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Athletes are a Fashionable Business

Updated: Jan 24

Shut up and Dribble. Those words from Laura Ingraham aimed at LeBron James when he dared to have political opinions have become a rallying cry for athletes to shed the Jock persona and openly pursue interests away from the court, field, or pitch. While this moment was freeing for athletes, their pursuit of life beyond the game has certainly not come without criticism.

The world of High Fashion has been a beacon for many athletes to move towards. While the Fashion Houses and the Athletes are both winners in these partnerships, the Athletes seem to have more to "lose". They won't trip and fall walking in a show. Their latest ad campaign won't contain spelling mistakes or embarrassing photos. The clothes will absolutely look great. But, if that athlete has a bad game, a rough run of fixtures, or a slump, the reason most easily given is these "off the field interests".

Shedeur and Shilo Sanders walked in the Louis Vuitton show. LeBron James is officially a Louis Vuitton ambassador along with Jude Bellingham. Jack Grealish is an ambassador for Gucci. Marcus Rashford works with Burberry. Travis Kelce shouts out his designers like Teddy VonRanson. Erling Haaland is aligned with Dolce & Gabanna. The list could continue for the remainder of this post.

Sports Business Class - - What value do athletes bring to these Fashion Brands? How do these relationships help to build both Brands? Why would Fashion want or need to position their brand with sport? For athletes, is the added spotlight, criticism, and pressure worth it for these partnerships? If you were an agent, how would you advise clients to operate in this space? Finally - for a bit more understanding and empathy, write an open letter to fans in support of athletes leaning into non-sporting ventures.

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