For a while now Nike has been the dominant force in sports apparel, with the likes of Puma and Adidas trailing in the company’s wake. This has been largely due to the success it has had moving into foreign markets that were previously not so aware of the brand. Not content with holding majority share of the US sports apparel market, Nike have successfully targeted continents like Europe and Africa.
Here we look at how Nike used its experience in US-based sports to better develop their soccer jerseys in Africa, Europe, and beyond, whilst going on to design shirts for the likes of Messi at Barcelona.
Nike’s NFL Linkup Rubs Off on Soccer
Nike’s domination of the sporting apparel market in the US has always been anchored by the fact that it has been the official supplier to the NFL for over 20 years. During that time, Nike has been responsible for updating the uniforms of franchises whose owners believe are in need of a facelift, so that every time a fan comes to wager on or watch their NFL team, the famous Nike tick is always present.
Some great recent examples of this have been the Seahawks and the Chargers. Both have benefited from some fresh colors and threads in 2020, with their results on the field, and their odds off it, improving in the process, so much so that Seattle are now among the NFL betting favourites to lift the Super Bowl LV. Was this all down to their kit? No one can know for sure, but it certainly didn’t hurt!
Many of the extra-special elements that Nike worked into those uniforms, such as bold motifs inspired by local history or legend, as well as the use of striking colors such as neon green (in the case of the Seahawks), have now begun to find their way into some of the company’s soccer jersey designs. This has been particularly apparent in the new Nigerian national team shirts, with the women’s outfit bearing a striking resemblance to that of the Seahawks.
This fresh and more individualized approach may also have been part of what led Nike to ditching their soccer template shirts, with the aim that players from different clubs and nations no longer feel they are just wearing the same designs with different color combinations. This would serve to invigorate players, as well as inspire new and returning fans.
What seems clear though, is that the designs that began to appear on the NFL fields at the start of 2020 have had a direct impact on the new soccer jerseys that were put out into the world over the summer.
Perhaps this will also encourage interest between teams and fanbases that share similar designs, with the NFL’s Seahawks now having more in common with the Nigerian soccer league than they might have ever imagined.
When it came to holding onto sports jersey deals with teams and leagues, Nike learned long ago to ensure that the star players who draw the fans and the big bucks are always on side. Just look at how they courted everyone from Michael Jordan to Lebron James in the NBA – giving them incredible sponsorship deals as well as their own clothing lines. It’s no surprise to see them doing the same with the top soccer players around the world.
This has led to an ongoing battle with Adidas to see which firm can bring the biggest players to their respective label. Nike currently boasting the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Kylian Mbappe, while Adidas have Mo Salah and Lionel Messi, even though the latter wears the Nike tick when he plays for Barcelona. Expect this battle between Nike and Adidas to keep on raging, with both brands desperate to establish in Europe the sort of supremacy that Nike has in the United States.