SPORTS IN FASHION: THE STUDENT’S VIEW VS. THE ATHLETES
SPENCYR ARONSON & ISHITA KODE
COVER ART: KENDALL SINGER
Sports play an incredible role within the lives of countless individuals across the country. Whether you are a gifted athlete who has played for years, or a dedicated fan who cheers on their team from the sidelines, there is no denying that sports have impacted each and every one of us. In the same way that sports allows fans to showcase their passion, the fashion industry acts as an outlet for consumers to express themselves through clothing. In recent years, the fashion industry has begun to thrive within the athletic world. According to Statista, the U.S. sports apparel market was valued at $105.1 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach $113.4 billion by the end of 2021. As these industries continue to grow together, many students and athletes around the country are becoming more and more interested in pursuing careers within both of these fields. We conducted a series of interviews to uncover what the intersection of sport, fashion and business means to three individuals on the U of M campus.
For student athletes themselves, the role of fashion within their day-to-day lives takes shape in various ways. Sierra Brooks is a rising junior and upcoming co-captain on the women’s gymnastics team—the same team that just won the 2021 NCAA Championship for the first time in both program and conference history. Sierra is majoring in business administration with interests in consulting, analytics, and marketing. When asked what the intersection of sports, fashion and business means to her, she explained that the overlap of these three fields is extremely unique to every individual. Sierra is fascinated by watching the business side of sports correspond with the fashion side, as in observing what her coaches and fellow athletes wear and how that impacts business decisions. “It is especially interesting in that you're mixing the athletic side, corporate side, and personal side of an individual, which is something that is rarely seen,” says Sierra.
We next spoke with Hannah Klein, who is a current sophomore on the dance team. She is also majoring in business, which has already impacted her greatly: “Sports and fashion play a significant role in my future business goals. As someone who is interested in marketing in the retail space, it has become clear to me that athletes are a popular avenue to promote certain fashion products.”
Sierra and Hannah have their own perspectives on athleisure as a growing market. It is worth noting that the global athleisure market size is projected to touch $517.5 billion by the year 2025, according to a report by Million Insights. Sierra, who rarely dresses formally, remarked, “I enjoy wearing athleisure and staying on the comfier side of clothing. Being an athlete has given me this confidence to wear what I want and to be proud of who I am and my abilities.” For Hannah, fashion is all about “what makes me the most comfortable and the best version of myself. Some days that means a hoodie and leggings, and other days it’s jeans and a cute top with some layered necklaces. Athletes are stereotypically perceived to dress a certain way (usually casual, athletic attire/team gear) and are also at times limited to what we can wear based on sponsorship contracts, so when I have the chance to wear what I feel allows me to express my own sense of style, I try to capitalize on that opportunity.”
Lastly, we interviewed Emily Ross, a junior majoring in sports management. Emily is the Summit Experience Manager for the Michigan Fashion Media Summit, as well as an active member of the Sport Business Association. When reflecting on her interest in these industries, Emily expressed how special it is to be able to combine all of her passions into one field. More specifically, this intersection means being at the cutting edge of pop culture, trends, and what is happening in the sports and fashion world as well as staying relevant. Emily further explained: “I love sports and want to go into that business because of the extremely active and involved consumer base it has. I believe fashion can be leveraged and amplified through sports, whether that is a property or specific talent, and I hope to get into the space somehow.”
Emily’s interest in these fields, specifically business, has “helped facilitate my career aspirations and passion for sport and fashion by providing me with a background and foundation for where I want to go. Because I am not an innately gifted athlete nor artistically talented, getting into the business of sports and fashion has allowed me to do what I love. Additionally, being a sport management student with an interest in fashion has allowed me to stand out within my program and has allowed me to differentiate myself amongst my peers!” Being involved in highly established organizations on campus, such as SBA and MFMS, has “opened my eyes to what is out in the real world. I am gaining different insights, ideas, and perspectives in both of these clubs that I am able to combine together which is really cool to see and envision!” Emily, Hannah and Sienna have all provided unique perspectives which demonstrate the advantages of pursuing one’s passions together. Whether that be the fashion and sport industries, or any other fields, combining what you love most can only strengthen your overall potential as a growing professional in today's day and age.