Sports and fashion won big together this year – News

When the team is the brand and the brand is the star, it’s one big opportunity

Serena Williams opens the runway show at the Vogue World event in New York on September 12, 2022. When the team is the brand, the brand is the star, and the fans are the consumer, it all blends into one huge business opportunity for him. (Nina Westervelt/New York Times)

Vanessa Freedman

Release: Monday, December 26, 2022 12:46

Last Sunday, when Lionel Messi and the Argentina national team lifted the World Cup trophy on the Qatar podium, the general mood was one of joy and admiration. Raising eyebrows.

Why did the gold statuette arrive on the field in a steel-tone Louis Vuitton trunk with its logo?

Before the finals, more than 150 designers from 50 countries took part, for the same reason Qatar hosted what has been described as “the world’s biggest fashion show”, the former French Vogue editor ‘s Karine Roitfeld coordinated everything.

When it comes to cultural influences, fashion and sports increasingly work together to power the game.

Both provide a common language that is spoken around the world and communicated instantly. And in 2022, this relationship has reached new levels with the tangle of social media, the growth of influencer and sneaker culture, and the shift in cultural consumption fueled by the pandemic. Something more substantive is happening. Connections are everywhere when you start looking.

About a week before the World Cup kicked off, the New York Knicks announced the appointment of Kith founder and “legend of streetwear culture” Ronnie Feig as its first creative director.

Just weeks earlier, the Arizona Coyotes of the National Hockey League announced the appointment of Rhuigi Villaseñor, founder of Los Angeles menswear line Rhude, as creative strategist. Swiss luxury brand Bally.

The news came after Serena Williams announced she would be retiring from tennis and hitting the runway as the opening model for the Vogue World show. Tom Brady introduces Brady, a lifestyle casual wear brand created with Jens Grede (the man behind the Kim Kardashian Skims line) and designed by former Public School label Dao-Yi Chow. Track and field athlete Allyson Felix introduces her brand Cyche. Ferrari will hold its first fashion show on the official schedule for his week of Milan Fashion Week. Michael Jordan’s brand has chosen to open his first concept store in Milan instead of Chicago.

As to why, “This is the fashion capital of the world,” brand president Craig Williams told WWD. “People come here because they are thinking about what is new and what is going to be trendy in a year or two. The impact we want to have on our consumers in industry, streetwear and even culture. When I think about it, there is a lot of synergy between our aspirations and everything Milan stands for.”

Mr Grede said: they converged. “

language of influence

Villasenor said the deal with Coyote “dresses the team at both street and formal levels, from the campaign, to the arena’s color palette, drinks, lighting, logos and designs, including outside of stereotypical merchandise programs.” up.

And just as he’s trying to reinvent Barry, he’s added some flashy sparkle to Alpine’s ephemera. said Villasenor.

It’s the kind of fashion talk traditionally found in a design atelier, not a weight room.But New York Islanders owner Scott Malkin said that’s not the only connection. , also the founder of Value Retail, a group of luxury outlet malls in Europe and Asia, built a new shopping village next to the recently opened UBS Arena in Elmont, New York this year.

Both sports and fashion are “creative energies coupled with execution”, often not easily fitting into rigid structures, and are about managing talents that, like society, must evolve. He said he can deal with a constant schedule with people, have enormous mental impact and influence, and loves to talk about “curating experiences.”

Both are about branding on a macro and micro level.

After all, what is a brand but a name, a logo or a collection of values ​​contained in an object? A symbol that stands for tradition, know-how and beauty. Or it could be all adjectives attached to an athlete: excellence, aspiration, power, grace, activism. It can also mean handbags and sneakers.

“People really care about what the brand stands for,” said Tory Burch, who merged the Mainline and Sport lines to create this year’s Billie Jean King Cup winner’s jacket. , the brand is very focused on building community.”

One way to do this is by sharing live experiences that create a deep emotional connection. Another way is through individuals who represent the citizens of the brand. It’s a virtuous circle of group identities, flying their flags of allegiance. It’s not just flags, it’s clothes.

This is how the whole concept of so-called brand ambassadors began: celebrities became the personification of a brand and a shortcut to knowing what it stood for. thought; sometimes, like Kanye West, there are surprises.)

But while the idea may have originated with traditional Hollywood stars and starlets, it’s now moved entirely to sports.From basketball and tennis to soccer, football and even baseball, Joc Pederson (now with the San Francisco Giants) and his pearls, and hockey.

“Anyone who has a deep level of understanding of who they are and what they present to the world attracts influence,” said Jerry Lorenzo, founder of Fear of God. With Adidas, which will be introduced in 2023.

And clout sells products.

Branding for everyone

Ever since Rene Lacoste put a small alligator on the left chest of his polo shirt and Stan Smith named his kicks after him, sports stars have long understood the role of image-making in expanding and improving their fame. Athletes like fur-clad Joe Namath used the fascination potential of the camera to hone their on-field reputations in the television era.

But Mark Shapiro, president of Endeavor, which owns multiple fashion weeks and ultimate fighting championships, modeling and athletic representation divisions around the world, “changed everything when Michael Jordan started attending press conferences.” said. I was completely dressed up in a bespoke suit and tie. “

Even before Jordan began his line with Nike, he understood the power of clothing that complements play, emulated by David Beckham, Odell Beckham Jr., Venus Williams, Russell Westbrook, Roger Federer and Naomi. I created a model with Osaka, to name a few. As Brady said in an email, “He paved the way for most of us.”

Players found that branding themselves through what they wore extended their performance beyond the action and “opened the door to the next step in their career.” They gave themselves a platform independent profile.

So, draft day was born, which worked like a runway show, with rookie athletes taking advantage of their moment in the spotlight to brand themselves even before joining a team. A game-day walk from the car to the locker room turned into a daily photo shoot, spawning his LeagueFits, BlitzFits, Slam x Kicks, and other Instagram accounts that track athletes’ fashion choices.

“In the age of social media, Instagram moving products and always-on cameras create legends in the field,” says Shapiro. “But the waking moment is an image-making performance of what we’re wearing, the products we’re using, and how it’s being shared.”

The rise of social media has bypassed the old power structures of fame and enabled direct communication between stars (and would-be stars) and fans, but has also led to a fragmented audience. . As Ben Affleck said at the New York Times Dealbook conference about his new production company, Artists Equity, which he founded with Matt Damon, the reason there aren’t more mega movie stars is the actors’ charisma and talent. Audiences are becoming niche and divided into increasingly specific interest groups, not because they are inferior.

Greed agreed. Celebrity now available purely through social media “may be the only unfair advantage in consumer culture,” he said. “Skims benefited from it, and so did Brady. He’s a company, just like Kim Kardashian is a company.”

Brady has 13 million Instagram followers. Beckham, 76.4 million. and Williams, 16 million.

“People, especially young people, can find inspiration more broadly and more easily from sports heroes and fashion brands than from other industries,” says Malkin. And both sides want to benefit.

trophy lifestyle

“Individuals are now intellectual property,” Artist Equity backer Jerry Cardinale said at the DealBook conference. It’s probably no coincidence that their production company’s first film to focus on is The Birth of the Air He Jordan Brand.

Grede said the direct-to-consumer model has changed the landscape forever in terms of individual opportunities. In the past, athletes and celebrities relied on one of the few sports clothing mega-brands to distribute their lines. not anymore. Now they can profit from their own brand assets instead of renting them out to other brands like Nike and Dior.

At the same time, “the team has caught on to the idea that the brand is also the star,” says Grede. “And the team is a lifestyle brand.” “Lifestyle” is an operational word. That’s why Malkin created his Isles Lab. The store features premium hockey merchandise devised by a team with roots in brands like Burberry, including the $995 cashmere Islanders blanket and his $2,500 varsity jacket.

The team has a ready-made fanbase, and the community gravitates towards promoting its identity and membership through merchandise. there is no. In fact, with tickets to the big games so expensive and sitting courtside becoming a symbol of luxury, it’s surprising that garments that symbolize loyalty haven’t kept up.

That’s why Clara Wu Tsai, owner of the Brooklyn Nets and New York Liberty, who attended Villasenor’s Barry debut, said his appointment with the Coyotes and Feig’s appointment with the Knicks would be trending rather than strange. Probability is high.

And if teams and athletes are looking to luxury as a strategic model, it’s only a matter of time before Luxury begins to take notice of teams and expand the brand into the sports arena in a more entrenched way. As well as the owner.

In fact, rumors circulated this year that LVMH is interested in buying AC Milan. LVMH denied it, but you can understand where the idea came from. Think synergy. LVMH could place his one of its own product-filled luxury hotels next to the stadium. That designer can create a special collaboration just for your team. The designer was able to fill the front row and marketing his campaign with his LVMH athletes.

“Definitely, they could own a franchise,” Grede said.

This article was originally published in The New York Times.

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