By Bryan Hay
Nothing beats a thick, well-worn college sweatshirt to feel, well, collegiate, and Chuck Corsi has seen generations of students, alumni, and families choose countless pieces of maroon and white attire to show their colors and allegiance.
After all the years observing buying habits, he knows what Pards like to wear.
New styles and fabrics come and go, but tastes have changed little over the years in terms of how the Lafayette audience prefers the presentation of the College logo.
“They’ve always gone for the classic collegiate look, the stacked or oval logos on T-shirts and the bold, embroidered or stitched lettering on sweatshirts, pullovers, and ball caps,” says Corsi, who’s worked at the College Store for nearly 30 years, 18 as its manager.
“Lafayette students and alumni like a clean look,” he says. “But the retro styles and new colors and designs we have used on the clothing in the past year have been enthusiastically received.”
Retro items, like this year’s paneled, thickly stitched maroon ball cap with the College’s founding year, 1826, embroidered on it, are selling out as fast as he can stock them.
“We sold 150 of them and just placed an order for another 120,” Corsi says. “Clothing that displays a school’s established date is hot right now.”
To get a pulse on emerging styles, Corsi attends a national campus expo every February and some smaller regional shows and makes purchases for the year based on what he sees as the next big thing.
Another one of this year’s top sellers to come out of his market observations is a soft terrycloth-like pullover for women. Cream colored, it has maroon lettering on the front with a subtle “Pards” on the side of the collar. A floor sample on a mannequin torso greets visitors at the store’s doorway on the lower level of Farinon Center.
A perennial best-seller is the classic, heavyweight Champion sweatshirt, so dense it feels like it weighs five pounds and could last a lifetime. “I buy 900 of them a year,” Corsi says.
All of it, along with logoed water bottles, travel mugs, and other gear, is available, even the dog leashes and collars, which were a surprising hit at Family Weekend earlier this semester.
“I don’t always understand why certain things sell,” he says. “But shoppers came in with their dogs on Family Weekend, and they left with their own Lafayette collars and leashes.”
The store has its annual holiday sale today through Friday, with clothing and gifts 25 percent off and gift wrapping provided as a fundraiser by Alternative School Break Club.