SBD/June 11, 2014/Marketing and Sponsorship

Sporting K.C. Continues Fashion-Forward Trend By Selling Player's Clothing Line At Stadium

Sporting KC sold about half its inventory in the first game the shirts were available
Sporting K.C. D Aurelien Collin’s high-end clothing line is being sold by the MLS club this season at Sporting Park, in the latest fashion-forward move by the franchise. Sporting K.C. VP/Stadium & Brand Revenue John Moncke said that this is the first time he can think of in MLS -- or any other league, for that matter -- that a team has picked up a player’s fashionwear to sell at its team shop. Collin co-founded his AC78 line just under a year ago with clothier Tom Paolini. When the company was formed, Moncke was already working with Collin at trying to form a partnership, but the deal did not come together until last month. Moncke did not want to try to sell high-end suits at a soccer game, so he waited until this season, when AC78 created more fan-friendly V-necks. Moncke said that he also wanted to bring in V-necks because they are a staple of Collin’s personal style, which he shows off frequently on social media. The shirts, which were specially made in the club’s colors, come in two different styles for both men and women and retail for $35. For its initial test order from AC78, the club bought an amount of shirts in the hundreds and sold about half of its inventory in the first game they were available. Collin was not in uniform for that match because he was injured, so he appeared at one of the retail locations during the game to drive sales. The club also offered an autographed player card from Collin for everyone who bought an AC78 item.

SARTORIAL FOCUS: Moncke decided to forego an attempt to make AC78 a licensee because the company would have to become a leaguewide licensee, per MLS rules. But he was actually more interested in selling the apparel without Sporting K.C. or MLS logos, as long as it was in team colors. Moncke: “This wasn’t a situation where just because Aurelien had a line, we said, ‘We’re going to support it no matter what.’ Because there are a lot of guys who kind of have a line. The big thing is Aurelien’s line is fashion driven, and for us, our retail business is all about fashion. So these two things came together and fit perfectly.” The AC78 line has already boosted the club’s apparel sales to women. Moncke said, “A line like AC78 really props up the women’s business because it’s so fashion driven. So I think we saw good numbers for men, but particularly good numbers around the women’s business.” The specially made V-necks are only available at Sporting Park, but will eventually be sold on the team's website.

SALES OVERALL: Moncke said he is pleased with Sporting K.C.’s merchandise sales this season. After selling over 10,000 third jerseys last year, he said the club expects to sell two to three times that amount this year for its new striped secondary jersey. Sporting K.C. currently ranks second in MLS merchandise sales this season, behind the Sounders.
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