Senior Marketing Manager
In a world where the lines between reality and the virtual are blurring, one industry stands at the forefront of this digital revolution: esports. And in the heart of this rapidly growing world, one factor is increasingly being recognized as crucial – brand partnerships.
The Origin of Esports Apparel
In the earliest days of esports, teams turned to jerseys and shirts as a canvas to display brand logos during live events and on stage. While some jerseys sported logos from famous brands like Adidas, these teams weren't directly affiliated with these giants; they merely donned these branded jerseys, shirts, or hoodies for their appearance, inadvertently offering these apparel brands valuable exposure. However, as the esports industry matured and embraced more professional brand partnerships and sponsorships, a significant shift occurred. Teams began favoring non-branded apparel collections to open up ad space for other partners. This humble beginning marked the inception of a fascinating journey that would transform the relationship between apparel brands and esports.
Image Credit: SK Gaming
The Fashion Evolution
Gone are the days when esports teams sported simple branded tees. As the industry gained momentum in the late 2000s, clothing brand partnerships emerged, transforming the esports landscape. Today, brands like PUMA, Nike, adidas, and Champion have taken the stage, not only bringing in substantial revenue but also shaping brand identities and connecting fans to their favorite teams. These partnerships have become the bridge that connects the world of traditional sports with esports, elevating its mainstream acceptance.
Esports' meteoric rise in popularity, particularly among a younger, tech-savvy demographic, has piqued the interest of luxury brands. Iconic names such as Louis Vuitton and Gucci have already entered this thriving market, offering unique team apparel and accessories, and even designing virtual in-game items. This trend is not only transforming the world of entertainment but also enabling luxury brands to engage with a new generation of potential customers. The union of luxury brands and esports is an evolution that's captivating, and it's transforming both the fashion and gaming industries.
Examples of Major Apparel Sponsorship Moves:
Adidas x Team Vitality (2017):
Image Credit: Team Vitality
Louis Vuitton x League of Legends (2019):
Image Credit: League of Legends
Ralph Lauren x G2 (2021):
Image Credit: G2 Esports
In conclusion, what started as basic team-branded gear has now evolved into a critical marketing strategy in esports. Apparel and clothing brand partnerships are no longer just fashion statements; they have become an integral part of the esports ecosystem. Looking ahead, the horizon is limitless, with the industry set to expand even further in the future. A question worth pondering, is which brands are missing the boat in our vibrant industry, as the esports and gaming ecosystem continues to redefine the boundaries of what's possible.