Can Nike make football gear fashionable?

The company unveils its take on the NFL uniform as it begins a 5-year contract.

By Kim Peterson Apr 4, 2012 4:15PM
No one knew what the result would be when Nike (NKE) took over the license to create on-field apparel for the National Football League.

We saw what Nike did with the Oregon Ducks' uniforms. As it turns out, the company was far more restrained with the NFL and unveiled its new uniforms for the league's 32 teams Wednesday.

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Nike took over the uniform privileges from Reebok, a unit of Adidas (ADDYY), in a five-year deal to provide jerseys, socks, gloves and the layers of padding that go underneath.

The company didn't make too many changes to the way the uniforms look (with the exception of the Seattle Seahawks). NFL rules say a team can change its uniform only every five years, so many teams were constrained.

So Nike focused on less obvious changes. The material is lighter and sleeker. The shoulder padding went from two layers to one stretchy and strong layer. Thigh padding was added. Some of the clothing became less absorbent so it wouldn't soak up sweat.

The players seem to love it. "The strength of the material, man, I'm excited about next year," said Tennessee Titans wideout Nate Washington, according to CBS Sports.

But the NFL uniforms are just part of it. Nike knows sports-related fashion better than most. Can the company turn its NFL license into a win with consumers?

Reebok likely got about $250 million in wholesale sales in its last year with the license, one analyst told MarketWatch. That's probably half of sales at their peak. Nike could bring in as much as $1 billion in a year.

Football fan wear doesn't sell well. NFL merchandise is easily outsold by products related to Major League Baseball, college sports and the National Basketball Association, MarketWatch reported.

Can Nike reverse that trend?
Apr 4, 2012 4:36PM
Most Nike apparel is made from man-made fibers that claim to "breathe" but feel very uncomfortable for average wear. After the positively ugly design for the Oregon Ducks, the mild appearance change for the Seattle Seahawks is thankfully restrained, if still not an improvement. The NFL needs to keep Nike on a short leash so that the company doesn't take over the "brand" of the NFL. MLB learned a hard lesson long ago to stick with traditions and give a deaf ear to "designers" whose company will profit from change for its own sake.
Apr 5, 2012 10:50AM

Football fan wear doesn't sell well?? Are you kidding me??


Goooooooooooooo Cowboys!

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