Starting a sportswear brand from scratch is really tough.
Its extremely hard work and takes real dedication and commitment to make it succeed. The brand concept needs to be unique, really set itself apart from the competition and stand for something. If your concept doesn’t tick these boxes then the chances for success will be slim.
We get approached by lots people who have, in their mind a fantastic new idea in sportswear. In reality many are passionate about a particular sport and see $$$ in front of their eyes when they look at the scale of the super brands who dominate the sports market. Some even think they can simply knock off their product and undercut them to make them stand out, however in reality this is destined for disaster. The super brands are working to pretty standard margins and produce huge quantities of each style to then distribute around the globe to their network of retail partners. How on earth is a start up going to simply undercut them when they struggle to produce the factory minimums.
At Blue Associates we only work with clients that are truly interested in creating something unique. We simply don’t do “Me 2″. When we start the design process we always start with a blank page. We obviously research the market and evaluate the competition but importantly, we look at alternative influences to drive the design process. Function and performance always leads this process followed by style and colour that are usually dictated by the function anyway.
We have worked with big design departments in established brands and have noticed that they soon become very stale. For instance, an outdoor brand will only visit outdoor stores, suppliers, fabric mills and trade shows to check out what their competitors are doing. Before long all the brands within outdoor start to copy each other and the market becomes stagnant with launches of their new version of last seasons product, usually with some new snazzy style lines and some flashy new colour.
We hate this. It’s not innovative and quite often the original concept of a particular product is the best as its driven by innovation, so why change it just for changing sake. Instead, we design with a fresh approach. We develop styles that are required and necessary to partake a sport. We then finesse each product to be the best it can be and move on. We don’t promote redesigning a new version 6 months later with new style lines and in the latest trend colours as most sportswear will never be worn down a catwalk or on a red carpet.
There is always room for improvement or introduce new technologies and materials and when such technologies become available and will significantly improve the product will we opt to produce V2 of a design. Basically we are improving the engineering behind the product.
So, the moral of this journal is simple. If you want to start a sportswear brand, make sure you have a fresh concept that’s unique and stands for something. If you are simply looking to become the next Nike by knocking them off then stop right now and rethink.
Below is a very funny film from the CEO and designer of Saddleback Leather who has decided to highlight the uniqueness and quality of his product by teaches consumers what they are giving up when they by something Knock Off.