Uniqlo yesterday announced plans to launch an apparel line modeled after performance wear created and worn by tennis player Novak Djokovic. The line will launch in the U.S. in conjunction with the start of the U.S. Open on Monday and will be available in international markets at a later date. The line at launch will consist of 10 items for adults, ranging from warm-up jackets and pants to shirts, shorts and accessories. Uniqlo has sponsored Djokovic since May (Uniqlo). FASHIONISTA.com’s Dhani Mau noted Djokovic was “actually quite involved in the collaboration process and had a very close dialogue with Uniqlo’s creative director Naoki Takizawa, who made several trips to Monaco (where Djokovic lives) and other places around the world to meet with the tennis pro to discuss the collection.” Takizawa said, “All the inspiration comes from him.” Djokovic said, “I think it’s good for tennis players to seek improvement with their sponsors and with the clothes that they wear. … It’s in the common interest of tennis players and the brands representing them to look good on the court. We (Djokovic and Uniqlo) both have common goals and high ambitions” (FASHIONISTA.com, 8/22).
MEN ARE FROM MARS...:In Boston, Christopher Muther wrote tennis player Venus Williams is “scaling back her previous attempts to turn the tennis court into a runway,” as the newest items from her fashion line EleVen "are a far cry from the eyebrow-raising ensembles" she wore to the French Open and Wimbledon. Williams' line of activewear is “a combination of geometric prints, watercolor art, and classic solids,” and is “heavy on tennis skirts and athletic wear.” She also designed a “Wonder Woman-inspired Olympic outfit to match” her sister Serena Williams’ tennis garb. Venus Williams said, “What I try to make is something that’s fun and colorful. There’s been a lot of white in tennis clothes, and that’s not what I want.” Muther noted she also is “designing menswear" (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/22).
NEW FOR NEW YORK:In N.Y., Joanna Nikas reports Ralph Lauren gear will be "worn by court officials” at the U.S. Open. The “limited-edition replicas of those same outfits from the brand’s U.S. Open line -- worn by everyone from line judges to ball boys and girls -- will go on sale starting Monday.” The pieces, which include “exposed-zipper tennis dresses and color-blocked polos, will be on sale at the Arthur Ashe Stadium shop, as well as in select stores” (N.Y. TIMES, 8/23).
WNBA Lynx F Maya Moore remains the league’s top-selling jersey based on sales on WNBAStore.com from October ’11 through August ’12. Moore had the top-selling jersey last year after winning the ’11 WNBA Rookie of the Year award. Following her in jersey sales are Sparks F Candace Parker and Mercury G Diana Taurasi. The Lynx led the league in team merchandise sales (WNBA).
National Urban League President & CEO Marc Morial is continuing to urge Nike to drop its plans to release a version of Heat F LeBron James' new shoe, the LeBron X, that retails for more than $300. Morial appeared on CNBC’s “Power Lunch” yesterday and said it is the "wrong message for Nike to send to parents that there’s some value in a $300 sneaker." The idea that people "have gotten into fights and altercations over sneakers might shock some people’s conscience, but these sneakers have become -- in many respects -- a status symbol." Morial: "You have to have a certain type of sneaker to belong to a certain group.” The Urban League is asking Nike to "be responsible about this, take a pause and consider the effects of a $300 sneaker.” Nike execs spend "a lot of money promoting a very responsible image of themselves, and, consistent with the image that their advertising promotes in this instance, pausing and revaluating this product at this price at this time is the thing any responsible corporation would do.” CNBC's Sue Herera noted Nike does plan to release several versions "of this sneaker, one of which will be lower priced” (“Power Lunch,” CNBC, 8/22). SportsNet N.Y.’s Eamon McAnaney noted there are a "lot of sociological discussions about this: Too expensive, the kids who want to buy them can’t afford it." McAnaney: "I absolutely agree with that. But at the same point, people get robbed for their iPhones and iPods, and no one blames Apple.” SportsNet N.Y.’s Marc Malusis said, “The standard version is $185 dollars. If there's a fool out there that's willing to spend that $315 dollars for a pair of sneakers, God bless” (“The WheelHouse,” SportsNet N.Y., 8/22).
NUMBERS GAME: In Las Vegas, Ed Graney writes, "The fact that an athlete's shoe is flirting with the once unimaginable price of $300 shouldn't send shock waves through anyone's wallet." If it "knows anything, Nike understands the math on this stuff." Nike owns 95% of the basketball shoe market in the U.S., and "retail for its hoop shoes costing more than $100 is up 50 percent." Graney: "I blame James for the ridiculous price and I don't. I get it. The power of capitalism. The basic supply-and-demand strategy" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 8/23). However, CNBC’s Julia Boorstin said, “The problem is marketing and that Nike is marketing these shoes to teenagers and often to teenagers in inner-cities who can’t afford them. I think that Nike does pride itself on its corporate responsibility, they just have to be really cautious how they handle the marketing issue” ("Power Lunch," CNBC, 8/22).
Caddypro Golf Products has “just received the green light from the NHL to sell licensed league-marked golf products throughout North America,” according to Nick Lees of the EDMONTON JOURNAL. Wick Agencies & Caddypro Golf Products CEO John Veres said, “We can’t keep the teams’ golf bags in stock. ... We hope to double sales from about $2 million in the next year or so.” Lees wrote the company “has already heard from many of the NHL teams in the U.S. who are interested in carrying their own club-marked golf gear.” Golf bags are the company’s top seller, but they “are made in China, where manufacturers have a backlog of orders from around the globe.” The golf bags take “from three to four months" to get to North America. Veres said, “We originally sold a generic bag with a hockey team’s logo on the ball pocket. But we are now selling bags in team colours and logos. The NHL’s Toronto office was pleased with our operations and we now deal with the head office in New York.” Caddypro Golf National Sales Manager Gary McMullen said that the NHL “is now including Caddypro in promotions showing its success with its licensed program.” McMullen: “We are negotiating with national retailers and working hard on the Ontario market” (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 8/21).
ESPN.com’s Paul Lukas reviewed the Univ. of Oregon football uniforms for the upcoming season, originally unveiled by UO in the '12 Rose Bowl against Wisconsin, but first detailed yesterday by Nike. Lukas: "Lots of college football teams have been unveiling new uniforms in recent weeks, but there's one team that will always get the highest billing: Oregon.” UO and Nike are “being coy about how many pant and helmet colors will be available for mixing and matching,” but there is word that a “metallic green helmet will be part of the mix.” Lukas: “I always liked the winged jerseys from the past few years and don't particularly care for the new feathered design” (ESPN.com, 8/22).
GOING DOWN HILL? In Vancouver, Zoe McKnight notes Gold Medal-winning Canadian skier Ashleigh McIvor "is suing the juice company that had agreed to sponsor her" after the '10 Vancouver Games. McIvor "signed a $45,000 contract with the Vancouver company YJ Sciences, Inc., formerly known as Our World Network Inc., in November 2010 to be the brand ambassador for 'Youth Juice.'" McIvor said the company "appeared to lose interest" in her after a knee injury in '11. Court documents show that the YJ Sciences "owes McIvor $10,000 for a 2010 photo shoot, as well as monthly payments of $5,000 from January to July 2011" (VANCOUVER SUN, 8/23).
A-TEN-HUT! Paciolan yesterday announced that the U.S. Military Academy will be continuing its 26-year partnership with the ticketing firm. Army has been working with Paciolan since '86 (Paciolan).
CLARIFICATION: A story that ran in Tuesday’s issue of THE DAILY should have stated IMG Academy is going to merge its independent athletic programs under one new name. As part of the change, Nick Bollettieri and the Bollettieri name will continue to play an active role within the tennis program, and IMG's relationship with Pro Football HOFer John Madden will remain unchanged.