Purdue working to produce shirt seen during surprise cameo on ‘Stranger Things’

Screen capture of "Stranger Things" via Netflix

HAWKINS, Ind. – Purdue University is working on a shirt inspired by Stranger Things after a surprise cameo in the new season of the Netflix hit.

During the first episode of Stranger Things 3, Steve Harrington (Joe Keery), working at ice cream shop Scoops Ahoy, tries to chat up two young women. One of them is wearing a Purdue shirt.

The show, of course, is set in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana, and includes a bevy of Indiana references (the Indianapolis 500, the Indianapolis Star and Purdue are just a few of them) in addition to the show’s trademark ‘80s pop culture references.

Erika Austin, who manages trademarks and licensing for the university, said the Purdue shirt came as a surprise.

“We were as surprised as everyone to see Purdue represented on the actress’ shirt during the airing of Stranger Things,” she said via email. “It has been a very exciting and proud moment for the Boilermaker nation to see Purdue represented on the show which has created a lot of great conversation on social media.”

Austin said the response to the shirt has been phenomenal. The university is working to produce a replica shirt and make it available for sale as quickly as possible.

“As you can imagine, since the airing of the show, the interest to purchase the shirt has grown quickly with our fans,” Austin said.

The show’s throwback setting is posing some challenges.

“With the show setting being in the ‘80s, it is taking a little bit longer finding the style of garment of a short-sleeve ringer sweatshirt,” Austin said. “If we can’t find an existing garment blank, then a licensee will have to make the garment from scratch which will delay placement at retail locations.”

Austin said, once it’s ready, the shirt will be available at the Purdue Team Store (locations at the Purdue Memorial Union and Ross-Ade Stadium) and online at purdueteamstore.com.

The overwhelming social media response to the Purdue shirt put things in motion. Austin herself was initially befuddled by Purdue’s appearance on the show.

“Of course, my immediate reaction was, ‘Where did that shirt come from?’ as I hadn’t seen it before from our Purdue licensees or local retailers. After that, I quickly switched to, ‘We have to get that shirt to our fans.’”

Purdue Licensing then turned to Twitter to gauge fan interest—and discovered there was plenty of demand.

The university is in contact with Netflix to learn more about the circumstances that resulted in Purdue’s Stranger Things cameo, Austin said.

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