(E)SPORT THE LATEST FASHION
Big-name brands enter the esports market
The world of electronic sports (or esports) continues to grow in popularity each year. Currently, 194 million people across the globe (79% of whom are under 35) are expected to watch esports in 2019. Athletic apparel brands want in on this market and are already breaking through via partnerships and campaigns, allowing esports players to experience the kind of treatment professional athletes get and giving fans more touchpoints for the competitive gaming experience they love.
Nike officially entered the world of esports earlier this year by signing its first major sponsorship with the League of Legends Pro League in China. With this deal, Nike will be providing all 16 of the league’s teams with branded esports apparel, including sneakers, clothing, and professional jerseys. The official team jerseys were recently revealed ahead of the League of Legends World Championships in Paris just last month. While this is Nike’s first major sponsorship deal in the esports world, the brand did create a marketing campaign with Lebron James and esports player Jian “Uzi” Zihao in 2018.
Fortnite superstar Tyler “Ninja” Blevins recently signed a multi-year partnership with Adidas. Details of the collab, dubbed Time In, have not been announced yet, but Adidas has teased that potential products could exist “in either the physical or virtual world.” Time In’s landing page currently only features a video of Ninja and a promise to bring the cultures of gaming and fashion together. Teaming up with Adidas is far from Ninja’s first partnership: he’s also had campaigns with Samsung and is sponsored by Red Bull.
Puma became the latest big-name brand to take the leap into the esports world with its multi-year partnership with Cloud9, an American professional esports organization based in Los Angeles. The deal consists of an apparel collection for gamers with sizing ranging from XS-3XL. The collection’s prices are affordable, with everything retailing between $25-$75. All items can be purchased online. This collection comes after Puma signed a sponsorship deal with Cloud9 at the beginning of this year, stating that the brand will provide official shirts and pants for Cloud9’s players.