By Matt Bagdat,
Sports Business Editor
Since 2005, Major League Baseball’s uniforms have been supplied by Majestic, a company based out of Easton, Pennsylvania with nearly 500 employees. Due to their contract expiring in 2019, the league has been looking to find a new supplier for their apparel. This past week, Under Armour (NYSE:UA) signed a deal with Major League Baseball to provide all of its uniforms and apparel at the start of the 2020 season. While the terms were not yet disclosed, this deal marks the brand’s first major professional sports uniform deal, according to ESPN. The company had made a bid to be the official provider of the NBA’s uniforms starting in the 2017-18 season, however they were outbid by Nike.
As a result of the new deal, Under Armour’s biggest competitor, Nike, will no longer be providing the under layer shirts worn by players for the past seven seasons. Under Armour will make all of the apparel, except for headwear, which will still be provided by New Era. This deal also gives Fanatics the rights to customize and sell jerseys at retail price. Already the official partner for multiple professional sports leagues, Fanatics is the largest online sports gear seller in the nation.
This move is another large step for Under Armour. The brand that was founded by Kevin Plank in 1996 has been on the rise, competing with the likes of Nike and Adidas atop the sporting apparel industry. Signing this deal with Major League Baseball is a move that will certainly help improve their stock. Within the past couple of years, the brand has signed major endorsement deals with top athletes such as Stephen Curry, Jordan Spieth, Cam Newton, and Bryce Harper in an effort to create more brand recognition.
They have also become the official athletic apparel provider of a number of notable universities such as The University of Notre Dame, The University and Wisconsin, and Boston College, among others. The brand has made other attempts to expand by starting its own luxury clothing line, which it unveiled back in September. The sponsorship with Bryce Harper is extremely important, as both he and Clayton Kershaw, also signed by Under Armour, are two of the biggest names in baseball.
The MLB signing with Under Armour will certainly have a large effect on Majestic, as indicated by NPD Group sports analyst Matt Powell. Powell states, “The MLB business represents the lion’s share of Majestic’s portfolio. It’s the end of an era for Majestic.” Times will be difficult for Majestic, as it will be losing most of its business. However, the deal between Major League Baseball and Under Armour is another major step for the emerging American brand.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, October 25th print edition.
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