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Shifting Landscape in Luxury Retail Marketing

Luxury fashion powerhouses like Louis Vuitton, Prada, Gucci, Chanel, and Burberry have traditionally forged partnerships with musicians, artists, and fashion icons to promote their products through social media, events, and other marketing avenues. Interestingly, these renowned luxury brands have engaged minimally with elite athletes, with Rolex being a notable exception. Yet, among the top 20 most-followed Instagram accounts globally, three belong to soccer luminaries. It’s evident why Ronaldo, Neymar, and Messi are coveted by luxury brands—they possess a global reach and the ability to set trends and influence millions with a single post.

In the United States, NFL Sunday, Thursday, and Monday night football consistently dominate viewership charts. Luxury brands could seize the opportunity for product endorsements when the spotlight is firmly fixed on football players from fall to Super Bowl Sunday. Similarly, other major sporting extravaganzas such as March Madness (16.9 million viewers), Tour de France (3.5 billion viewers), Cricket World Cup (2.6 billion viewers), the Men’s and Women’s Soccer World Cup (4.42 billion viewers), and The Super Bowl (96.2 million viewers) offer strategic platforms for luxury brands to feature their products on specific athletes. However, within the U.S., we have witnessed fewer professional athletes securing endorsement deals with top luxury fashion houses.

Recent Alliances in Luxury Fashion

In a noteworthy shift, luxury giants like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Burberry have recently announced partnerships with soccer and tennis stars. In November 2021, soccer sensation Marcus Rashford of Manchester United joined forces with luxury icon Burberry. Burberry has committed to supporting Rashford’s chosen charities, dedicated to improving literacy among underprivileged children in the U.K. Meanwhile, English soccer sensation Jack Grealish is on the brink of inking a substantial deal with Gucci, and tennis luminary Naomi Osaka has signed a seven-figure agreement with Louis Vuitton, gracing their 2021 summer campaign.

Furthermore, Louis Vuitton had previously collaborated with U.S. Women’s National Team member Megan Rapinoe, featuring the soccer star in the 2020 Autumn/Fall campaign for Loewe. These luxury brands are weaving athlete partnerships into their marketing strategies, leveraging athletes’ heightened visibility and devoted follower base to expand their reach and appeal to a broader consumer demographic.

The Future of Luxury Fashion Marketing

As we move forward, leading luxury brands are likely to incorporate athletes more extensively into their marketing strategies. Traditionally, luxury retail brands have targeted a narrow audience, relying on musicians, artists, and fashion models. However, athletes possess the potential to tap into an untapped consumer segment for these brands, leading to increased profitability and brand loyalty among a new generation of consumers.

Brands will need to carefully select the athletes to partner with, identify the specific styles that resonate with their new target audience, understand how to collaborate effectively with athletes, and adopt best practices for implementing these innovative marketing strategies. With many questions surrounding this paradigm shift, the early adopters stand to benefit from the untapped potential that elite athletes bring to luxury fashion marketing.

To gain deeper insights into these trends and their potential impact on your business, don’t hesitate to connect with the retail experts at Clarkston.

Have a look at our shop @ Inclusive athletic fashion trends


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