The Lehigh Store sells apparel, books, school supplies and snacks. A variety of brands are offered at the bookstore, including high-end ones like Tommy Bahama. (Maeve Kelly/B&W Staff)

Inside the Lehigh Store: The process of creating Lehigh apparel


Lehigh apparel and merchandise are proudly donned all across Lehigh’s campus. Even beyond campus, it’s common to find people passing by in a Lehigh t-shirt. 

But, rarely are people wearing the exact same item. 

The Lehigh Store, operated by Barnes and Noble, is constantly creating new designs and brand partnerships to match trends while also maintaining beloved styles. Renee Lutz, The Lehigh Store’s general manager, said a team of buyers, through Barnes and Noble, maintain the partnerships with apparel companies.

“They look at trends, like national trends you’ll see over time — sometimes the trend is a very small logo, sometimes it’s a very large logo,” Lutz said. 

Lutz meets with this team of buyers every month to discuss and plan new merchandise. The team works for other schools as well, and Lehigh is grouped with other, like-type schools. 

In addition to distinguishing designs and trends with Lutz’s input, the team seeks out brands to create Lehigh apparel. Champion and Under Armour are among the most popular brands, Lutz said. In recent years, Lehigh’s merchandise partnerships have grown to include higher-end brands, such as Tommy Bahama and Peter Millar, with prices averaging $100 per item. 

Lutz said these higher-end brands are inherently more expensive options because the merchandise itself is costly to begin with. With additional fees for Lehigh’s logo trademark, the price only goes up. 

As stated on Lehigh’s website, “The words ‘Lehigh’ and ‘Lehigh University,’ as well as the university shield, are valuable trademarks.” 

Lutz works closely with Monika Skuriat Fritz, Lehigh’s director of retail partnerships and marketing, when designing merchandise. 

“If it has ‘Lehigh’ printed on it, it has to go through (Fritz’s) office,” Lutz said. “She gives it the ultimate yay or nay.” 

Lutz said the pricing of merchandise changes with time and is affected just like any other United States retail business. 

Lutz attempts to keep a spectrum of price points and merchandise available to cover both high-quality, stylish merchandise and affordable items, like the $16 Lehigh t-shirts. 

“If you go someplace like Penn State, they have 100 different locations and you can probably walk in and get a $5 t-shirt,” Lutz said. “A $5 t-shirt is going to fall apart after the first wash, whereas we really try to stick to brands that are going to last. I’ll get someone who’s had a sweatshirt for 20 years asking if we still have it in stock.” 

Luke Hale, ‘24, was awarded store credit for The Lehigh Store by winning “Best Project” with his senior capstone group. 

“With the credit, I got Lehigh merch for my family,” Hale said. “My brother wears the shirt I got him at least once a week, and it seems to be holding up pretty well.” 

The styles sold in the bookstore change by season, but each section in the store is refreshed yearly, Lutz said. For example, the women’s and children’s sections were recently refreshed with new merchandise. 

This means some designs do not return to the store shelves after being carried for a season, as Lutz said not every single product is meant to be perpetual. But some classic items will likely never leave. 

“There are some items — like the Champion white hooded sweatshirt with ‘Lehigh’ in brown and the brown-hooded sweatshirt with ‘Lehigh’ in white — that you will never see in clearance because it’s always going to come back into stock since it’s so popular,” Lutz said.

The store also carries one-off apparel items that are not initially planned to return to the store. However, Lutz said if an item turns out to be popular, she may attempt to restock it. 

Oyu-Erdene Ankhbayar, ‘26, an employee at The Lehigh Store, said most bookstore visitors and customers include incoming and current students, parents and alumni. 

“The ones I remember most are the alumni because I love listening to their stories,” Ankhbayar said.

Lutz said what makes curating merchandise for Lehigh special is not Lehigh’s size, but rather, Lehigh’s fanaticism. 

She said she often receives calls from alumni looking for merchandise, and she said they feel a great sense of pride in indicating their alumni status and class year. 

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