With two high-profile collaborations between fashion and esports announced in a single day, the time for brands to capitalize on the growing popularity of professional gaming may be now.
On Thursday, Nike and T1 Entertainment & Sports agreed to form a long-term partnership in which Nike would sponsor the gaming organization, including commitments to develop training facilities to “enhance the athletic capabilities of T1’s players and teams.”
“Together we are thrilled to bring innovation to the next level through Nike’s premier training programs and performance wear that will help maximize our players’ potential and strengthen the longevity of their careers,” Joe Marsh, CEO of T1, said in a statement. “Nike is renowned for supporting elite athletes of all types and we are excited to collaborate on apparel for our teams and fans to celebrate T1 in every corner of the world,”
Under the terms of the partnership, T1 will gain access to cutting-edge facilities provided by Nike while the performance brand will have exclusive rights to design and sell apparel for the entertainment group’s teams.
“We’re interested in understanding and learning more about the relationship between improved physical fitness and athleticism as it relates to gaming,” Brant Hirst, marketing director at Nike Korea, said. “These athletes have unique skill sets that we believe we can help them improve through tailored training methods.”
Meanwhile, the Overwatch League had some news of its own. Jeff Staple—a streetwear designer known for sneaker collabs and his label, Staple Designs—will be participating in a “first-of-its-kind” collaboration with the gaming league to create an authentic player kit for esports athletes.
Throughout the design process, Staple incorporated feedback from athletes in the league, which is the overarching organization governing competitive play involved with the first-person-shooter “Overwatch.”
“I have been observing esports for years and am a huge fan of what Overwatch League has been able to accomplish, so when they asked me to design their new kits, I was stoked,” Staple said. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring the best of the esports and streetwear worlds together to create something totally unique and ground-breaking.”
“The kits are not only specifically engineered to perform to players’ specifications, but they’re also designed to look great outside the arena,” he added.
Staple’s first Overwatch League capsule will include a short-sleeve jersey, a long-sleeve jersey, a jacket, compression sleeves, a hat and a beanie. Each of the league’s 20 teams will be represented in the collection.