This German Soccer Team Is Manufacturing Its Own Apparel After Terminating Under Armour Deal
German soccer club FC St. Pauli is known for its commitment to social justice. It even has a set of five principles outlining its belief in social change, responsibility and tolerance far beyond the soccer field.
Don’t let the skull and crossbones logo fool you.
Really practicing what it preaches, St. Pauli just ended its apparel deal with Under Armour after it decided that the American sportswear brand didn’t meet its own sustainability and fair trade standards.
— FC St. Pauli English (@fcstpauli_EN) November 13, 2020
So, sticking to its punk identity, FC St. Pauli is going DIY. Literally. The club started its own apparel manufacturing company called DI! Y, so it can make its own jerseys and, in the future, jerseys for other clubs.
“DI! Y is derived from the term DIY: ‘Do it yourself,” the team’s president Oke Göttlich said, according to Kicker. “That’s exactly what FC St. Pauli is about: Don’t just complain, do better yourself.”
It's not just jerseys, either. It's the entirety of the club's apparel.
"We aren't saying it'll be the most sustainable jersey," St. Pauli’s sales manager Bernd von Geldern said in a club statement. "It'll be the most sustainable teamsport collection, with all 55 products. We'll make everything ourselves, from the socks to the rain jackets. We've already shown it can be done without putting prices up if you do things intelligently when we switched the production of the skull and crossbone shirts to Fairtrade and GOTS. We changed the production sites and fine-tuned other things. We aren't going to use it as an excuse to make everything more expensive. There will be costs involved, but that's our position on the issue. That's also why we hope there'll be imitators who understand that it's not just a football shirt, it's a statement."
The first collection will drop in May 2021, but preorders are going up this December.
FC St. Pauli are breaking new ground by moving production of the club's shirts and teamsport collection in-house.
— FC St. Pauli English (@fcstpauli_EN) November 15, 2020
Von Geldern said the goal is “to produce the most sustainable team sports collection in the world,” according to Kicker. “We want to show that quality, sustainability and fair working conditions do not have to be mutual exclusive, even for performance clothing.”
"This independence and the search for new paths have always distinguished FC St. Pauli,” Göttlich said. “With our own team sports collection, we are consequently continuing to pursue our path of independence.”
As other big-name sportswear companies like Nike have faced criticism over using potential slave labor in China and Under Armour handles its own set of issues in the U.S., going independent makes sense. But still, it’s noteworthy.
St. Pauli hopes that down the road other teams will join in, and they can use a neutral line created by DI! Y.
"We hope the new brand will give us even more independence and more opportunities," club marketing department head Martin Drust said. "We believe we'll be able to do lots of interesting things in the future that will allow even more participation. With this in mind, to do things ourselves now is a really good decision and the correct one."