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Wilson Makes a Play for Premium Sportswear

Wilson Sporting Goods Company is intertwined in pop culture thanks to a famous cinematic volleyball, and has been a mainstay for more than 100 years in large part due to its signature name stamped on game balls and equipment across a variety of sports.

But even classic brands know they have to bring something new to the table as consumer preferences change. For the first time, Wilson is offering athletic lifestyle apparel that aims to push consumers to “live like an athlete.”

The “Starting Lineup” collection officially launches Thursday and includes merchandise for both men and women, with prices ranging from $48 to $98. Select men’s items include a millennium crewneck sweatshirt, a Newport polo, a short-sleeve baseball tee, double day training shorts and midway travel pants. The women’s merchandise offers a fly crop sweatshirt, an everyday brami, a stance slim jogger, a limitless skirt and evolution shorts.

Many of the details were inspired by Wilson’s most iconic equipment like a tennis tee that uses a three-color pattern around the pocket to emulate the Clash racquet, the company said in a blog post.

New Wilson Sportswear items are expected to drop on a bi-weekly basis, with special collaborations planned around key moments in sport culture. The line includes an array of premium crafted sets for men and women including “French Terry Hookups” and “Woven Warmups.”

“For more than a century, Wilson has been designing equipment to the specifications required by the world’s greatest athletes,” Gordon Devin, president of Wilson Sportswear, said in a statement. “We are excited to extend our craftsmanship, history and heritage to apparel. As athletes continue to redefine themselves, Wilson is redefining the athletes’ uniform, coupling the premium performance expected from Wilson with fresh styles inspired by athletes.”

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The Starting Lineup from Wilson Sportswear is sold exclusively at in the U.S., and via the widely used WeChat platform and other brand sites in China. In the blog post, the company noted that it will drop another collection in November that incorporates the same leather used in Wilson’s genuine leather footballs.

Wilson’s direction in sportswear comes as more brands are offering premium clothes aimed at athletic-minded consumers with styles that merge fashion and culture. While the garments are built for comfort, they also are designed to look more like apparel that could be worn outside of playing sports.

But the new lifestyle line is not the only new development for the iconic brand, which will be bringing its direct-to-consumer experience beyond e-commerce. Later this year, Wilson will continue its lifestyle expansion by opening its first-ever retail locations in Chicago, New York, Beijing, Shanghai and more.

Tapping its roster of athletes and sport heritage for inspiration, Wilson says it will also collaborate with notable partners that “drive and shape culture as we know it today.”

With the launch of Wilson Sportswear, Wilson is also extending its Advisory Staff network, which comprises more than 10,000 professional athletes, coaches and teaching pros, to include a group of “esteemed luminaries” who intersect sport culture. Just like how the Advisory Staff leverages player insights to develop products that can push equipment and apparel innovation into new territories, the new members will have a hand in the creative direction of the lifestyle apparel as well.

“The Wilson Advisory Staff is a dynamic group of athletes, creatives and entrepreneurs who are greatly influencing sports and culture today. It’s such an honor to be included,” said Wilson Advisory Staff member Phillip Leyesa. “It’s incredible to see Wilson not only respect my craft as an artist, but value my opinion as a creative, to add a refreshing spin on athleisure with the new Wilson Sportswear collection. The styles are modern, versatile and can easily take anyone from the field to everyday life.”