Inside Wilson’s new sportswear line for men


Wilson Sportswear

Wilson makes just about all sports equipment, but most people only think of their volleyballs. (Of course, that doesn’t help the steps a Castawayon the theme of Tom Hank’s best friend, but how can you not take advantage of it?) But you can only sell a limited number of replicas of movies before the company hits a saturation point. This apparently happened on Monday, May 24, when the century-old Chicago-based company announced it was entering the lifestyle clothing business. Welcome, Wilson Sportswear, which is immediately available online in the United States and China.

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“We are delighted to extend our craftsmanship, history and heritage to apparel,” said Gordon Devin, President of Wilson Sportswear, in a statement. “As athletes continue to redefine themselves, Wilson is redefining the athlete’s uniform, combining the high-end performance expected from Wilson with fresh styles inspired by athletes.

Is it sportswear? Athleisure? Catnip Hype-beast? Yes to all. In its post, the company claimed it had tapped into a roster of more than 10,000 athletes, entrepreneurs and education professionals to help launch and grow the line. While around twenty men’s pieces are already live, bi-weekly “drops”, which should hint at the state of mind, are on the way, which will draw from this list of his myriad members of the community for partnerships and activations. Instagram influencer Beija Velez, musician Kelley james, and nonprofit CEO Jahmal Cole are just a few of those that the company has contracted.

Wilson’s stint in the fashion world shouldn’t come as a surprise; Champion Sportswear, who also has a century under his belt, launched his highly successful collaboration with Todd Snyder in 2013, and since then has only widened and broken the line, leading to more fashion collaborations (Rick Owens, Craig Green and BEAMS, among others) as well as Champion x Snyder sub-collaborations with PRIDE, Peanuts and Brooklyn Circus. If Wilson could tap into a fraction of the traction Champion has already gained, that would be a huge success, as well as a vital diversification of his brand.

Wilson Sportswear

It should be a big year for Wilson, who simultaneously announced plans for physical locations around the world, including Chicago, New York, Beijing and Shanghai. Besides its sportswear line, shoppers will also be able to browse an organized amount of its sports equipment. The company has yet to announce any openings for any of these sites.

While the full range of Wilson Sportswear is worth a look (check out lookbook 001 here), two pieces particularly caught our attention. The first is his Midway Travel Pants, an athletic fit jogger with cargo pockets. Crafted from a fine synthetic fabric with a ton of stretch, it’s the perfect weight for casual summer activities. The other is the Newport Zip Henley. This curiosity evokes vintage sportswear and the strong men of yesteryear, but its distinction lies in the subtlety: a banded collar and a zipped half-placket with a loose and modern cut. It’s bold but not loud.

Large companies are sensitive to inertia: modernization can take forever. But once the gears move, it’s just as difficult to stop. For Wilson, a hundred years late, his Sportswear line is a long time coming. But now that he’s here, we can’t wait to see what he does next.

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