As Super Bowl Approaches, Adept NFL Retailers Are Saying So Long To 'Shrink It And Pink It'

Jan 18 2014, 1:06pm CST | by

As Super Bowl Approaches, Adept NFL Retailers Are Saying So Long To 'Shrink It And Pink It'

The traditional model of selling NFL-licensed apparel to women involves taking the same clothing created for men and simply doing what is known in the retail industry as, “shrink it and pink it.”  The phrase is simply a reference to modifying the same exact items manufactured for men and selling them in smaller sizes and with commonly regarded female attributes (i.e. the color pink and/or rhinestones).  However, holding on to that model is no longer an option for companies concerned about building up their sports-related women’s retail businesses.  Thus, they are starting to say so long to “shrink it and pink it” and those willing to try something new are seeing strong results.

“Men are still majority when it comes to purchasing sports apparel, but there is a large chunk of female fans and they don’t want to just buy men’s smalls,” explained Marty Brochstein, Senior Vice President, Industry Relations & Information at the Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association (LIMA) to FORBES.  Brochstein’s mission is to foster the growth and expansion of licensing.  He believes that all leagues realize they now have to go beyond “shrink it and pink it,” and says that in sport, it is about identification with a sport or specific team.  Importantly, he offered, “licensing at its core is all about emotion.”

One company that appears to truly understand the shift from “shrink it and pink it” to developing a unique, desirable line of sports-related women’s apparel is Junk Food Clothing.  Do not let the name of the company fool you — no Starburst, liquorice or other types of candy are offered by the innovative clothing company.  Instead, the vintage t-shirt company known for its soft, comfortable fabrics plans to put women front-and-center in the weeks leading up to the 2014 Super Bowl.  It will offer its entire line of NFL-related products for women and will also be bringing to market, exclusively at Bloomingdale’s, a women’s capsule collection inspired by its Junk Food NFL Runway Show called “NFL Element” and featuring  Kristin Cavallari (actress and wife of Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler) that was held at last fall’s Fashion Week.

Junk Food Clothing has been an NFL licensee for several years, but more recently discovered a growing trend of consumers shifting from identifying with film and television actors and actresses to associating with athletes, who are playing an increasing role in developing fashion trends.  The company’s desire to buck the trend caught the attention of the NFL.

“This year the NFL came to us to develop integrated marketing solutions for them to develop their female market,” said Andre Najjar, Vice President of Marketing at Junk Food to FORBES.  ”We did a whole fashion capsule for them, then a Breast Cancer Awareness campaign with Bloomingdales.  We featured two NFL styles on an oversize t-shirt body which has been trending for us in the women’s business.”  However, Junk Food is not only a women’s clothing company.  Najjar pointed out that next year his company will work with the NFL to do the same type of activities and activation for the men’s market.

Bloomingdale’s will be the hub of Junk Food’s Super Bowl-related activities over the next few weeks, although its products will also be available at Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue.  Earlier this week, Bloomingdale’s unveiled its NFL inspired fashion windows, including windows featuring ‘haute couture’ football helmets and four touchscreen windows from Junk Food that will change leading up to the Super Bowl and will eventually feature the two teams playing in the Super Bowl immediately before the game.

For those on the West Coast, Junk Food will be hosting a celebrity party at Soho House in Los Angeles with an array of athletes, celebrities, fans and sportscasters.  Marketing initiatives aside, the full Junk Food vintage women’s NFL line is being housed at Bloomingdale’s in addition to online.

Junk Food Clothing seems to simply “get it” when it comes to women’s fashion as it relates to sports.  The fact that Junk Food has won the LIMA award for Sports Licensee for the past two consecutive years makes a significant statement.  It seems like this is just the tip of the iceberg, though.  LIMA says total sales for professional sports and collegiate licensing in 2012 amounted to $12.31 billion (the 2013 numbers will be released this June during its Licensing Show).  If women open their purses wider and start spending more money on sports-related apparel, then Junk Food Clothing and others willing to ditch “shrink it and pink” it will have customers to capture and the total sales for sports licensing should rise.

Winning the crowd over leading up to the Super Bowl is mission number one.

Darren Heitner is a Partner at Wolfe Law Miami, P.A. in Miami, Florida, Founder of Sports Agent Blog Professor of Sport Agency Management at Indiana University and author of a forthcoming book, How to Play the Game published by the American Bar Association.  Learn more about him at

Follow @DarrenHeitner

Source: Forbes Business


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