Science - January 15, 2009

WUR SWEATER IS HOT

At first, university T-shirts may have been only for nerds, but now you see them everywhere – in lecture halls, on the ice, in the pub. The WUR sweater, in particular, is hot. For one first-year student, ‘This hoody marked the clear start of my new life here.’

Azlim Kahn from Malaysia keeps warm in his WUR sweater.
When rector Martin Kropff proudly presented the first Wageningen University shirts at the end of 2005, they were mainly greeted with a snigger. They were shapeless, much too big, and the print that said ‘Wageningen No. 1 University’ inspired more embarrassment than pride. But the shirts were ordered wholesale and after all, they were free and you could always use them as sportswear or pyjamas.

It’s a different story for the latest Wageningen clothing line, and students are happily paying 12.50 Euros for the well-cut T-shirts, now also available in a fitted women’s version. And the hooded sweater, priced at 34.50 Euros, is a runaway success.

More than fifty thousand garments have been sold this year, says Steven ter Velde, who runs the WUR shop on the ground floor of the forum. They come in all sorts of colours, but they all proclaim, ‘Wageningen University Est. MCMXVIII’ The University was founded in 1918, and to celebrate its ninetieth anniversary, all students were invited to choose a free T-shirt from the shop last year. ‘That was what led to this success’ thinks Ter Velde. New students want one too now. Besides the shirts and sweaters, WUR caps and bags are also quite popular and have sold in their hundreds. The drinking bottles are not selling as fast, and nor are the American graduation teddy bears, complete with mortar board.

The merchandise is popular with overseas students, who often buy a shirt or a bag as a memento of their time in Wageningen. But more and more Dutch students can be spotted in a WUR outfit, too. ‘They’re perfectly good sweaters, and they’re nice and warm too’, says Anneloes Dijkstra. She has recently transferred from the university to Van Hall Larenstein, but she is still wearing her university hoody. She thinks the merchandise is popular because students are proud of their university. Marrit van den Akker, a first year biology student, agrees: ‘I bought my sweater as soon as I got here. I made a conscious choice to come to Wageningen rather than a university in a big city. For me, my hoody meant a clear start to my new life here.’ Nadja Schiemann, who works at the International Office, thinks that the revival of interest in university clothes is to do with Wageningen’s increasingly international character. ‘It’s a global trend that you see in all the universities, and the students here are picking up on it.’

One of the overseas students who often sports a WUR sweater is Azlim Kahn from Malaysia, who has been studying Geo Information Science here since last year. In Malaysia it can be 33 degrees Celcius, so Azlim found it hard to adapt to the Dutch climate. ‘I wore lots of layers of clothing just to keep a bit warm’, Azlim says. ‘A thermal vest, then a sports shirt, then a long-sleeved shirt and then a sweater. And I was still cold.’

His fellow student Paul Link felt sorry for him and bought him a sweater from the Forum. It is now his favourite garment. ‘It’s the only sweater I really feel warm in, and now I don’t have to wear so many layers, luckily.’ Azlim hopes to buy a sweater in the sale for his wife, who lives with him in Rhenen.

Unfortunately for Azlim, there is no sign of a sale at the WUR shop in the near future. There are a number of new products on offer, however, such as children’s clothing, umbrellas and quality pens. And Van Hall Larenstein now has its own sweaters and T-shirts, with Van Hall Larenstein printed in white. The designs and prizes are the same as the university’s, but the VHL clothing is only available by order from email('wurshop.fb','wur.nl'); . For a price including postage costs, your sweater or shirt can be delivered to your door.

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