Major global sporting tournaments have traditionally led to a wide variety of African sport souvenir products hitting the market. In particular, the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil prompted a huge surge of interest in sport and fan wear in every country that was taking part.
When Design & Sport Collide
Aside from the basic sporting apparel sold in high street stores, high-end designers have also been reaping the ongoing rewards of the worldwide interest in sports tournaments. One of these is African fashion entrepreneur 54 Kingdoms, whose upmarket retail store in New York, USA, is filled with traditional items based on Africa’s rich culture.
Designers Kwaku Awuah and Nana Poku harnessed the World Cup’s massive African following in the United States to design and sell top-of-the-range sports apparel. The sporting event prompted them to re-think their marketing strategy to encompass the demand from highly-patriotic sports fans.
They have produced a collection of fan wear, based on African designs, which encourage people to meet and befriend new people. The jerseys contain a graphic which is actually only half of the design. The graphic’s corresponding half can be found on another jersey. The innovative idea is aimed at getting fans to look out for their other “half” at sports gatherings and make friends, in order to see the full picture that their combined jerseys creates.
The strategy can be developed to encompass any relevant global sporting events, such as the Olympic Games, future FIFA World Cup events and the African Nations Cup.
Money is No Object
Former Nigerian national footballer Tajudeen Disu, a World Cup team player in the 1980s, agrees that fans become “absorbed in their patriotism” when sporting tournaments are taking place. A survey of 8,000 sports fans in 15 countries whose team took part in the FIFA World Cup 2014 revealed many were prepared to spend up to $65 each on commemorative clothing.
Any designers thinking of tapping into the sports apparel market are advised to carry out market research first and tailor their product in response to clients’ feedback. Garments that are durable and look good can continue to be worn long after the tournament has ended, ensuring their longevity.