According to the Influencer Marketing Club, 380 million people around the world watched around 6.6 billion hours of esports content in 2018—a fact that is pushing many in the fashion and retail industry to embrace the sport’s massive popularity and cash in on its explosive growth.
On Thursday, the nation’s largest mall real estate company, Simon Property Group, announced plans to turn some of its mixed-use space into the grounds for a brand new esports tournament. The Simon Cup, co-produced by Allied Esports, will be held in New York and Los Angeles.
The tournament will include a Fortnite competition and appearances by members of the popular Esports team, FaZe Clan, with a $50,000 shopping spree waiting as a reward for the winner of a Grand Final tournament at HyperX Esports Arena Las Vegas at the Luxor Hotel & Casino.
Simon’s chief marketing officer Mikael Thygesen said the tournament will be a part of its larger efforts to convert the property group’s mixed-use space into a communal activity for local shoppers, a move that comes as shopping centers shy away from struggling specialty stores like clothing chains.
“The Simon Cup is another unique, innovative way to further enhance the communal aspect of our centers in an exciting, interesting format that appeals to a wide variety of visitors,” Thygesen said. “Simon centers play a powerful role as community gathering spaces and we are perfectly poised to create the types of venues and experiences that gamers love.”
HyperX, the gaming accessories division of Kingston Technology Co., which makes flash drives and other computer memory products, is not only the main sponsor of the Las Vegas arena but also a participant in another esports-theme collaboration with Champion Athleticwear.
In a separate announcement on Thursday, Champion and HyperX revealed a new collaboration that will produce a capsule of crewneck sweatshirts, hoodies and t-shirts for gamers and esports loyalists. The collection hews to a rose gold color scheme and will feature a composite logo built from the iconic imagery of each brand.
The capsule will be the first apparel collaboration for HyperX.
“Knowing that HyperX fans, and gamers in general, crave clothing which allows them to express themselves and their passions—we couldn’t be more excited that Champion will be HyperX’s first clothing collaboration,” Stephanie Winkler, strategic marketing manager at HyperX, said in a statement. “Champion is an authentic American brand with 100 years of relevance in the lifestyle market; the brand’s influence and knack for creating on-trend looks will help style-conscious gamers proudly display their individuality.”
The collection will include Champion apparel designs such as the Reverse Weave hoodie and crewneck, along with its classic cotton tee. The pair said their collaboration would both provide a pathway for HyperX to become a premier gaming lifestyle brand and open up Champion’s access to the broader gaming audience.
“Champion has remained at the forefront of sports for the last century and we look to this partnership to forge a path on the cutting edge of esports for us going forward,” David Robertson, Champion Athleticwear’s director of brand marketing, added. “HyperX is an integral part of the esports community and we’re elated to collaborate with them on this capsule collection. Every step of the design process has been an exhilarating chance for us to play with new colors and designs that are both functional and stylish.”
The capsule will go on sale through Champion’s website and during the second annual Posty Fest music festival on Nov. 2 inside the HyperX mobile arena, which will be stationed outside of AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Gaming’s broad and burgeoning appeal is attracting interest not just from mass-market brands like Champion but from stalwarts in the luxury sector as well. In September, the Washington Post reported that Louis Vuitton would begin designing virtual outfits for the characters found in the Riot Games title “League of Legends.”
Creative director Nicolas Ghesquière designed new “skins” for the virtual characters alongside a real-life apparel capsule. The luxury brand also designed a bespoke case to store the grand prize trophy of the title’s largest tournament, the Summoner Cup.