Wilson Sporting Goods Co. wants to be a player in the lifestyle apparel category.
This week, the sports equipment, apparel and accessories maker will launch Wilson Sportswear in the US and China to bring sports, fashion and culture together. The direct-to-consumer line is sold exclusively at wilson.com in the US as well as through the WeChat Mini program and other leading brand sites in China.
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In addition, Wilson will open its first retail locations in key markets such as Chicago, New York, Beijing and Shanghai in late summer.
“Wilson has engineered equipment from the world’s best athletes for more than a century,” said Gordon Devin, president of Wilson Sportswear. “We are excited to expand our craftsmanship, history and heritage to clothing. As athletes keep redefining themselves, Wilson redefines athletes’ uniforms, combining the premium performance expected from Wilson with fresh, athlete-inspired styles. “
Devin told WWD that the company has been in the apparel sportswear sector in its 106-year history. Wilson, who changed hands in 2019 and is now owned by Amer Sports Corp. is, a subsidiary of the Chinese company Anta Sports, looked at its brand and customer base and “heard loud and clear from our customers that they love our brand and want more from us,” he said.
Wilson Sportswear will range from high-performance technical products to lifestyle products for clothing, shoes and accessories. This week the company will be launching clothing that can be purchased both on and off the field. “We want to own Saturday and Sunday,” said Devin.
Sportswear items are expected to drop every two weeks. Cooperations are planned for key moments in sports culture. The lineup includes a range of sets for men and women, including French terry connectors and woven warm-up exercises. The main models on the women’s grid are a Fly Crop Sweatshirt ($ 68), an Everyday Brami ($ 48), a Stance Slim Jogger ($ 68), a Limitless Skirt ($ 58), and an Evolution Short ($ 48) . For men, there is the Millennium Crewneck Sweatshirt ($ 78), the Newport Polo ($ 68), the Pitch Short-Sleeve Baseball Tee ($ 48), the Double Day Training Short ($ 68), and the Midway Travel Pant ($ 98 ).
The story goes on
The clothing is sourced in Italy, China, Taiwan and Japan and manufactured worldwide.
According to Joelle Michaeloff, Head of Design Lifestyle at Wilson, the company starts with products that are athletic and cover an athlete from day to night. The product range extends from “products that make you sweat on the pitch to sporty products”.
“Everything comes from one place in sport,” she said.
Devin said they have some collaborations in the pipeline but it’s too early to discuss.
In terms of retail stores, Devin talked about Wilson’s first rented space in downtown Chicago, which will open later this summer. They’re also planning a 7,000-square-foot store in New York’s SoHo later this summer with equipment and clothing. “It’s a place of fun and play and sport and Wilson and community,” he said.
Currently, Wilsons’s two biggest revenue-wise sports are baseball and tennis. The five most important sports are baseball, tennis, soccer, basketball and golf. Aside from the grid, Devin said that each style of clothing goes with a particular sport through performance or inspiration. Each product takes into account that specific sport, how they get there, what they play, what they play with and how they use the product.
For example, there are tennis courts on the court with ball storage facilities that allow the wearer to carry their phone when leaving the court. There is also a sweater that can be worn both on and off the court.
In the past, Wilson made a very small amount of performance tennis products. “We broke them down and turned them into sportswear,” said Devin.
They played more tennis than golf for the first two seasons, but as the line grows and evolves, the clothing for golf will increase.
Overall, the lifestyle collection costs between $ 40 and $ 100, with the sweet spot being between $ 50 and $ 100. The sizes range from XS to XL for women and XS to XXL for men. At the moment there are no small or oversizes. The line starts with 100 storage units. The clothing features a W logo and a number of badges honoring Wilson’s legacy.
Devin sees children’s clothing as an opportunity, but Wilson won’t take it in 2021 or 2022.
While going through Wilson’s previous catalogs, they came across various striped layouts and used them on the grid. There are small details like proprietary stitches and seams associated with the device.
With the introduction of Wilson Sportswear, the company also expands its network of consultants, comprised of more than 10,000 professional athletes, coaches and teaching professionals, to include those who intersect with sports culture. Members are Beija Velez, designer, stylist and model; Kelley James, musician, and Jahmal Cole, founder and CEO of My Block, My Hood, My City, among others.
When asked who she thinks Wilson Sportswear customer should be, Michaeloff said, “We’re talking about this ‘Forever 28’ year old internally. It is the inner athlete, someone who grew up loving sports and doing sports. When you exercise, you are wired in a certain way. You have really big things in mind.
“We made a lot of decisions based on this 28 year old mindset. The athlete is sometimes driven by his sport. When your sport no longer defines you, you are forever the athlete, ”she said.
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