From Field to Fashion

February 2022

Athlete-owned and Fronted Brands Are On The Rise

Over recent years some athletes have carried their success off the field and leveraged their star status to setup their own lifestyle brands ranging from leisure to luxury. While some have collaborated with existing labels, others have chosen to start from scratch. The business is built from the ground up, starring the sports personality.

Here, Alex Ingildsen CCO at LTP Group and designer/trend forecaster Chantell Fenton discuss what makes these brands successful and their potential to disrupt the traditional retail model. Ingildsen states

“Celebrity or entrepreneur, it always starts with great product. Brands need authenticity, credibility, and quality to thrive”

Brady Brand, image source

Why Celebrity Brands Sell

Celebrity marketing is nothing new. Actors, models and athletes have always been the face of the brands but in recent years it’s become much more than marketing, often the celebrity contributes to all aspects of the business including product design. Also armed with social media, this is a powerful proposition. Vogue confirms

“Celebrity-owned and affiliated labels like Yeezy have recorded significantly faster growth rates than even the most acclaimed non-celebrity brands.”

With global recognition and dedicated audiences, the celebrities committed and coveted fans become the brands first customers. To put this into context Kanye West has 11 million followers on Instagram alone, making marketing, customer acquisition and retention easier for the rapper’s fashion brand Yeezy. Kanye West's latest addition to his Adidas footwear collection, the Yeezy 450s, which are said to boast an 'alien-like' silhouette – sold out in less than a minute. The unique design was a factor in this styles success.

Yeezy, image source

Another example of this is Jordan. Launched by legendary basketball player Michael Jordan in partnership with Nike in 1984. The Air Jordan was born. According to his agent David Falk, “the upstart” Nike expected to sell shoes worth US$3 million by the end of the initial four years but sales dwarfed this figure. The brand went on to earn a whopping US$126 million in the first year. As a mark of that success all Air Jordans launched since 1986 have the iconic logo of Jordan leaping in the air with a basketball instead of Nike’s own swoosh. Furthermore, in 1997 Nike turn Jordan into a sub-brand.

Jordan, image source

The Power Of Authenticity

In the activewear category, athletes specifically, have a leg up when it comes to introducing namesake lines, given their global fan base and level of authenticity in the sporting arena. Ingildsen states

“It’s a combination of a dedicated fan base, the right product and a strong business strategy”

Take the recent Brady Brand launch as a prime example, described as for athletes by athletes. The NFL star and seven time Super Bowl winner with both the New England Patriots and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tom Brady recently launched his namesake brand. The apparel line is based on the concept of elevated athleisure, featuring garments for both casual wear and training. The collection features flattering silhouettes, bonded seams, high-spec fabrics with thermoregulation and clever construction for enhanced movement. The brand aims to take pro sports level innovation and engineering to create a system of clothing that performs from active-to-everyday.

Brady Brand, image source

Aycane also embodies an authentic strategy, the brand say they ask founder, Peter Forsberg the legendary former professional ice hockey player “would you wear it?” When he says yes, the brand launch the product to their hockey family.

Aycane, image source

Product is King

Although a celebrity/athlete can bring exposure to a brand this is no guarantee for success, the product must be the hero. Gold-standard quality is a non-negotiable.

CHPT3, created by former professional cyclist and superstar David Millar aims to deliver technical cycling clothing to be seen in. Based in performance, existing in style the collection takes all the latest innovations from professional cycling and sets them in a fashion context. According to the CHPT3, Millar states

“I was, in a way, rebelling against the lightweight simplicity, sometimes expendable quality, & often terrible surface design of the race wear. I wanted the clothing to keep, if not better the race tech, yet be over-engineered in order to feel more luxurious & look more structured and, to a degree, tailored.”

CHPT3, image source

Game-changing garments are key. Former No. 1 and seven-time Grand-Slam singles champion in women's tennis, Venus Williams instills her iconic style into her brands collection. Many pieces in the EleVen collection have a strong connection to her tennis roots.

EleVen by Venus Williams, image source

Choosing The Right Manufacturing Partner is Key

Athletes can’t do it alone, many of the most successful brands employ experienced partners to offer expertise and share propriety knowledge. An experienced manufacturer will offer guidance in terms of technical construction and material innovation to drive new and exciting product developments. Understanding the nuances of the category and utilising cutting-edge techniques is key, as sport and fashion fans demand all the latest functional details from their kit. Tap into the supplier’s technical know-how on sustainable solutions for next generation apparel.

About LTP

LTP is a Danish owned garment manufacturer for +60 premium brands within active sportswear, outdoor, athleisure and sustainable fashion. LTP was established in 1991, and is probably the biggest Sport & Outdoor garment manufacturer in Europe with bluesign & GOTS setups in Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine and Vietnam.

LTP consists of two divisions; LTP Garment and LTP Contract Furniture producing in ten fully-owned factories.