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Sports logos as lifestyle/street-wear brands. Can they be successful?

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For some reason we have seen a lot of recent major sport rebrands fall under the category of lifestyle or streetwear branding. I have a few that I can think of listed below with old and new logo (and yes I realize the streetwear aspect goes beyond their primary logo and touches more in how the club is advertised …but logos still added just for illustration purposes)

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I would venture to guess that maybe just because it seems to be a popular aesthetic within popular culture, that the designers and the teams are aiming to "break the brand out" of "traditional sports aesthetics" and have it join "main stream cultural aesthetics."

 

Just my best guess. I am sure there is research somewhere that supports their goal and objectives. Maybe with doubling as a lifestyle/streetwear brand they think they can sell more merch for a larger variety of occasions and thus capitalize on a larger audience?

 

My real question though, is can it be successful? Are they missing the mark and ostracizing their core fan base? Or are these just the growing pains of a new aesthetic busting into the sports scene and it will just take time for people to get used to?

 

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You know how 80s cartoons weren't actually cartoons, but instead 24-minute commercials for toys? I think that's sports branding in the 2020s.

 

Nike and the leagues know that fans will buy whatever the hell teams put out. Nice, ugly, cool, whatever. The diehards will always buy the new jersey and hat and sweatshirt every single season.

 

What I think they're chasing now is the core of people who would otherwise never, ever ever buy sports-branded merchandise. And, to be honest, prior to MLS, that was pretty much me. I always thought sports-branded merchandise was so garish that I would never wear it. But then some of the late 2000s MLS gear, to me, actually looked cool. Not cool for sports, but cool in and of itself. Now I have a closet with about 10 different MLS jerseys from different teams because I think, in general, they're nice aesthetically in and of themselves.


That new CF Montreal logo is a head turner (in apparently Indianapolis too). I could totally see a CF Montreal toque becoming a hot thing in Montreal, the same way this became a hot thing in Seattle for a while:

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(Seriously. That season those hats were uniformly everywhere but also impossible to find.)

 

Merchandising has always been part of pro sports, but I think it's driving far more decision-making than it ever has before. You can only sell 70,000 tickets to a game, but you can sell 7,000,000 knit hats. That's a lot of potential $$$, so you better be casting the widest net. Hence hypebeast gear now, whatever else the next trend is next.

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I wonder if that played a part in the silly patches that are on the Rams jerseys.  People buy stuff all the time just because it has some brand's patch on it (like those winter coats with the FJKLJRMJRM (no idea what the real name is) patch for example.  I wonder if the Rams were thinking that that patch could go on a whole assortment of things, and "Los Angeles Rams" could become a fashion brand name - not just the literal name of the team.  I guess if it's not on anything but the jerseys then the answer is no, but maybe?

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If there's anything that has been taught over the last 40 years, anything can become a "fashion" item.

 

Take, for example, the weird spread of Franklin & Marshall sweatshirts in Europe. It reminds me of the time when every souvenir shop at Quincy Market and downtown Boston had "HARVARD CREW" shirts even though you could go on over to Cambridge and get whatever Harvard gear you could ever want. 

Or how about the arms race amongst rappers to find the most obscure sports jersey to wear in a video? I seem to remember that the Springfield Indians became a thing after Snoop Dogg wore their jersey in 1994. Oh, and need I mention Nelly and Outkast wearing the Rainbow Guts in the early 2000s?

The thing is, if there is an influencer out there in pop media who starts the trend, and if there is a clothing manufacturer who can pivot quickly to meet the demand, then you have a fashion trend. (See Tackla in 1992 for the Olympic hockey jerseys for an example of what happens when you don't pivot.)

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The problem is this is the corporate version of what is "cool" instead of what is actually worn on the street. The Brooklyn nets really have me interested in what a true street influenced uniform could really look like. 

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They already are, to a point. PSG is at its 4th PSG x Jordan collection, and next year will have the Jordan brand on its home kit. They’ve been massive sellers and I can’t see them stopping, even though I find the replacing of the Tour Eiffel with the Jumpman distasteful 

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This has been replicated at a lower scale with the adidas humanrace kits, or the Juventus x Palace collection. As long as they sell, they’re evidently successful, which is why Nike is bringing this collab style over to the NBA with the Knicks Kith jersey.

 

I’m not opposed to team brands branching out into street wear, but I’d prefer they’d do it out of the strength of their own brand and motifs instead of lazy collabs, which only appeal hypebeasts, not fans. The 2018 Nigeria Nike kits and collection were a massive hit and sold out pretty much every item, but the patterns weren’t just slapping a logo of another company on it. And they went further outside of the athletic equipment with South Korea and Nigeria 2020, but still maintained the patterns of the shirt

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