Homefield Apparel, a premium collegiate clothing brand, hooks sports fans with nostalgia. The thoughtful and vintage-inspired designs, which are often gleaned from university archives and old yearbooks, are how you can easily spot a Connor Hitchcock, BS’16, original.
In 2018, Hitchcock, along with his wife, Christa, founded Homefield—a spinoff of one of the IU alum’s previous ventures he called Hoosier Proud, a side hustle that he started while pursuing a Kelley School of Business degree. He launched the brand with Indiana-themed stickers that he eventually sold to more than 30 retailers across the state, including Greetings on Kirkwood in Bloomington.
Building on the popularity of the stickers, Hitchcock decided to experiment with T-shirt printing—and the pivot paid off.
In 2016, as a senior at IU Bloomington, Hitchcock sold several hundred units of a T-shirt that read, “The Kick Was Good.” This was following the 2015 Pinstripe Bowl, where kicker Griffin Oakes, BS’17, missed a potential game-tying field goal against Duke. The game replay, however, led many Hoosier football fans to believe that “the kick was good.”
“It wasn’t a good design, but it bought in on that inside joke. It got picked up in the IU Twitter-sphere and sold a lot,” Hitchcock recalls.
A year later, he secured a licensing agreement with IU, along with several other Indiana schools, which led to the rebranding of his growing apparel business.
Today, Homefield creates vintage collegiate swag for more than 150 colleges and universities across the country.
“[IU] is our No. 1 selling school, even though it’s not our biggest school. [We’ve] had such buy-in from the community, being based here in Indiana,” says Hitchcock, adding that their bestselling item is the IU Bison hoodie. “We always give special attention to our IU collection.”
After being called the “hottest apparel company in college sports” by The Athletic, the IU Angel Network—an IU Ventures program that connects IU-affiliated investors with IU entrepreneurs—decided to invest.
“Building our business here in Indiana, which is the epicenter of college sports, and partnering with the passionate alumni and fans of the IU Angel Network, makes absolutely perfect sense,” Hitchcock said in a press release.
Jason Whitney, BS’00, chief venture officer of IU Ventures and executive director of the IU Angel Network, added: “Homefield is a prime example of the kind of company IU Ventures and its growing network of angel investors are excited to support. From day one, Connor identified a gap in the collegiate apparel market by providing designs for underserved colleges and universities, which, in turn, enabled his company to gain enough traction to get contracts with larger schools.”
Homefield hopes to become a household name in the collegiate clothing space by expanding to new product categories and continually refreshing their collections.
“We’ve been fortunate to have a lot of early success with the brand. And only being four and a half years in, we’re having a fun time doing this,” says Hitchcock. “I taught a class in the IU Media School last semester and four of the 30 [students] had heard of Homefield, which shows we have a lot of work to go still in building brand equity in the Indiana fan base.”