These days sport is big business. The commercial side of sport is now more lucrative than ever, and high profile athletes can earn huge sums of money simply by endorsing one of the big brands like Puma, Nike or Adidas. Typically, the stars of world sport are young, attractive and physically fit, and that’s one reason sports brands have evolved into fashion brands. Wearing branded sportswear projects an image of being cool, vibrant and fit, so it’s not surprising that it has such popular appeal. Often, the appeal of branded sportswear is simply that it is associated with a global icon like David Beckham or Usain Bolt. Sports brands are always looking for ways of making their clothing as versatile as possible, so that it’s as cool to wear when out with friends as it is when playing sport.
Sport as fashion
In simple terms, these days sport is fashion. It is harder than ever to draw a line between the two. Playing sport and being ‘sporty’ are more fashionable than ever, and the fashion industry increasingly takes inspiration from the world of sport. Not without good reason was Stella McCartney commissioned to design Team GB’s clothing for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the first time in history a fashion designer had been asked to do so. Sports brands are always trying to find innovative ways to be fashionable, so it isn’t surprising they quickly gain mainstream appeal. And on top of that, the target audience of sports brands is very similar to that of the fashion world.
The case of athletics is an interesting one because as a sport it is not nearly as popular around the world as football, yet several of the sports brands associated with it are highly fashionable too. Athletics is of course the sport of Usain Bolt, possibly the biggest name in world sport today. Putting a value on his exclusive endorsement of Puma clothing would be almost impossible, but there’s no doubt that Puma is now a fashion brand as much as a sports brand. Other brands simply cannot compete with the profile or commercial appeal of someone like Usain Bolt.
Picture: Alexander Yakovlev – Fotolia