If you thought this University was known for academia – think again. Oxford has launched a Harry Potter-inspired interiors range in the hope of attracting wealthy Chinese consumers and former students.
Items in the range – which claim to tell “the history of this prestigious University” –include a striped washbag and a “Rhodes drawstring tote”.
But the University’s own dons have described the range as “vulgar” and “meretricious”.
Professor Peter Oppenheimer, an emeritus fellow at Christ Church, told The Daily Telegraph: “Words fail me. It is vulgar, inappropriate and unauthorised by the university at large.
“This does absolutely nothing for the university other than cheapen its image. It sounds ghastly.”
He wasn’t impressed that the name of his college had been misspelled in the marketing material either.
The range – launched at an interiors trade show in Paris last month – is produced by Halo Licensing, a Hong Kong based firm that also produces goods for interiors designer Kelly Hoppen and men’s magazine Esquire.
The company’s managing director said he hoped to introduce thebrand in the “home and lifestyle” sector.
The interiors include a “tutor’s chair” – which retails at a pricey £870 – complete with a university crest.
Diane Purkiss, an English tutor at Keble College, also told the Telegraph: “My own chair is an ergonomic swivel chair, I’m afraid, as I often teach for eight hours at a stretch.
“We are perhaps the most famous and prestigious university brand name in the world [but] I think it might be time for a note of caution to be sounded about selling that brand too freely and too meretriciously.”
Oxford Limited – the university’s commercial arm – is in charge of licensing deals and manages Oxford’s logo rights. This year it has struck deals with other foreign companies, including an Indian firm that manages products for the Teletubbies and Dancing with the Stars.
A university spokesperson said: “We work with members of the University and individual colleges to ensure that only product categories that can be demonstrated to be relevant to the University, its history or accomplishments are licensed and the sale of each licensed product generates a royalty for the University.”