Nike has entered into a long-term exclusive licensing partnership with Fanatics for the manufacture and sale of fan clothing and headwear, for a “select group” of Nike-sponsored colleges and universities beginning in 2024.
The new partnership continues the rapid expansion of the Fanatics business platform into the world of sports equipment manufacturing, following similar deals with the NFL and MLB and its acquisition of the smartcard brand. collect. Topps.
Although specific teams were not disclosed in the announcement, Nike has equipped 48 teams in the latest NCAA basketball tournament and also equips more than half of Division I football programs, according to Sports Business Journal. Going forward, Fanatics’ in-house apparel and manufacturing division, Fanatics Brands, will serve as the apparel and headwear licensee for a number of these Nike-sponsored teams. The Fanatics College division already has direct partnerships with most Nike-sponsored colleges and universities, but under the new agreement, Fanatics will create expanded assortments of replica jerseys, headwear and sideline apparel, with a special focus on women’s gear (also a Nike focus at the moment).
“We are proud to extend our longstanding partnership with Nike and implement our innovative vertical commerce model across their preeminent list of universities,” said Doug Mack, CEO of Fanatics Commerce and Vice President of Fanatics Holdings. in a press release. “Our team is excited to maximize the value of Nike’s college partnerships by accelerating the time-to-market of fan gear through our agile supply chain, resulting in an expanded assortment of timeless and on-trend products from the Nike brand for college fans and retailers everywhere.
While fan clothing will now be the purview of fanatics, CNBC reports that Nike will continue to make apparel and merchandise for its varsity team partners, including (mostly) on-court apparel. According to a Fanatics spokesperson, the agreement will allow both companies “to do what they do best” – Fanatics will focus on “innovating and improving the fan experience through the most ranges of timely, high-quality fan gear,” while Nike continue to bring its “product innovation and industry-leading sports performance products” to field and field gear.
In addition to accelerating its momentum in the manufacturing space, the agreement with Nike amplifies Fanatics’ focus on the college sports sector. Fanatics’ Collectibles division and its newly acquired subsidiary Topps announced plans for a college trading card program in June 2022, including exclusive deals with 35 college partners and non-exclusive agreements with over 100 others. Additionally, Fanatics announced a partnership in February 2022 with A team for a varsity jersey customization program.
The sports world is lining up to get involved with Fanatics’ unique business model. The company’s recent $1.5 billion round table (which took its valuation to a dizzying level $27 billion) in April 2022 was led by the NFL and also included investments from NFL Players Association, MLB and its players’ union, the NHL, Ali Baba Co-founder and brooklyn nets Owner Joseph Tsai and Paris Saint Germain Owner of the Qatar Investment Authority football team.