The NFL Wants Women…To Buy Its Clothes


The NFL has taken note of the power of female consumers, and launched a new collection of apparel and accessories designed specifically for women. Until now, football and its accompanying accoutrements have been designed in sizes and shapes that are less than flattering, and appeal to an overwhelmingly male consumer base. But the number of women watching professional football (currently 44% of all viewers) is rising fast, and the NFL saw a clear opportunity.

According to Tracey Bleczinski, the NFL’s vice president of apparel, “the league’s women’s apparel business has doubled since 2004,” though she did not reveal total annual sales revenue.

The ad campaign’s tagline — “Who says football isn’t pretty?” — isn’t subtle, and the NFL is making no bones about blatantly targeting female consumers. “It’s kind of like our tag line ‘love your team without looking like you’re on it.’ We’re giving women the opportunity to be themselves and still love the game,” said Bleczinski.

But can clothes covered in sports logos ever escape the sportswear category and move into fashion forward-territory? And, more importantly, is there a market for them? The High Low says yes -– Americans’ love for football has been long and enduring, and consumers of both sexes have shown a willingness to wear logos of their favorite teams. And women want cute, well-fitting clothes to wear on game day, and throughout football season.

And the NFL clearly agrees — the league has been gathering extensive market research on which stores women visit, the magazines they read, and other female shopping interests since 2006. The NFL ladies line has been designed to target women with a wide range of body types, including the maternity and plus-sized set. Thousands of logo-emblazoned items launched this year at 3,000 stores such as Victoria’s Secret and Destination Maternity, which sell the limited-edition gear both in-store and online. Products include flip-flops and yoga mats that put a feminine spin on those infamous team logos with the addition of rhinestone accents or foil lettering.

Over $10 million has been put into a marketing campaign that also features a new Web site and TV ads in heavy rotation. According to the LA Times, one page on the NFL’s Web site “encourages women to submit videos of themselves wearing the gear while answering the question, ‘How do you strut your fit?’”

October issues of InStyle, Shape, People, Marie Claire and Sports Illustrated will reveal print ads for the campaign.

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