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Postal Service plans all-weather clothing line: Smart move or desperation?

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“This agreement will put the Postal Service on the cutting edge of functional fashion,” corporate licensing manager Steven Mills said in a statement Tuesday.

“We’re talking all-weather, all-seasonal attire,” says USPS spokesman Roy Betts. “A man’s jacket which could be wired for you to click in your iPod and listen to music, control the volume, and make selections, all from the sleeve of your jacket.”

In other words, the kind of hip athletic/tech/all-season apparel that might appeal to say, a computer-programmer-tech-enthusiast who enjoys listening to Linkin Park on his iPod while snowboarding with his buddies – in a Postal Service-emblazoned jacket, of course.

Besides jackets, the line will include headgear, footwear, and clothing that incorporates smart technology, says Mr. Betts.

“It’s incorporating technology that originated in the military ... and is now available commercially,” he says. “Being able to put wiring in fabric and other material that will allow you to monitor, respond, listen, and connect to your devices.”

(Interestingly, this isn’t the first time the Postal Service introduced a retail line. It rolled out a line of T-shirts, mugs, and neckties in the 1980s, which were sold in post offices until Congress complained that it was competing with private businesses.)

This time, perhaps recognizing its place in the natural order of things, the Postal Service is staying out of the actual designing of the clothing. Wahconah Group will design, manufacture, and place clothing in retail locations, including department and specialty stores, while the Postal Service will simply license its name, and hopefully, collect royalty fees.

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