Rowing Blazers Plans Second Release of Pierce & Pierce Banker Bag
Patrick Bateman. Timothy Price. Sherman McCoy. Any of them might own a navy canvas bag emblazoned with the logo of hallowed investment bank Pierce & Pierce. But of course, none of them exist.
That didn’t stop boutique clothier Rowing Blazers from offering a limited edition of 100 such banker bags on a sleepy Thursday in late August. Within two hours of the noon launch, the bags were completely sold out.
“I thought they would sell out within a couple of days, but it turned out to be a couple of hours,” Rowing Blazers Founder and Creative Director Jack Carlson told IPO Edge in an interview.
The inspiration for the banker bag dates back to a surprise Christmas gift from Mr. Carlson’s sister. “My sister worked at Goldman Sachs and gave me a Goldman bag as a Christmas gift,” he said. “I thought ‘that’s a nice bag’ and didn’t think much of it but I began using it all the time.”
The bags are made in New Canaan, Connecticut through a partnership with Warden Brooks, which produces the authentic Wall Street duffle bags for actual companies. Indeed, the Pierce & Pierce bag has the same color scheme as a Goldman Sachs bag made by Warden Brooks.
The bags are a staple on the Street, with other bulge-bracket banks like Morgan Stanley and Barclays issuing similar gear to bright-eyed investment banking analysts. They’re also standard issue at Deutsche Bank, formerly a bulge-bracket firm, along with boutiques like Lazard and Moelis.
Pierce & Pierce is the fictional workplace of serial killer Patrick Bateman in Bret Easton Ellis’s seminal novel American Psycho, a satire published in 1991 that documents 1980s Wall Street greed and materialism. The book later became a film directed by Mary Harron which has become a cult classic and a favorite among the finance set.
P&P wasn’t created by Mr. Ellis. It was in fact Tom Wolfe’s 1987 Bonfire of the Vanities where the firm’s name first appeared. The book’s hero, Sherman McCoy, is a wealthy bond trader at P&P where he is described as a “Master of the Universe.”
Wall Street humor, including references to American Psycho and banker wardrobe, flourishes on social media platforms like Facebook’s Instagram. Profiles including Arbitrage Andy, Litquidity, and Levered Lloyd command audiences of tens of thousands of followers seeking finance satire.
Mr. Carlson told IPO Edge he plans to reissue the bag later this year. It was originally released alongside a few other finance-inspired items, including a t-shirt featuring a photo of traumatized traders drowning their sorrows after the crash of 1987.
Rowing Blazers itself was first a book, also called Rowing Blazers. In the book, Mr. Carlson documents the origins of blazers as part of wardrobe worn by British college rowing teams. In his research, Mr. Carlson also learned about “bizarre traditions” such as fights among Dutch rowers, who would pull on blazer lapels, often ripping them. “You’d see a Dutch guy after a fight walking around with half his blazer missing,” he said.
Eventually, Mr. Carlson began to work on turning the book into a brand, starting with the design of a blazer. “We tried to replicate everything,” he said. “For example, the blazer shouldn’t have a vent in the back. That’s for riding (horses).”
Mr. Carlson also took interest in traditional rowing clothing after his experience as a member of the U.S. National Rowing Team, where he was a coxswain, the team member responsible for steering and coordinating rowing rhythm. He also coached a crew team at Oxford while he was earning a PhD in Archaeology.
Rowing Blazers launched as a clothier in May 2017. While the original inspiration was rowing, the brand also incorporates preppie influences along with some of Mr. Carlson’s own interests like a t-shirt featuring his favorite pizza joint.
Rowing Blazers is a ways off from going public. It initially raised $750,000 from friends and family and is currently in the late stages of a seed round for $2.6 million, Mr. Carlson said.
John Jannarone, Editor-in-Chief