IN A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN
Chen said the quality can also be reflective of the level of commitment of the fan. “In general, the quality expectations for these products are going to be very high as fans and players want to be proud of any apparel that represents their team,” he pointed out. This does not necessarily mean all fan apparel must be of consistently high quality. When it comes to high school or college promotions, areas where the biggest apparel providers may not focus attention, there will be more latitude for the garments. “In reality, there is a wide range of quality among team products in the marketplace,” Chen commented. Dudley also noted the disparity. “You’ll see more high-end jackets and jerseys,” he said, including replica players’ jerseys at professional events.
As far as style is concerned, men’s wear continues to dominate. Chen noted, “The market for team and fan wear is predominately geared toward men. However, availability of women’s-specific styles and cuts has been growing.” Dudley further stressed this point, stating that only a few years ago there was “virtually nothing” in this market styled for women, but now the market has shifted. He said 65 to 75 percent of the market is still unisex or male oriented, but that leaves 25 to 35 percent as women’s wear. This most likely represents the highest percentage distributors will see in the near future for this market. Some companies are beginning to reduce their women’s lines, according to Dudley
Fan apparel provides a wide range of opportunities for sales. Almost any piece of clothing has the ability to become a garment for promoting a team. Chen mentioned socks as the most obscure piece of apparel he has seen decorated for a team, but among sports aficionados lucky underwear also seems to be a strong thematic element.