What company is starting a FashionTech label? Here’s some hints:
- They have an annual operating revenue of $70 Billion.
- They employ 546,000 people.
- They were founded in 1775.
- They run the largest vehicle fleet in the world.
- They spend $1.1 Billion on gas a year.
- And they had a $15.6 Billion deficit in 2012.
Give up? You probably should have, because no one could have guessed that the United States Postal Service will be launching a fashion label in 2014.
Announced late last month, USPS has entered into a licensing agreement with Cleveland-based Wahconah Group, Inc., a design and manufacturing firm. The partnership will produce a line consisting of all-weather jackets, headgear, footwear and clothing which accommodates devices such as iPods.
Isaac Crawford, CEO of Wahconah Group, Inc. tells ABC News that this is going to be an “image-conscious, first class, high end line.” Crawford says that there is a two sided phase to this “Rain Heat & Snow” all weather line.
“One side represents the legacy, the romanticism of the postal service, the idea they started the same time that the country did.”
He continues, “We are looking at carrying some of that forward but we are also trying to be innovative… We want to make it into something that everyone will be interested in today.”
Steven Mills, Postal Service corporate licensing manager, said in a statement that the agreement is intended to put the Postal Service on the “cutting edge of functional fashion.”
We publish enough FashionTech content here to know that technology-enabled clothing is a hot new thing. But what makes a company that couldn’t even see email coming think that they could predict fashion?
That ain’t no joke. In a 22 page report published at the PostalVision 2020 Conference by VA Shiva Ayyadurai’s research center, the International Center for Integrative Systems (ICIS), found that providing email services was “in line with the United States postal Office’s mission” and could generate $250 million of revenue per year.
That sounds like it would have been a fantastic idea 10 years ago, but even the USPS seems to realize that that ship is so far sailed that even entering the fashion industry has better prospects.
If we consider that the company isn’t looking to sell clothes but have the clothes sell a message, then the answer to ‘why?’ is right there in Crawford’s own words. He wants the “tech focused fashion line” to spark the “romanticism” of the USPS as a great American institution. He wants the clothes to sell the message that our men and women are legally required to hike through “Rain Heat & Snow” to every door in the country 6 days a week. He wants the USPS to be cool again, to be tech-forward, and this fashion line could very well be their last chance at succeeding in it.
Unfortunately nostalgia couldn’t be less help in getting my request for a return ticket at QVC in the time that I need it. I’m 25 years old, I have no idea where the nearest post office is, and an iPod-holding hoodie isn’t going to change that. I don’t know how much a stamp costs and I quite possibly may never need to know.
Almost every tech blog has pointed out that most of the jobs that were lost in The Great Recession aren’t ever going to come back. This includes the 28,000 jobs that USPS eliminated in 2011.
The USPS is dead, but I suspect that they will have one hell of a fashion show next year before they all but close their doors.