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Swet Tailor Success Buoyed By Modern Athlete’s Fashion Preferences

The brand’s ability to connect with today’s most well-known athletes has led to more investment opportunities to market towards the everyday fan.

Max Simpson

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The modern-day professional athlete is more business and culturally savvy than ever before. Everyday, both the athlete and his or her representation are approached by brands hoping the athlete will “buy in,” allowing the product to become the “next big thing.”

Unfortunately, many brands fail to meet the expectations and desires of the modern-day athlete. Whether it is a lack of personal connection, poor product quality, or not relating to the athlete’s desired audience, many brands simply fall by the wayside in an already diluted market because they are not able to separate themselves from the rest.

So how does a brand flourish by aligning themselves with future NFL stars and Super Bowl champions? By being authentic, passionate, and taking advantage of the moment.

Swet Tailor is quickly becoming a favorite amongst many locker rooms throughout the NFL. The brand’s ability to hone in on its organic connection to its fanbase dates back to when the company was first established.

READ MORE: Inside the NFL’s New Partnership With ‘Fortnite’

Swet Tailor initially started out as a campaign on Kickstarter back in July 2014. At the time, Adam Bolden was consulting for brands out in Los Angeles. Bolden reached out to the two founders, offering to help.

“It turns out I went to college with one of the founders and I was close to his older brother,” said Bolden. “They reached back out and we started working together.”

Over the next few months, Bolden helped to custom engineer the fabrication of the clothing, develop the pattern, and help put the entire business together ultimately assisting the team with fulfilling the Kickstarter campaign by November 2014.

By April 2015, Bolden had bought in a third of the partnership with the rest of the ownership group comprised of Bolden’s former colleague, David Kranz who carried over 20 years of experience within the apparel industry, and one of the remaining original founders. And with Bolden and Kranz buying out the remaining founder in July 2015, Swet Tailor was ready to take its business to the next level.

With Bolden serving as CEO and Kranz as CMO, the duo took out a $250,000 line of credit to expand their scope of business. By 2015, Swet Tailor did $99,000 in business. In 2016, it reached $270,000. In 2017, it accumulated over $1,000,000 in sales. Bolden attributed the success to recognizing the importance of what the customer is asking for.

“We take feedback to heart,” said Bolden. “We ask customers directly about their style and color-scheme preferences. We aren’t stabbing in the dark. We are directly tackling customers’ wants and needs.”

Swet Tailor is designed for sports fans of all shapes and sizes. The custom tailoring allows for specific sizing as well as personalized styles. With joggers, polos, chino shorts, stretch shorts, hoodies, pullover sweatshirts, knits, and more, Swet Tailor holds true to its #EveryDayEveryWear campaign as the company has a full assortment of options to appeal to those looking to enhance their current wardrobe.

“We don’t define ourselves as an athleisure clothing company,” says Bolden. “Instead, we are elevating what ‘casual look’ is today. Our brand can be worn to your kids’ soccer game, lounging on the couch, running errands, and everything in between. We are making clothes that move with you, not against you.”

So with the brand being positioned as a premium lifestyle clothing choice, how did the clothing wind up being adorned on the NFL elite? A little bit of luck and a lot of sports passion.

Harken back to this past Super Bowl, on February 4, 2018, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Bolden, who is a graduate of the University of Arizona Wildcats and a huge Philadelphia fan, was wearing the college jersey of another former Wildcat, Nick Foles. With Foles’ publicity rising each week after taking over for the injured Carson Wentz towards the end of the season, it was safe to say that not many fans were wearing Foles’ jersey that day — and few to none were sporting the same uniform that he wore in college.

“Everyone in my section thought I was a Patriots fan since the jersey was red,” said Bolden. “I had to correct fellow Eagles fans that I was rooting for the same team as they were.”

Fast forward two weeks later. Bolden’s wife’s previous employer, a PR agency, was contacted by Athlete’s First, the sports agency who represents Foles. They were inquiring about dressing Foles for his upcoming appearance onJimmy Kimmel Live.”

“Athletes First was looking for clothing for Nick, and my wife’s team also inquired about including some Swet Tailor apparel for Nick to try on as well. So, when they asked me if I wanted to dress Nick Foles for the show, I said yes without batting an eyelash.”

Bolden then put together an entire collection of Swet Tailor clothing together, customized just for Foles. Included in the collection was a handwritten letter outlining their mutual connection to the University of Arizona and Bolden’s dedication to the team through attending all of the team’s playoff games. Bolden also included photos of himself repping Foles’ college jersey at the Super Bowl.

“I get a letter back from Foles telling me how much he loves the clothes I sent,” said Bolden. “Very soon after, he invited me to his house down in Newport. While I went down to grab his measurements for the suit we were making, we struck up a really nice friendship.”

Swet Tailor has not yet made suits available for the mass marketplace. Yet, the brand has created dabbled in creating customized suits for athletes in order to help further showcase what the company has to offer.

Shortly after his “Jimmy Kimmel Live” appearance, Foles shared additional samples of Swet Tailor apparel throughout the Eagles’ locker room. Foles’ teammates loved the clothes and wanted to find out where they could obtain more. Soon, Wentz, Zach Ertz, current quarterbacks coach Press Taylor and many other Eagles were embracing the brand and showcasing it in everyday life.

“It was the most amazing thing,” said Bolden. “Players started giving clothes to other players who then gave them to coaches. It is like it has become the ‘unofficial official’ clothing at the practice facilities when the players are not playing.”

In addition to Foles, Athletes First also represented other Eagles players. The sports agency had received word of the growing popularity of the brand within the Eagles’ organization. Soon, Bolden was taking meetings with the agency to help get more product into the hands of the players.

“Our team at Swet Tailor has built a very organic relationship with Athletes First,” said Bolden. “It is interesting because they said they have never received feedback from their clients like this who want to be a part of a brand. Usually it’s the other way around and it’s the brand trying to get the product into the sports agency, hoping they’re going to give it to their players.”

Through Athletes First, Bolden was introduced to Mark Sanchez. The two ended up meeting and playing a round of golf together. After gifting Sanchez a pair of Swet Tailor’s Chino shorts to wear, the quarterback wrote back a couple weeks later asking how he can become involved in the company.

In November 2018, Sanchez, now a member of the Washington Redskins, invested in Swet Tailor alongside others as part of a $1.5 million first round of seed funding headed by Burch Creative Capital. Other interested investors include two prominent NFL quarterbacks to be announced as early as 2019.

“I believe that Swet Tailor is a brand that can address a wide variety of unique opportunities in today’s world of men’s fashion,” said Sanchez. “As a professional athlete I have seen men’s fashion trends come and go, and realize that no matter who you are, you want to look good and feel comfortable. The timeless style and unrivaled comfort make Swet Tailor an attractive brand. I am always looking for great investment opportunities with companies I can relate to, and this was literally a great fit.”

With more funds to maneuver with, Bolden envisions three additional product lines to expand into: men’s big and tall fashion, an integrated suit line, and the launching of products specifically geared towards women.

For the big and tall branding, which is currently being labeled in the early stages as Swet Tailor’s “High and Mighty” line, Bolden looks to target an often overlooked segment of the population.

“For many who are overweight in this country, it is hard to find clothing that properly fits them especially for those who are taller too,” said Bolden. “We are going to take care of these people. We are looking into certain NFL players that we have been in talks with to help us launch this once we have enough resources in hand.”

The potential suit line will align with Swet Tailor’s current strategy of utilizing material that moves with you, not against you. It will allow customers to easily utilize it on-the-go.

READ MORE: Traditional Professional Athletes Could Soon See More Opportunities With Gaming Companies

“It’ll look like a woven but it’s the kind of fabric that you can roll up into a ball, throw into your suitcase and still put on after a few minutes,” said Bolden. “With this product, you won’t feel the same restrictions as you do with a typical blazer.”

As for the women’s line, Suit Tailor’s decision-making team already feels confident it can handle this venture due to the experience carried by the marketing and investment team.

“Both our CMO David [Kranz] and our lead investor, Chris Burch, have hands-on knowledge and history with apparel and accessories, specifically within the women’s industry. We have terrific strategic advisory and we have big plans with our marketing initiatives.”

With Swet Tailor entrenched within the fashion preferences of the NFL, the brand has high hopes for its future and its ability to gain traction with more players interested in their product. In appealing to the players that so many fans embrace throughout the season, Swet Tailor will continue to provide a perfect fit for those interested in elevating their fashion to the next level.

Max Simpson is a contributing writer for Front Office Sports. A graduate from Arizona State University, Max currently works for the Reno Aces & Reno 1868 FC with time spent with Sun Devil Athletics and the Arizona Diamondbacks. For @frntofficesport, Max highlights unique partnerships, brand marketing strategies, and content activation. He can be reached at max@frntofficesport.com.

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Nimble ‘Bunch of Jerks’ Capitalize on the Power of Digital Age Marketing

In less than 24 hours, the Carolina Hurricanes turned being called a “bunch of jerks” into a marketing success with a viral t-shirt campaign.

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A strong weekend performance by the Carolina Hurricanes allowed them to be a “bunch of jerks.”

Following a 3-1 win on Friday against the Edmonton Oilers, the team celebrated with their fans in the now traditional “Storm Surge” victory celebration, among others. Playing some of the best hockey in the NHL since New Year’s Eve, the team had reason to playfully celebrate.

Hockey analyst Don Cherry, however, chastised the franchise for their actions on Saturday during “Hockey Night in Canada,” calling them “a bunch of jerks.”

Less than 24 hours later, the Hurricanes had a t-shirt go viral, showing the opportunity of capitalizing on moments in sports in the social media age.

Despite having a game to play on Saturday night, social comments started coming in an hour or two before the game and it was in the marketing department’s minds, said Mike Forman, the vice president of marketing and brand strategy for the Hurricanes.

READ MORE: Carolina Hurricanes Put Local Emphasis on New Marketing Initiatives

Following another home win Saturday, the Hurricanes’ marketing team sat down to talk over its options. The social team had changed its bios earlier in the night and had fun with the moment, but then it was time to talk about merchandise, which received quick buy-in from upper management and ownership.

“They saw it coming and gave us creative freedom,” Forman said, adding the importance of flexible, real-time marketing strategies. “It’s one of those traits that gets overlooked. You can have a great marketing plan, but if you can’t adapt on the fly and be proactive with big moments, you’ll lose out on the brand equity you’re trying to build.”

At about midnight, the team fired off an email to BreakingT President Jamie Mottram. BreakingT specializes in quick turnarounds of breaking sports moments and had previously helped the Hurricanes with a shirt for the “Storm Surge.”

“We got an email Saturday night flagging the Don Cherry moment and asking if we could act quickly to capture the moment,” Mottram said. “That’s what we do; we see a trend or moment happening in sports and we act quickly to get products to markets that fans will get excited about.”

BreakingT worked with four teams across professional leagues last year; this year the company has done work with 25 teams in the NBA, WNBA, MLB, and NHL. “Bunch of Jerks” shirts are an extreme case of speedy turnarounds, but it’s not the quickest BreakingT has operated. In 2017 they made a Washington Nationals shirt calling outfielder Michael A. Taylor “Michael A. Tater” following a broadcaster’s joke in the MLB Playoffs.

The viral capability of merchandise surrounding sports moments is a new phenomenon, and had Cherry made the “bunch of jerks” comment a decade ago, Mottram isn’t sure the business model would work.

“The comments would have a taken a while to make the rounds,” he said. “Now, it just happens immediately and everyone knows about them and the ‘Canes tapped into that and gave the fans something want.

“It’s about seeing what’s trending or exciting, positive or negative sentiment and capturing that moment and excitement with high-quality merchandise.”

READ MORE: How a Strip of Bacon Can Showcase the Power of a Rebrand

Now, however, the quick turnaround was key, Forman said, when they could have easily waited until Monday morning to chat over options. By noon on Sunday, BreakingT had presented its designs. Then, the Hurricanes had selected their choice by the afternoon and posted on social and made the shirts available on their online store. Using a local printer, t-shirts will be available at the team’s home game Tuesday.

“That would have been easy, but we would have missed momentum if we waited even 24 hours,” Forman said, still surprised even at its quick success. “We weren’t trying to waste time.”

Had the team not been at home or played well all weekend, Forman isn’t sure if the t-shirt would have happened or had the response it has — within 15 hours, more than 1,000 units have been sold across 41 states, six Canadian provinces and in several European countries.

“It’s hard not to get caught up in the ebbs and flows with team success,” Forman said. “The timing on our end was perfect. We had fun with it on social and had a good pulse on our fanbase and a strong feeling that it was something that could take off.”

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New Partnership Provides Experimental Approach for Aramark

The potential innovation in Aramark’s retail partnership with the AAF is a point of excitement for the concessionaire’s executives.

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Photo credit: Aramark

The potential innovation in Aramark’s retail partnership with the Alliance of American Football is a point of excitement for the concessionaire’s executives.

As the new football league kicks off its inaugural season this weekend with games in Orlando, San Antonio, Phoenix and Birmingham, an expansive array of retail merchandise will be on display, said Danielle Lazor, vice president of West region and national retail operations for Aramark’s sports and entertainment division.

The first games feature San Diego at San Antonio and Atlanta at Orlando, airing at 8 p.m. Saturday on CBS. The league-wide retail partnership was announced at the end of January, as Aramark will handle merchandising in all eight stadiums and ecommerce retail for the league. 

“We understand the importance of providing seamless, enjoyable shopping experiences for fans, especially during the historic, inaugural season, and are committed to delivering that for the Alliance,” said Carl Mittleman, president of Aramark’s sports and entertainment division.

READ MORE: Meet the New Creative Team for the Alliance of American Football

Discussions had been ongoing for some time, Lazor said, but the details came together rather quickly when it mattered most. The ecommerce retail sales have been active and better than anticipated, Lazor said.

“It has really exceeded our expectations and absolutely done a lot better,” she said. “There’s a lot of engagement, and the fan bases are building before our eyes.”

Lazor couldn’t speak to specific retail activations at the time, but said to expect some “fun things in the works” with the AAF.

“We’ll see them announced some activations in venues around merchandise soon,” she said. “The product line speaks for itself from a quality and fan perspective.”

Aramark has a long track record in retail operations, particularly around special events, with organizations like the National Football League and U.S. Tennis Association. Lazor said this deal is a bit special because of the league ownership of all eight teams.

The league’s aggressive technology commitment can provide Aramark further innovation on the retail side within the partnership.

“Innovation is at the forefront of what they do; it’s starting up and there’s a lot of work to do,” she said. “But innovation is built into the culture of the organization and it allows us to do something different from the product side. That will be ever-evolving as the teams and fan bases grow, but it’s a cornerstone to the partnership.”

READ MORE: Las Vegas Plays Large Role in the Alliance of American Football’s Future

Also along the lines of technological strategies for the AAF include free livestreams of the week’s games on the league’s app, as well as a robust option of integrated gaming options with real rewards. On the player side of the league, AAF offers a large bonus system and comprehensive post-football career planning.

The AAF was started by Charlie Ebersol and football Hall of Famer Bill Polian. The 10-week season will conclude with a championship weekend April 26-28 in Las Vegas.

Ebersol said in 2018 the league will feature high-quality football while also pushing the innovation in how sports leagues operate. The league’s partnership with Aramark is no different.

“We strive to continually provide fans with innovative and seamless opportunities to connect with the game, teams and players they love, and our partnership with Aramark is one way to achieve this goal,” said Ebersol, also the AAF’s CEO. “Aramark is a proven leader in the space, catering to millions of sports fans across major professional leagues and teams. By bringing on this best-in-class partner, we can drive innovation both on-site and at-home, elevating the fan experience, streamlining operations and driving sales.”

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Nike Turns App Into Store With First SNKRS Pop-Up in Atlanta

Nike’s Super Bowl strategy includes a unique sneaker experience through the SNKRS app and a “Studio of Dreams” customization hub.

Jeff Eisenband

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Nike’s SNKRS app shines in the digital sneaker marketplace. So now it’s time to enter the real world.

On January 26, Nike opened Super Bowl Week in Atlanta with the first-ever SNKRS pop-up experience. The concept is simple for SNKRS users: Scroll through the app for the shoe you want, buy it, watch the shoebox get pulled through a transparent wall and take the kicks from a bottom compartment.

Then walk out the door with everything already digitally paid for.

Like the app version, the SNKRS pop-up — which will remain open through Air Max Day on March 26, long after the Patriots or Rams lift the Lombardi Trophy — will constantly be changing inventory. Pairs that may be sold out on Nike.com or the SNKRS app can show up at the SNKRS pop-up. New releases, throwback kicks, anything is fair game. Of course, Atlanta-specific sneakers are making appearances as well.

Mirroring the app, an in-store digital ticker also keeps shoppers updated like the “SportsCenter” bottom line. The LED screen tells customers which shoes are new releases, which are low in inventory, which are sold out, etcetera.

READ MORE: Super Bowl Presents Major Opportunity for Pizza Hut

In a way, the SNKRS app is a middle-ground between traditional retail and online shopping.

“I think there’s always still some nostalgia of going in and picking out shoes and touching them and seeing them,” said Josh Benedek, Nike North America media relations director. “We’ve taken all the heavy lifting out of that. All your preferences, all your credit card payments, everything like that is already set up on your phone. You can just come here and do what you like to do, which is the fun part, looking at shoes. It makes that purchasing much easier.”

For Super Bowl week, inventory leans toward “high-heat” shoes and more general models to cater to the masses of tourists. However, after New England and Los Angeles fans leave town, Atlantans should expect even more designs geared toward the city. For the hardcore, sneakerheads, SNKRS Pass is available to those in a 25-mile radius and shock drops keep customers surprised in-store.

Oh, and don’t worry, if you want to try specific sizes, a rep can help with that. And if you don’t have the SNKRS app, you can pay in-person. But that’s not the point of the pop-up.

While SNKRS is at 711 10th Street NW, across the street, at 760 10th Street NW, Nike has rented out the Westside Cultural Arts Center for Super Bowl week. Rebranded as the “Nike Studio of Dreams,” the appointment-only space features various opportunities of creation. A customization bar allows fans to design their own football jerseys, t-shirts and sweatshirts using a design palette featuring work from local Atlanta artists Dr. Dax, FRKO, SNAX Ink and Zipporah Peay.

Nike has also partnered with Cam Kirk Studios to give fans the opportunity to see the world through the Atlanta-based artist’s mind. Kirk, a 29-year-old Morehouse College grad, has photographed Young Jeezy, 2 Chains, T.I., Schoolboy Q, Gucci Mane and Metro Boomin, among others. Visitors at the Nike Studio of Dreams can experience the same theme.

“Our Studio of Dreams Space is kind of a take off JDI (“Just Do It”), which we just celebrated our 30th anniversary of,” Benedek said. “We are empowering the consumer to reach their crazy dreams and create content. This space here allows them to be able to access content that they couldn’t before.”

In the three days leading up to the Super Bowl, the Studio of Dreams will host three “Just Do It” talks with athletes and creators. Travis Kelce, Russell Wilson and Victor Cruz will be among those sitting on panels.

And then there’s the talk that should make people emotional.

READ MORE: Natty Light’s Super Bowl Moment

“We have Deshaun Watson and Warrick Dunn, and a lot of people don’t know that Warrick Dunn, through Habitat for Humanity, helped build Deshaun Watson a house,” Benedek said.

It’s true. About 12 years ago, Dunn — who played with the Falcons for six of his 12 NFL seasons — presented Watson and his family with a fully-refurbished home. Watson and Dunn’s conversation on creation will likely go beyond sneakers and apparel.

Rounding out Nike’s Super Bowl initiatives, the brand has partnered with YouTube to bring in a green screen at the Studio of Dreams. The makeshift set will be used to help Nike athletes sharpen their craft in generating custom content. Nike is also fusing with A Ma Maniere, a locally-based luxury apparel and footwear boutique, for the week, crafting crossover merchandise at A Ma Maniere’s Atlanta location and the Studio of Dreams.

The Super Bowl provides brands like Nike a unique opportunity to connect with customers in exclusive, in-person manner. For Super Bowl LIII, the setting is Atlanta. And for Nike, that means an emphasis on exclusive sneakers and custom apparel.

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