Friday, June 11, 2010

Stylish Sports

Fashion rocks. Plain and simple, the fashion industry and the music industry often parallel and compliment each other. There are up-and-coming musicians and designers, who either get their big break by starting out with an established star, or they begin with humble roots and slowly build a loyal fan/client base. There are the loud, in your face, attention commanders, and there are the quiet, predictable players.

But fashion and sports also share a love affair. My friends at MO Luxury recently wrote about Louis Vuitton's campaign featuring 3 legendary soccer stars. In short, Ms. O'Rourke and Co. applaud the French Fashion house, highlighting the great opportunity of continuing the brand's global awareness, dominance, and value.

I can only intensify this thought for all of sports with fashion. We all know American master Ralph Lauren has highlighted the success and synergy between the two segments. Mr. Lauren has built an athletic quality into all of his designs, including making the face of his namesake Argentine polo player Nacho Figueras. Additionally, the brand is the official sponsor of tennis's Wimbledon, has sponsored several professional American golfers, the US Open, and been the official supplier of the US Olympic teams.

Italian maestro Giorgio Armani has also played the athletic game by incorporating David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo into global underwear campaigns. And Calvin Klein scored huge gains with his X Mark Your Spot campaign with the assistance of Spanish tennis star Fernando Verdasco.

Maybe it's the celebrity factor. Or the typically sculpted physique. Or the fact that incredibly skilled, famous athletes usually garner copious salaries and support luxe lifestyles. Or that the idols often are symbols to their vast fan bases and represent everything they long to be and have for themselves. Or the fact that on an essential level, celebrity athletes are undeniably talented and raw, just as the best fashion designers possess undeniable talent.

Celebrity athletic endorsements come with a price, however. Even though basketball star Kobe Bryant was never convicted of rape charges a few years ago, Nutella pulled their sponsorship and quickly ended Bryant's worldwide product endorsement. And golfing legend Tiger Woods lost several million dollars in corporate sponsorships after his relationship struggles with his wife became so very public.

Regardless, fashion and sports have a powerful love affair that translates to increased profits, greater brand awareness, and more positive market share. And when fashion wins, we all win.

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