Soccer has always been about self-expression.
On the field, you do it with your feet. Off the field, it’s about what’s on your feet.
Pair this truism with current millennial sensibilities (specifically, their penchant for “being real”) and it’s no surprise that soccer is fast becoming the sport of choice for this new generation.
Major League Soccer, for one, must have seen this coming. In recent years, they’ve loosened their approach to licensing and allowed many more brands into their inner circle. Most interestingly, this opened the door for edgier, indie brands to align themselves with our domestic soccer league. Labels like ’47 Brand, Mitchell & Ness and Reigning Champ (among many others) have gone on to launch fashion-centric pieces for supporters to wear with Club badges and mantras proudly displayed. Examples below:
Some Clubs are taking this a step further, pairing their Club brand specifically with locally relevant artists and street wear labels. The LA Galaxy are on the front foot here, proven by their recent collaborations with Slick, “Kicks to the Pitch” and Workin’ Co. Develop a series of limited edition goods (in this case, “handmade in LA”), and you’ve got a great recipe for engaging the millennial fan base.
Beyond licensed products, it’s worth keeping an eye on emerging brands being built specifically by supporters groups. No Pity, a soccer-credible label in Portland designed specifically for Timbers fans by Timbers fans, has thrived in recent years. The gear may be edgier than your typical fan tees, hoodies, caps and accessories, but it’s in high demand and is filling a white space for millennial fans not currently served by more traditional licensees.
Whether you prefer to work with a licensed partner, or a more organic label, one thing is abundantly clear: the trend provides a series of new ways in which corporate brands may add value to a fan’s experience. It’s an opportunity we’ve noted, and one that we continually monitor for our clients.