After making tennis rackets, golf clubs, baseball gloves and even the official NFL football since World War II, Chicago-based Wilson Sporting Goods is launching a new line of premium sportswear that it said marks its evolution as a household athletic lifestyle brand.
According to a company announcement, the new Wilson Sportswear apparel line will be available in the U.S. and China, and is seen as a strategic merger of sport, fashion and culture.
The company, which was acquired by Amer Sports in 1989, said it will tap its sports heritage and roster of athletes for inspiration in designing its products. Last month, Amer was in the news for completing the sale of its exercise bike company, Precor, to Peloton.
“For more than a century, Wilson has been designing equipment to the specifications required by the world’s greatest athletes,” said Gordon Devin, president of Wilson Sportswear. “We are excited to extend our craftsmanship, history and heritage to apparel. As athletes continue to redefine themselves, Wilson is redefining the athletes’ uniform, coupling the premium performance expected from Wilson with fresh styles inspired by athletes.”
First-Ever Retail Stores
In addition to entering the apparel space, Wilson said it will open its first-ever retail locations later this year in “key markets,” including Chicago, New York and Beijing. While the company’s new sportswear line and its pedigree sporting goods will be available online through its own website and other social media destinations such as WeChat, Wilson said its stores will offer an interactive world of sporting goods, equipment and sportswear.
At the same time, in keeping with what has become one of this year’s hottest retail trends, Wilson said it plans to do bi-weekly product drops and special apparel collaborations that are planned around “key moments in sports culture.” In fact, the company has already launched its inaugural “001 Sportswear” line online, a roughly 80-piece mix of men’s and women’s shorts, skirts, sweats, tee shirts and tops, all of which are available via buy now, pay later (BNPL) financing via Klarna.
Keeping It Cool
Old brands and styles, as well as secondhand, distressed and ripped clothes, are in fashion right now. To compete in this well-served streetwear niche, Wilson has assembled a “style advisory team” to make sure its kicks are cool.
With the launch of Wilson Sportswear, the company is also extending its Advisory Staff network – which is comprised of more than 10,000 professional athletes, coaches and teaching pros – to include a select group of esteemed luminaries who intersect sport culture in unique ways.
“The Wilson Advisory Staff is a dynamic group of athletes, creatives and entrepreneurs who are greatly influencing sports and culture today. It’s such an honor to be included,” said Phillip Leyesa, a young fashion designer known on Instagram for making new sneakers look old. “It’s incredible to see Wilson not only respect my craft as an artist, but value my opinion as a creative,” Leyesa added, while describing his role as adding a refreshing, modern spin on the popular athleisure look.