The NHL has announced that it will be partnering with Fanatics to produce its official jerseys. This marks a significant shift in the league’s approach to merchandise production.
Fanatics is a well-known sports merchandise retailer that has made a name for itself in recent years with its innovative approach to jersey design and production. The company already produces a wide range of jerseys for several major sports leagues, including the NFL and NBA.
The NHL’s decision to partner with Fanatics is a significant one, as it represents a shift away from the league’s traditional approach to merchandise production
Adidas has been the NHL’s official on-ice uniform outfitter since 2017-18. However, Fanatics and the NHL have partnered together for several years on fan apparel, headwear, replica jerseys, licensed memorabilia and more in stores and online.
In the past, the NHL has worked with individual teams and apparel manufacturers to produce jerseys, resulting in a lack of consistency and often limited availability of certain designs. By partnering with Fanatics, the NHL will be able to offer a wider range of designs and styles, and ensure that fans have access to the jerseys they want.
One of the most significant benefits of the partnership between the NHL and Fanatics is the speed and flexibility it will offer. Fanatics has invested heavily in technology and infrastructure, which means that it can produce jerseys quickly and efficiently. This will enable the NHL to respond quickly to new trends and demands, and ensure that fans are always able to get their hands on the latest jerseys.
Another benefit of the partnership is the increased focus on sustainability. Fanatics has made a commitment to producing jerseys that are environmentally friendly, using materials and processes that minimize waste and reduce the carbon footprint of production. This is an important consideration for many fans, who are increasingly concerned about the impact of their purchasing decisions on the planet.
Many fans have expressed their concerns have had their in their own Fanatics experiences. Complaints about the quality of items are vast and many, and that’s a major issue when you’re talking about a big-ticket item like a hockey jersey. Tuesday’s news, even though those quality issues are unlikely to pop up for players, is a huge, long-term reminder of a bad retail experience for a huge chunk of the league’s core fan base.
Sean Gentile of the Athletic dives into deep detail on his personal experience with the brand and gives more insight why some NHL fans are furious with the decision.
“The appeal of the business model — to leagues, at least — is clear. Fanatics makes stuff fast. They make stuff efficiently. They’re great at making it easy for people to buy their stuff”, he says.
Fans were quick to take to Twitter to post about their less-than favourable experiences with Fanatics, including this one user who was sent a New York Islanders top with the correct lettering but incorrect logo.
Or another user who was sent a misspelled Jonathan Toews jersey, and was instead exchanged for a completely different jersey.
Commissioner Gary Bettman and the NHL have locked themselves in for another long-term deal and fans can only hope that the quality from their fan-wear can be improved over the next 10 years but many are already skeptical that the NHL has backed themselves into another long-term debacle for their fans.