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The NBA & Its Licensees Woo the Female Fan

By Glenn S. Demby, Esq.

As in the other pro sports leagues, the NBA and licensees are investing heavily in the female market. Women now account for 38% of the league’s fan base and 40% of its licensed apparel purchasers. True, only 10% of those apparel products are actually for females, but that ratio has tripled since 2012. “The NBA has been working with its partners to develop clothing in three categories: performance (athleisure), fashion and fan apparel,” notes NBA licensing VP Lisa Piken Koper.

It’s Not Just Alyssa Milano

Of course, the omnipresent G-III Touch by Alyssa Milano has been a long-time partner. But other NBA licensees, including UNK, Junk Food, Majestic Threads and Mighty Fine have also developed fashionable lines for women.

Retail Collaborations

Retailers such as Forever 21, Kitson’s and Jimmy Jazz carry NBA licensed women’s products. Klutch offers a line of dresses for women and little girls. One of the league’s retail highlights last year was the renewed collaboration of UNK, a trendsetter for the New York Knicks in the early 2000’s, and Forever 21on an exclusive collection of women’s apparel including fitted tank dresses, shorts and relaxed tank tops featuring the logos of popular NBA teams including the Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls, LA Clippers, LA Lakers, Miami Heat and NY Knicks.   

Taking It High End

The league has also tabbed a handful of fashion designers to develop high-end female apparel like Alina Villasante whose Peace Love World luxury label products have appeared on some of the world’s most famous women, including Oprah, Jennifer Lopez and Kim Kardashian, and Rachel Roy for a collaboration with then Knick Amar’e Stoudemire for a “court-side chic” collection of high-end sports apparel for women sold on “Our female fans are stylish and aware of fashion trends, but we understand that not all women are the same,” notes Piken Koper.

Moms and Kids

The NBA also offers maternity, plus sizes, junior and kids sizes in a variety of styles and fabrics, as well as swimwear, home goods, and accessories including handbags and jewelry. In 2015, the NBA granted Logo Brands (formerly called Logo Chair, Inc.) license rights for a large assortment of hard and soft lines, including women’s fashion totes, blankets and throws.  

This story is an excerpt from The Licensing Letter’s brand new 2016 Sports Licensing Report.


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