Saturday, October 22, 2011

Fashion: Kia ora from the future

As part of a new feature on a rugby life,  I am proud to introduce an insight into rugby fashion brought to you by Bakline.

Kia ora from the future

With the culmination of the Rugby World Cup ending tomorrow, the 2011 year has proven to be a noteworthy one for rugby fashion. The battles waged on the pitch during the tournament began transcending across borders, court rooms and retail outlets before the event even started. While fans of the game watch replays on Rugby Dump to pass time at the office, our time at Bakline was busy watching the trends of the insight and controversy within the fashion world of rugby.

To kickstart the year, it was announced that a people's champion, Jim Carlberg of Rugby America, Ltd. in a David vs. Goliath scenario fought the Ralph Lauren Company in it's defense to keep the word "Rugby" out of Ralph Lauren's greedy portfolio of copyrights. Imagine, Ralph Lauren wanted to put a stop to all the brands out there from using "rugby" on their apparel. The chutzpah. Thankfully, a level-headed Judge in the USA thought RL's claim to be whack and gave the six year legal battle victory to Mr. Carlberg. Thank him if see him about.

Springboks RWC 2011 Jersey
The next battle waged, well several, was in South Africa. The beloved Springbok is the epitome of pride for many in South Africa. Although the icon was in existence long before the Apartheid went into existence, the current government wants to make all national teams consistent with the Protea and decided to move the Springbok emblem from the left chest. The jersey maker, Canterbury has their logo front and center - but the most important icon to rugby fans was cast to the sleeve during the tournament. To add further insult to the furor was a legislative member of the ANC government called on his peers and country men to boycott wearing the jersey for its made in China and not locally by the fabric mills within SA. Tough battle we say.

A similar story of politics and rugby fashion happened in New Zealand when MP Clare Curran wore a Highlanders jersey in session and was asked to leave for breaching dress code conduct. Her reason was highlighting the protest of the change in kit colors from blue and yellow to lime green. The passion!

England 7s National Team
Speaking of colors, who can forget England's "tiger" sevens kit or the debacle surrounding the English alternate "all black" kit. This, we think, is one of the biggest fashion stories of 2011. When England and Nike announced the all black kit, fans across the world on both sides criticized the marketing move as both offensive and flattering to the New Zealand All Blacks. Should we remind our readers that New Zealand's alternate kit is completely all white and Wales got in on the fun too with a near complete, all black away kit as well. It was probably just a fashion conspiracy to get the English to look like All Blacks supporters!

Which leads us to the tournament hosts. Adidas and retailers in New Zealand put the much anticipated All Black jersey up for sale at rather astronomical prices. In the home nation, the jersey asking price hovered around $220 NZ dollars (about $180 US) and online with World Rugby Shop for $89 US. This created huge uproar from fans as this price fluctuation showed the cracks in the marketing from Adidas. Obviously, New Zealand has a captured audience on an island and when you mix the pinnacle of rugby competitions in the land of the best team, you have a goldmine to suck dry. Some retailers bent on their profits to appeal to the fans but nevertheless - the support behind the All Blacks is immense and reports show the jersey is selling better than expected.

Oh, and thought that fancy new All Blacks jersey was indestructible? This one is for you ladies.

About the author: Bakline, Inc. is an American based sportswear and lifestyle company. Bakline Rugby is a Bakline, Inc. company brand with sales both domestic and international.

You can learn more about Bakline from President and Co-Founder Rob Schnabel who we interviewed in Podcast Episode 10.

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