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Puma Cashes in on Esports Craze with New Gaming Gear Collab

Video games have been a hit with fans young and old since their inception. But the explosive world of esports is proving to be more than just a popular pastime.

Now, fashion brands are now gunning to get in on the action with garb geared toward gamers. On Thursday, Puma announced a long-term partnership with LA-based esports organization Cloud9, which organizes gaming leagues and events.

The German athletic brand has released a collection of branded Cloud9 merch, ranging from logo-laden leggings to T-shirts, joggers, zip-ups and hoodies. The line features styles for men and women, priced between $25-$75. Items are available for purchase through both Puma and Cloud9’s websites.

In January, Puma and Cloud9 inked a sponsorship deal, giving Puma the opportunity to outfit league players with game-day gear. Now, the two brands have expanded the collaboration, signing a multi-year deal that will make gaming apparel a fixture in Puma’s cadre of athleticwear. New releases are slated to roll out throughout the fall and into 2020.

The brands announced the launch of “C9 x Puma Edition 1” on Thursday, promoting the partnership with a video that depicts gaming fans breaking free from the confines of their daily responsibilities and stagnant routines to suit up in their new, all-black gear.

The short film, entitled “#DAREYOU,” encourages people of all genders, races and backgrounds to go against the mold, Puma and Cloud9 said in a joint release.

“This week’s apparel launch with Puma allows us to affect a broader culture,” Jordan Udko, executive vice president of commercial partnerships for Cloud9, said. “Being able to transcend esports and elevate our brand within a broader global audience is the natural evolution of the growth of Cloud9.”

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Recently released data from the Influencer Marketing Club revealed that 380 million people globally watched 6.6 billion hours of esports content in 2018 alone. The category’s booming popularity has garnered the attention of retail and fashion execs, who are now striving to cash in on the craze.

Last week, gaming accessories company HyperX (which makes headphones, keyboards, mice, and more) announced a collaboration with heritage athleticwear brand Champion. The capsule collection of crewneck sweatshirts, hoodies and t-shirts will drop Nov. 1.

“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, said.

And last week, Simon Property Group, which owns more mall and shopping center real estate than any firm in the U.S., announced the formation of the The Simon Cup esports tournament. Co-produced by Allied Esports, the gaming event will be held at Simon commercial properties in New York and Los Angeles.

“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,” the company’s chief marketing officer, Mikael Thygesen, explained.