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Nike and Fanatics team up to make NCAA fan merchandise

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Fanatics, a global digital sports platform, has inked a long-term exclusive deal with athletic wear maker Nike to make college sports apparel for a "select group" of colleges and universities.

  • It's an expansion of an existing partnership and will begin in the summer of 2024, per a Wednesday CNBC report, which Fanatics confirmed to Axios.

Why it matters: The partnership pairs two of the most important players in the production of fan merchandise for the college sports market.

Details: In particular, Fanatics will design and manufacture products such as fan apparel, including replica jerseys and sideline apparel, as well as headwear and women's fan gear, it says.

  • The agreement allows both companies to focus on their areas of specialization — Nike on product innovation and performance products, and Fanatics on a broad assortment of fan merchandise, Fanatics explains.
  • And it will entail collaboration with Fanatics' college division.

Of note: One area of focus for the partnership is an investment in Nike's women's apparel business.

What they're saying: "We are proud to expand our long-standing partnership with Nike and implement our innovative vertical commerce model across their preeminent roster of universities," says Doug Mack, CEO of Fanatics Commerce and vice chairman of Fanatics Holdings, in a statement.

  • "Our team is excited to maximize the value of Nike’s college partnerships by creating faster speed-to-market of fan gear through our agile supply chain, resulting in an expanded assortment of both timeless and on-trend Nike-branded merchandise for college fans and retailers everywhere," he adds.

Meanwhile, this latest move follows a collaboration between Fanatics Collectibles and Topps to launch a physical and digital trading cards venture for college sports, announced in June.

  • Both physical and digital trading cards will be produced for schools and athletes beginning this fall.
  • To boot, earlier this year Fanatics and OneTeam Partners unveiled a jersey customization program that will also start this fall, where fans can create jerseys for current college athletes.
  • These strategies are all designed to help Fanatics become a $100 billion company, board director Jonathan Mildenhall told Axios in May.
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