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Where Fashion Meets Sports Sponsorship

12/04/2015 06:01 EST | Updated 12/04/2016 05:12 EST
Andrew H. Walker via Getty Images
NEW YORK - AUGUST 27: Tennis star Maria Sharapova attends the unveiling of her collection at Cole Haan Rockefeller Center Store on August 27, 2009 in New York, New York. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

The line between celebrity and athletes has grown increasingly blurry over the past number of years. It is common to see athletes on late night TV or attending the latest Hollywood award shows. This environment -- typically reserved for actors and actresses -- has given athletes the opportunity to showcase their fashion sense off the field of play. This shift has led to a number of fashion brands to consider investing in sports marketing and sponsorship. Whether it is Eugenie Bouchard on the cover of Flare magazine or GQ hosting an NBA All-Star party, fashion and sports are mixing more than ever before.

How Fashion Brands Are Leveraging Sports

Team Sponsorship

Europe is known for its fashion influence and is home to many sporting teams that have a fashion brand on their sponsor roster. Dolce and Gabana, headquartered in Milan, has been a sponsor of the soccer team AC Milan since 2004. Since 2014, Hugo Boss has been a sponsor of Paris soccer team PSG. Last month, luxury footwear brand HERO became a sponsor of Manchester United. All are globally recognized soccer teams and are located in fashion-forward markets.

Player Sponsorship

In North America, it is more common to see fashion brands enlist athletes either as a spokesperson or as a consultant in the creation of new products. Luxury footwear brand Cole Haan launched a line of footwear which tennis star Maria Sharapova helped design. Having the athlete aid in the design process can create a true partnership and bring more authenticity to the clothing line.

Sports Association Sponsorship

The opening ceremony at the Olympics always attracts significant attention across the world. In recent years, fashion brands have sought to capitalize on this attention by rolling out compelling team uniforms on the world stage. During the Sochi Winter Olympics, the American team was outfitted by Ralph Lauren and the Canadians were outfitted by Hudson's Bay.

Benefits of Leveraging Sports for Fashion Brands

Leverage a Mass Platform

Through partnering with an athlete or sports organization, a fashion brand can find an effective way to tap into a mass audience and capitalize off of their high recognition. Not only will this audience be inherently larger due to the mass appeal of sports, but it will likely also provide exposure to net-new consumers previously not exposed to the brand.

Sports Are a Symbol of Health & Wellness

Athletes are generally thought of as the standard for health and fitness. Whether it is a Olympic sprinter or a soccer player, athletes generally have a body most people strive for. Through recruiting an athlete to appear in a fashion brand's marketing, they can create an aspirational message.

Emerging Trends to Watch in the Fashion & Sports

As fashion and sports continue to blend, a few notable trends have begun to emerge.

Athletic Brands playing in Fashion

As much as fashion brands are looking to the world of sports for new sponsorships, athletic brands are also looking to the world of fashion for inspiration. Fashion icons like Katy Perry and Pharrell Williams are part of Adidas' endorsement roster and Jamie Foxx has appeared in a number of Under Armour spots.

Athletes Interested in Non-Athletic Ventures

Whether it is due to a desire to increase their earning potential, hedge the risk of injuries, or set themselves up for a post-athletic career, athletes are increasingly finding ways to diversify their brand. Fashion partnerships helps athletes craft an image that transcends sports.

As fashion brands begin to look outside the world of fashion to market themselves, athletes have been willing to demonstrate their fashion sense through brand partnerships. Whether it is walking the red carpet or arriving at the game, athletes continue to provide fashion brands with new and effective platforms to reach new audiences.

S&E Sponsorship Group Inc. is Canada's leading sponsorship agency, providing strategic counsel and activation solutions to leading brands

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