It’s an interesting time in the athletic clothing corner of the universe. Puma is getting back into basketball. Folks mad at Colin Kaepernick are burning Nikes. And now, Champion is going from making the old Notre Dame jerseys in your father’s closet to sponsoring an Esports team.
Champion Athleticwear, famous for being the official jersey provider of Notre Dame for half a century before Adidas took over, is sponsoring Esports power Team Dignitas. The move signals a big change for the athletic company as it tries to pivot into a younger, more modern look with its apparel. The Sports Biz reported on Thursday that the nearly 100-year-old company is throwing its support behind Esports and will provide official jerseys and other athleticwear for the Esports team the Philadelphia 76ers bought a stake in two years ago.
According to the site, Champion hopes to use the purchase as a way to rebrand the company with a younger, less classic football jersey style as it launches a new apparel line.
The deal between Champion and Team Dignitas will make Champion the official jersey, casual wear and athletic wear provider of the esports team and allow Champion to manage its online sales distribution. It marks the first time that Champion has involved itself in an esports sponsorship.
Champion is certainly interested in capturing the attention of millennials as it rebrands and readies for its launch of a new line of apparel in Fall 2018. Associating with an esports team makes sense, because it will not only provide Champion exposure for its design marks, but also display the actual product on the players as they attract the attention of spectators in-person and through popular streaming services such as Twitch.
What it means is officially made merchandise for Team Dignitas made by Champion, which clearly sees this as an opportunity to get on the radar with young people who happen to game. Team Dignitas CEO Micahel Prindville seems really excited about the partnership, too.
“The opportunity to partner with the apparel company that pioneered one of the most essential retail pieces in any esports player and fan’s wardrobe — the hoodie — is truly appropriate,” Prindiville told The Sports Biz. “Champion and Team Dignitas are uniquely aligned in the trajectory of our businesses. Champion’s recent reemergence into pop culture mirrors Team Dignitas’ incredible renaissance in fan popularity and dominance in competition.”
Champion getting in on the ground floor for Esports is a big get for their brand, and it seems to reason that other apparel companies will follow as both sports and other realms of Esports continue to grow. With the success of things like the Overwatch League and the NBA 2K League, along with more sports teams investing in the market, it seems to be only a matter of time before other manufacturers follow suit.