ASHLAND — The 2023 spring semester and commencement have come and gone, but the Ashland University Campus Store is as busy as ever, according to Amanda Brown, director of the campus store.
Normally a quieter time of year for the store, its Eagle Custom Design screen-printing machine is running red-hot—or more like purple-and-gold hot—ever since an AU T-shirt was spotted being worn by a character on the hit Apple TV+ show “Ted Lasso.”
When viewers noticed journalist Trent Crimm, played by veteran actor James Lance, sporting a familiar-looking AU T-shirt under his blazer during the seventh episode of season three, released April 26, Brown’s phone started blowing up. A fan of the show, Brown quickly verified with her own eyes that what they were seeing was indeed an authentic AU T-shirt and sprang into action.
Staff at the store replicated the design, Brown added the shirt to its online store, ashlandbookstore.com, with the slogan “as seen on Ted Lasso” and the orders started rolling in from eager students, faculty and alumni. Once all of the supplies were on hand May 1, the printing and shipping commenced. Now, it’s just a matter of keeping up with all of the requests.
In less than two weeks’ time, the AU Campus Store has processed more than 500 orders and shipped the T-shirts all across the United States and even one to New Zealand. They haven’t quite reached all 50 states yet, but it may just be a matter of time. They have been sent to Alaska and Hawaii, as well as Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Utah and throughout the eastern and southern parts of the country.
“I’m excited we’ve been able to jump on it. Within an hour of knowing about it, we were up and running. And, the following Monday online purchases started and they haven’t stopped since then,” said Brown, who holds two degrees from AU – a bachelor’s in accounting and an MBA in project management.
The shirt was originally designed in May 2017 by Jill Hiltner, a 27-year employee of AU and current assistant manager of the campus store. Two hundred eighty-eight were printed for Summer Orientation that year for new students and their families and they sold out.
Little did Hiltner know that her design would catch the eye of a London-based costume designer six years later. Brown reached out to Jacky Levy, the show’s costume designer, who revealed she found the shirt at a vintage shop on Brick Lane in London and simply “loved the color and everything about it for Trent Crimm’s wardrobe. It just seemed to suit his style so well.”
Hiltner remains unfazed by her 15 minutes of fame. In fact, she has not yet seen the show, (other than the clips with her designed shirt in it), but does plan to start watching it soon. She is simply grateful to have helped generate some buzz for a place that she loves.
“I think it’s great for the university. That’s the main thing,” she said.
Brown agrees and added that she can even envision Trent Crimm having graduated from AU’s journalism and digital media program.
“It’s cool to see (the shirt) represented by someone in a skilled trade. Trent is very eloquent and wrote for The Independent, a prestigious newspaper. I could see it in the character’s backstory that he could’ve studied journalism here,” said Brown.
Brown also thinks it is appropriate for the AU shirt to have landed on a feel-good show, such as “Ted Lasso.”
“They discuss real issues, but in a light-hearted way. When I think of Ted Lasso, I think of those popular posters with inspirational quotes from elementary school. They address struggles in a way that is very relatable. And, it’s really funny,” she said.
“Ted Lasso,” starring Jason Sudeikis as an American football coach leading a British soccer team, has won 11 Emmy® awards, including for Outstanding Comedy Series in 2021 and 2022.