The Binghamton University community is home to many student-run businesses, including multiple clothing brands. Big D Brands is a company that was founded in 2019 by Adam Malev, a sophomore majoring in accounting, and Mallory Fowler, a sophomore majoring in business administration. The inspiration for the brand came from Malev’s distaste for all of the BU merch available in the bookstore.
“I never liked the [BU] logo and was disappointed there was no simple [BU] college sweatshirt like the ones Berkeley or Michigan, or other one-word schools have,” Fowler wrote.
The brand designed a parody of the BU logo, where letters were highlighted to spell out “Big D” in the middle of the University’s name. This design was inspired by a viral picture of Drake wearing a “Tennessee” sweater where letters were highlighted to spell out “Finesse.” Big D Brands saw viral success when they posted a TikTok showing off their design in comparison to the Drake photo in a video which has now gained over 64,000 likes. From here, the brand expanded and designed other parody logos, including schools like Syracuse University, Baylor University and Gonzaga University. Fowler’s favorite design he’s produced thus far is the Syracuse University sweatshirt, which spells out “sauce” with the highlighting.
The brand has run into some challenges lately, with the Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC) that owns the rights to school logos from BU, Syracuse University and others, sending them a notice that they had to stop production and sale of their products immediately, despite other brands of larger sizes still being allowed to continue production.
“The interesting thing to me is the CLC’s notice to us to stop selling their schools’ products when much bigger student brands do really similar things without official licensing,” Fowler wrote.
Big D Brands is not the only student-run clothing company here at BU, with another popular brand, Public Ivy, also actively designing BU-related merchandise. Public Ivy was created by Justin Allen and Giancarlo Mertz, both juniors majoring in business administration. The brand started producing clothing last semester through a collaboration with Muckles’ Ink, a local manufacturer owned by BU alumni.
“We noticed a lack of a singular clothing brand that is associated with [BU] outside of the University’s merchandise,” Allen and Mertz wrote. “We wanted to fill this void of a brand the students of [BU] can associate themselves with and come together as a collective to celebrate the amazing people that come through this University during their four years.”
Their most popular design to date has been the “Mein Bowl Mary” merchandise that was released last month. Having started a brand during a tough, half-virtual semester in 2020, there has been a lack of opportunity to spread the brand. Yet, Public Ivy remains optimistic.
“Since we started our business in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been tough to enjoy the benefits of word-of-mouth that come from a close-knit campus like [BU’s] since there aren’t as many students currently here and not socializing as normal,” Allen and Mertz wrote. “As vaccinations continue to spread and in-person classes begin again, we are excited for the opportunity it gives us to interact with the student body more.”
Student-run businesses are successful here on campus, even during these hard times. Many students can be seen on campus wearing a Public Ivy hoodie or Big D Brands crewneck, which speaks to the dedication these brands have to promoting to students’ interests. Big D Brands is working on designs that won’t interfere with copyrighted logos, but they remain optimistic to produce new designs and even customs for people who request them on their Instagram. Public Ivy is also working to produce new designs, promote their merchandise and continue growing their brand within the BU community.
“[We] can’t wait to continue to meet [BU’s] fantastic students and give them clothing options that make them comfortable and proud of where they go to school,” Allen and Mertz wrote.