The NFL is going from the gridiron to the runway with fashion

Published on September 27, 2010 by     Seahawk Fanatic

Vogue, step aside. The NFL is going from the gridiron to the runway with fashion advice to help female fans wear their team colors everywhere from tailgates to posh nightclubs.

The league has thousands of new products including jeans with logos on the back pockets, flip-flops and yoga mats for women this year. It is pairing up with shops such as Victoria’s Secret and Destination Maternity to sell the new products this fall in 3,000 new stores.

The league is launching a $10 million marketing effort on Monday with television commercials and a new website at http://www.nfl.com/women.

Women – who comprise 44 percent of NFL fans – can peruse a look book showing how NFL wives such as October Gonzalez, wife of Altanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez, and Tanya Snyder, wife of Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder, put together the various casual to dressy items. On one page, a NFL fan wears a slit-neck hooded t-shirt (retail: $44.99) paired with a purse made of recycled license plates featuring a team logo (retail: $149.99). The tag line reads: “Who says football isn’t pretty?”

The league’s women’s apparel business has doubled since 2004, said Tracey Bleczinski, vice president of apparel. She declined to say how much the segment was worth but said it was one-fourth the size of the men’s business. The league declined to release total annual sales figures.

Women’s sports apparel has been around for about a decade, and originally the strategy was to “shrink it and pink it,” Bleczinski said. But products have evolved to tap into women’s desire to wear team colors beyond game day. This year, the NFL is taking it a step further by putting more products in more stores and showing women how to wear them.

“It’s kind of like our tag line ‘love your team without looking like you’re on it,’” she said. “We’re giving women the opportunity to be themselves and still love the game.”

The league tailors its products in step with changing fashion trends. This year, it’s less about bedazzling and more about foiling – a process that makes shiny designs on clothing. Women can also buy customizable jeans that let them choose where their team logos will be displayed.

The NFL is also keeping up with lifestyle trends, creating spa gift bags with natural brown sugar scrub, Mediterranean sea salts and goat’s milk and honey lotion with team logos. Those bags come with team-spirited nail polish, such as black and yellow for Pittsburgh Steelers fans. (Retail: $44.99)

The offerings are also being expanded to cater to women of all sizes, including plus and maternity. One of the best sellers so far this year is a pairing of a team logo maternity top and matching outfit for a baby, Bleczinski said.

The NFL will sell more products with existing partners J.C. Penney Co., Kohl’s Corp. and Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc. this year, and feature its wares on http://www.nflshop.com in mid-October.

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