Adidas and Puma eye chances in soccer’s fashion moment

Soccer Football - FIFA Women's World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023 - Final - Spain v England - Stadium Australia, Sydney, Australia - August 20, 2023 Spain fans celebrate after winning the World Cup final REUTERS/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/File Photo

Sportswear companies like Adidas and Puma hope to capitalize on the fashion industry’s recent fascination with soccer to expand their clientele, partly due to the demand generated by the successful Women’s World Cup this past summer.

Clubs are also looking for fresh marketing opportunities as celebrities such as Kim Kardashian have been spotted visiting matches and sporting soccer shirts. Adidas debuted an “exclusively off-pitch” clothing line for a few of the significant clubs it sponsors in September, and one Premiership side has employed a design director to increase the range of clothing it offers.

“The relationship between fashion and football is just getting started,” stated Richard Busby, CEO of BDS Sponsorship, a sponsorship consultant.

The Women’s World Cup demonstrated the enormous unmet demand for women’s soccer-related merchandise: supporters retaliated against Nike for failing to provide replica uniforms for England’s Mary Earps and other competing goalkeepers.

However, Busby added, the trend also appeals to style-conscious enthusiasts of both sexes. “Premiership clubs have a lot of wealthy supporters but very few of the items they sell appeal to them, whether men or women.”

Athens Kallithea, a Greek football team in the second division, is one of the teams redesigning their uniforms. In its advertising campaigns, women are pictured wearing unisex tops with satin skirts, dressed in smart casual attire suitable for dinner.

The collections are meant to appeal to more people than just a team’s typical following.

At a Paris Fashion Week show in October, 20-year-old model Mia Regan wore an Arsenal shirt with a long denim skirt and boots. Kardashian has been spotted sporting vintage Roma and Paris Saint-Germain shirts.

In August, Crystal Palace appointed Kenny Annan-Jonathan as creative director, concentrating on clothing. He is anticipated to enhance the assortment of garments sold by the Premier League team.

HYPE AROUND FOOTBALL CULTURE

Adidas and Puma have long been synonymous with streetwear and pop culture.

But with the German corporations each spending two-thirds of their yearly sponsorship budget on soccer, according to GlobalData research released this month, football’s trendy turn might be profitable.

For Nike, which also spends extensively on basketball and college sports, soccer accounts for 48% of its yearly sponsorship spend, GlobalData found.

“We are experiencing hype around football jerseys and general designs influenced by football culture across streetwear and fashion,” said Puma’s global creative director, Heiko Desens.

Puma is attempting to fuel that frenzy further. Its most recent footwear collaboration with pop star Rihanna’s Fenty brand, which debuted last month, was a pair of trainers modeled after the cleats worn by the late, illustrious Brazilian soccer player Pele.

The launch campaign featured Rihanna inside a giant, deconstructed soccer ball. The shoes, priced at $170 for a silver colorway and $160 for a black and white model, sold out on Puma’s website on the day they were released.

“Puma has a higher sales exposure to women than Adidas or Nike, and the original Rihanna partnership in 2015 was really effective in helping it build strong demand and a lot of credibility with the female consumer,” said Graham Renwick, analyst at Berenberg.

“So with the relaunch of this partnership Puma will be hoping for a similar response.”

Adidas’s apparel range for Arsenal, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Manchester United, and Real Madrid, launched in September, included crop tops and dresses made in jersey knit and featuring more subtle club branding.

“We want to cater to the needs of both the consumer who plays football actively and the consumer who is attracted by football culture,” Adidas said.

High fashion is also getting involved: in May, Italian label Prada collaborated with Adidas on soccer cleats in three colorways, including white, retailing for $595 a pair.

Liverpool and Newcastle United are also seeking to hire creative directors, in a trend that could change the dynamic between the Premiership clubs and their sponsoring brands.

Athens Kallithea and Italy’s Venezia FC have used slick social media campaigns to sell apparel globally despite a smaller fanbase.

“There’s a risk of tension with existing fans whenever you start moving beyond the core culture,” said Athens Kallithea’s president and creative director, Ted Philipakos. He said teams from the Premier League and Bundesliga had contacted him to learn from his strategy.

“It’s a delicate balancing act that requires more nuance and sensibility than many big clubs tend to have,” Philipakos said.

Hi, I'm John, a seasoned sports writer with a passion for football. With over 10 years of experience covering the NFL, I provide in-depth analysis and engaging writing that keeps readers informed and entertained.

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