Championship club Aston Villa has claimed a first for the English football market by agreeing a kit partnership with online sports apparel and merchandise retailer Fanatics, and menswear brand Luke 1977.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it will commence with the 2018-19 season as US sportswear brand Under Armour exits as Villa’s kit partner.
The Birmingham-based club said it will become the first English team to adopt a three-party agreement with a manufacturer of sporting apparel and a fashion brand. The arrangement sees Fanatics extend its relationship with the club, by becoming the official kit manufacturer while continuing to deliver its multi-channel retail capability, including management of the store at Villa Park stadium.
Luke 1977, whose creative director is Villa fan Luke Roper (left of picture), worked collaboratively with Villa and Fanatics on the design element of the club’s 2018-19 kit.
As both retail partner and kit manufacturer, Fanatics will operate a full vertical-manufacturing model, meaning the new kit, bearing the Luke 1977 brand logo, will be managed by a single company from production to point-of-sale.
Aston Villa’s chief commercial officer, Luke Organ (centre of picture), said: “Traditional routes often leave the club lacking an element of creative input, we wanted to take back control of the look and feel of the strip for our fans. We believe this partnership will further allow us to engage with the fans to a much greater extent than previously experienced with manufacturing partners.
“As a club we are determined to lead the industry in every way that benefits our fans. We continually innovate off the field, providing the very best fan experience we can.”
Fanatics International managing director, Ed Boardman, added: “The design process was led by our product development team and overall, the new arrangement reflects a unique manufacturing model that offers collaborative opportunities for fashion-led brands such as Luke to enter this previously inaccessible sport.”
Villa currently sits fourth in the second-tier Championship with two games to go. While automatic promotion is still possible, it is more likely the club will have to settle for a place in the end of season playoffs for promotion to the Premier League.