As shoppers browse through rows of denims and khakis in the
casual-apparel store in Guangzhou, China, there’s not much to
distinguish it from an everyday GAP or Banana Republic in any U.S.
mall ““ except for the gigantic poster of the UCLA football
team that greets each shopper.

The UCLA store in the south of China, one of the latest of its
type to open in Asia, reflects a growing trend in which the
university is using its name recognition and marketable lifestyle
for financial gain around the world.

UCLA is currently finalizing plans to open its newest store in
Japan, said Cindy Holmes, the licensing director of UCLA Trademarks
and Licensing. Holmes said UCLA still needs to secure a retailer in
Japan before the store can open and couldn’t name a definite
time frame for the opening.

Over the last 20 years, 15 stores have opened in South Korea and
five in mainland China. UCLA also has licensed manufacturers in
Singapore, Mexico and parts of Europe.

UCLA makes $400,000 in royalties each year through its
international licensing program, Holmes said.

Unlike the UCLA T-shirts, sweatshirts and sporting gear that
fill the racks of the UCLA Store in Ackerman Union, the UCLA
apparel in the international market targets a wider audience.

Strategies for targeting a wider audience are different than
those used to attract students, said Louis Lee, president of
Interasia and Associates, a licensing agent for UCLA.

“The difference is mainly because the school products are
targets for students and alumni, but for the license program,
it’s catered toward a mass audience who are not students or
alumni,” Lee said.

In stark contrast to the large letters that scream across
apparel in the UCLA Store, sometimes the only UCLA identifier on an
article of clothing in an overseas store could be a label or a
button. The colors also stray far from the various combinations of
blue and gold that adorn the UCLA Store. All products have to be
approved by UCLA’s licensing department, Holmes said.

Licensing officials speculate that it is the Southern California
lifestyle and the prestige of the UCLA name that make the
university namesake so marketable overseas.

“The academic reputation is quite well-known in (the
international) society,” Lee said.

The name is especially popular in Asia because of the large
population of Asian immigrants that live in the L.A. area, he
said.

Holmes also said UCLA’s proximity to the beach, the
mountains and Hollywood could contribute to its marketability.

UCLA has the largest overseas licensing program among colleges
in the country, Holmes said, noting that UCLA is a popular tourist
site.

Some UCLA students who have lived in Asian countries agree that
UCLA was popular among their friends.

“UCLA is definitely one of the more popular universities
in Singapore versus other lesser-known schools,” said Irene
Wong, a second-year biochemistry student, who lived in Singapore
for nine years.

But, first-year undeclared student Tania Tsang wonders how long
the perceived UCLA attraction in Asia will last.

“It might be a trend that fades out,” Tsang said,
adding that she’s never encountered UCLA apparel in her
native country of Singapore.

With the spread of manufacturing across borders and out of
UCLA’s direct control, unfair labor practices and sweatshop
labor become a concern for UCLA officials.

Holmes said UCLA enforces strict labor laws, but cannot
guarantee that unfair labor practices do not occur in foreign
factories producing UCLA merchandise

Holmes said though she has not encountered labor-policy breaches
on her many visits overseas throughout the year, each year,
violations may inevitably occur.

“I’m not saying there is or isn’t,” she
said.