Nostalgic sportswear labels like Champion, Fila and Umbro brought their A-games to the Agenda Show in Las Vegas this week in an effort to maintain the buzz surrounding the category well into Spring ’19.
The brands capitalized on consumers’ renewed interest in heritage sport brands by reissuing archival designs and revamping old favorites in colorways and materials.
Champion is stretching its legs with an expanded range of sneakers, sport slides, backpacks and fanny packs for Spring ’19. The brand, which will celebrate its centennial in 2019, is also marketing the 80th anniversary of its signature Reverse Weave sweatshirt. At Agenda, Champion presented an array of vintage sweatshirts collected by Los Angeles-based vintage dealer Tried & True Co.
“That’s what kept the brand going—collectors kept it alive underground,” Manny Martinez, Champion’s head of marketing, said.
New threads serve a purpose, too. For Spring ’19, Champion’s men’s line offers indigo-color tie-dye jerseys and T-shirts, long-sleeve shirts with blown up or deconstructed logos and branded basketball and baseball jerseys. The brand also offers ’70s style velour T-shirts and jackets.
Champion’s playful women’s collection includes nylon jackets and track pants—including bell bottom track pants—in a mix of sorbet colors, classic red and blue, and trompe l’oeil denim prints. The denim motif is combined with white, navy and deconstructed logo prints. Women’s sweatshirts feature logos, redone as child-like bubble lettering and artistic sketches.
Meanwhile, Fila is building on the success of the Disruptor, the chunky bottom all-white sneaker from the ’90s, by introducing fashion colors for Spring ’19. A cascade of bright summery colors like orange, pink and yellow—with monochromatic uppers and outsoles—are new for the season. The colors complement Fila’s women’s apparel collection, which is largely based on pastels and unexpected color combinations.
While the brand offers a deep range of its signature blue, red and white logo apparel—a sequin Fila basketball jersey is a knockout—the collection gains some extra personality with ’80s and ’90s colorways.
Cropped windbreakers take on a vintage appearance with aged pastel combinations of pink, yellow and lavender. Short running shorts are offered in shiny silvery lavender; velour crop tops make a statement in bright yellow and orange and black and white checkerboard patterns add contrast.
The men’s side of Fila’s business revisits similar throwback ideas, including a colorful ’80s fleece set. A quilted jacket is split down the middle with one half lavender and the other pale blue. A series of separates like track pants and polos are done up in a bold teal and green golfer plaid.
Fila breaks from its sport roots with a three-piece collection of men’s denim. The capsule collection is inspired by archival designs originating from the brand’s Biella, Italy roots. The lightweight, light wash items include Fila’s take on the “shacket,” a pair of drop crotch denim trousers, elastic waist shorts and a denim version of a windbreaker.
Umbro isn’t relying on manufactured heritage looks to capitalize on the ’80s and ’90s sportswear trend. The 94-year-old heritage soccer brand has plenty of archival designs to source inspiration, Pete Sparaco, Umbro senior director of sales, said.
“We’re a true retro brand,” he added. The brand is gaining momentum thanks to interest from mall retailers like PacSun, Urban Outfitters and Zumiez.
A series of reissued windbreaker sets and checkerboard print items—the brand’s signature—appeals the nostalgia-loving consumer, while a new Spring ’19 line offers fresh ways to wear the OG brand. The checkboard print appears as a subtle stripe down the sleeve of a jacket, as well as an all-over print on a long-sleeve shirt. Other items have the brand’s hometown, Manchester, boldly displayed across the chest.
While archival designs played with contrasting colors, new windbreakers have simplified designs. For example, a red half-zip windbreaker features block letters and taping down the sleeve. Taping, Sparaco said, is big in the marketplace, but it’s been part of Umbro since the very beginning. He added that even high level soccer teams in Europe are currently wearing it on the field.