Nike: A closer look at the launch of football jerseys for national teams
Two birds with one stone: Nike's global teams for its “Nike Football” arm will be in Paris this week. A great opportunity to gather partners, football community representatives, coaches and friends of the brand from around the world for the Nike FC summit from September 15 to 19. A seminar to reflect on the future of football, but also to reveal the new jerseys for the French national team this Thursday.
To present the new shoe models and the new jerseys for the French football team, Nike has chosen its Parisian premises, located in the same building as its House of Innovation on the Champs Elysées. For the next World Cup, which will take place from November 20 to December 18 in Qatar, the American brand will supply no less than 14 of the 32 teams in the competition with their kits.
While the manager of the Nike Football brand teams, Alicia Jenkins, did not disclose the increase in the group's marketing budgets for the World Cup, she said that the strategy blends the global and the local, the digital and the physical. "We have been working for over two years on this project. It involves international activation and local plans with athletes and federations. Of course, we will of course have highlights in store and online. Moreover, this requires a very reactive team to prepare content as close as possible to the news and the event."
On the technical side the brand has created another technology for the jerseys made for upcoming international events. Nike claims to use 100% recycled polyester for these products with integrated Dri-fit Adv technology. This combines a reduction in the number of seams on the product with the use of an anti-moisture process.
“We started working on these projects two years ago," explained Aaron Barnett, senior product manager for football apparel, who was involved in the creation of France's sailor jersey a few years ago. "We are extending the Dri-fit Adv technology to football. It is the best of our threads, our weaves and we have been able to optimize the use of our technologies. We used body-mapping. We scanned the heat zones on the bodies of men and women. For the first time, we were able to produce a four-dimensional design."
The first French jersey, in midnight blue with gold details, was leaked during the summer. This one is sober and elegant. Although Nike's American teams develop the products, they work in collaboration with the local teams of each national team.
As such, South Korea's second jersey is a nod to the Hallyu wave, a strong cultural phenomenon for the country, and Brazil's jersey mimics a jaguar’s coat. For France, a “Toile de Jouy” effect was created on the white jersey. Places or important moments in the history of France are printed in very light blue.
“On the Home shirt we put an oak leaf jacquard motif and symbols of solidarity and peace. For the Away jersey, we came up with eight designs, each with a strong element for each French player. And in the collar, we inserted the phrase 'Our differences unite us,' which celebrates diversity."
On the production side, the brand has come across somes challenges with production and logistics chains that have presented difficulties for months in Asia. This is a particular concern for the new models of shoes, whose release date on the market is not yet known, but also its organizational delivery capacity for the jerseys of the teams.
"Since summer 2021, we have anticipated and planned to have the products for the tournament. It hasn't been perfect, of course, but we're close. And we will be able to deliver the products between the launch and the tournament," said Barnett.
The sports giant has therefore had to anticipate a production process with the current global context in mind. It has also had to develop a more flexible model than in the past, as previous incidents have left their mark, such as the French jerseys going out of stock during France's victory in 2018. The uncertainty of how many football fans will boycott the World Cup in Qatar and its merchandise also weighs heavily.
"We believe in the power of sport and we think that as a strong voice in the industry we help build bridges; make cultures meet. We see that football is picking up and people are very keen, what with the women's Euro football tournament, which was great," commented the brand.
The brand also pointed out: "For this World Cup, we have not reduced our quantities. We have already launched the Brazil kit and there is a real craze. We are ready to manage the fluctuations. We have production capacity that we can mobilise in Europe, Asia and America."
Nike has also increased its range of lifestyle products. The tracksuits and training shirts are of course present in addition to the match outfits, but the offer is strengthened for men and women with pocket shirts enhanced with technical details and hoodies, but above all beautiful pieces with sleeves such as a short parka and a bomber with an inner lining using the print of the white jersey, in black. The support for the French team is marked with a discreet inscription on a gold steel patch on the heart. "This lifestyle part is really fun and it adds to the depth of the stories we tell in the collections," said Barnett.
These products have been available since September 15 on the Nike website and that of the French Football Federation. They will then be available at listed retailers, and thus through a lifestyle network, from September 21.
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