, has only been around for three years, was a start-up company founded by former Princeton students. But they went viral quickly with their initial Ivy League sweaters. Now they have about 80 schools that they make sweaters like these for.

The details sent out in the mass email were for a pre-order, for the Senate subsidized price of $40, but only if the initial interest of 50 students is met. This initial sale period goes until October 6.

“The Senate liked the idea so much that they wanted to subsidize the first 50 by $15,” Spencer said, who is also a junior class senator. “The sweaters that Hillflint usually sells like the proposed Canisius one, cost around $85. Those are for places like Harvard, Columbia, Yale, etc. The price they’re giving us is $55. We’re also discussing student organizations getting this sweater as their apparel item, and subsidizing that depending on who in their organization wants one. So this subsidization could expand.”

“Right now we just have this one order, but hopefully, there will be enough demand that it can just order it, and it will get here in a week,” said McGuire. “As of right now, once we send the pre-order in, it will take 8-10 weeks for them to arrive, hopefully before the end of the semester”.

If this initial design of retro sweater is successful, Spencer and McGuire hope to add more designs to the lineup. “There’s a long-standing tradition at Ivy League schools that just have the year you graduate on them. And that’s it,” Spencer said. Hopefully, we’ll recreate those for the Class of 2017. I think there’s definitely a market for traditional styling and heritage items. Long-term, we want to expand into different items, like ties.”

“I think that students already love it, given the responses we’ve had from people we’ve shown it to so far,” Spencer stated. “We can reach out to alumni after students start to receive theirs, but after this order, we could do more orders of this one type or expand into the class sweaters.”  

As of right now, the only way to order the sweaters is through Hillflint, as these won’t be available in the campus bookstore or other online stores. “We talked to the general manager about it. They used to bring in third party sellers, but they don’t anymore. It could be explored in the future.”

If that initial order doesn’t reach the 50-person mark, then that order would be cancelled and “the people will get their money back if the order falls flat,” Spencer stated. “But neither of us think that will be an issue, given the initial feedback we got.”

Spencer and McGuire feel that Canisius has been lacking school spirit for quite a while and some students aren’t aware of the history this school has. “It’s a generational school,” McGuire stated. “Lots of people here have parents or grandparents that went here. This is kind of like singing the alma mater. It unites us in a way that’s bigger than ourselves. If we can remind students that we’re part of something that has longevity and history, it gives us pride as a student body. The clothes at the bookstore right now are more geared towards having the athletic look, where the sweaters are more formal and for regular people.”

“I think Canisius is in a trend right now that’s going towards more modern, like the new library design and the online courses,” McGuire continued. “That’s not a bad thing, but I think we should still be rooted in our history, it’s a visual reminder of where we come from.”

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