Women Sport Pro Team Garb That Goes Way Past Pink
"This is a much bigger trend than pink caps or pink jerseys," says Steve Armus, vice president-consumer products, soft goods for Major League Baseball, based in New York.
All leagues have long sold apparel in women's sizes, but in the last five years, as the world of sports has more deliberately set out to woo female fans, the offerings have exploded. They include varied styles, cuts, fabrics, and colors.
"It's lavenders, greens, browns," Armus says, describing the shift in direction. "It's not about what guys think. It's about what women want. And they want more than one thing."
The ante is considerable: Plunkett Research estimates that sports apparel sales from the NFL, NBA, MLS, and NHL will total $43 billion in retail sales in 2006. And women represent a fast-growing group of buyers.
At MLB, women account for 15% to 20% of apparel sales. And at the NBA, women reportedly spend $100 million.
Leagues are reaching out as never before. The women's jersey for New Orleans Saints phenom Reggie Bush, for example, comes in four colors. And this season, "Charmed" actress Alyssa Milano (yes, the one who dated Oakland's Barry Zito and Yankee Carl Pavano) will launch a line of baseball-inspired clothing with apparel company G-III.
Of course, more is at stake than clothing sales. As the competition for advertising intensifies, each league is out to attract as many women as it can to both game attendance and TV viewership.
Cleavage-amplifying jerseys are just part of the bigger scheme to welcome women to the game.
There are two types of shoppers, Armus says. One group represents loyal fans, who like apparel linked to great players. "But there's also a big business linked to whoever the hot young guy is--the Derek Jeters and the Johnny Damons."
At the NFL, for example, one of this week's biggest sellers isn't even a jersey, but a player T-shirt for Tony Romo. The Dallas Cowboys' new starting quarterback recently announced that he was single again.