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Reshaping fashion: Sports Apparel and the Metaverse


By Steve Mason, VP/GM EMEA and Americas, Avery Dennison 

Virtual fashion presents a budding opportunity that sports brands and teams are starting to explore as they venture into the metaverse. ESports and digital collectables, in the form of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), are already offering new and engaging ways to interact with fans, such as Fifa+ Collect, a digital platform where people can purchase digital assets that depict notable moments, art and imagery. We are now seeing sports brands and online platforms partner to create digital garments that fans can wear in cyberspace to show support for their favourite teams online. 

Digital fashion is already being heralded as an opportunity for luxury fashion brands, with industry experts predicting the market could reach $50 billion by 2030. Looking at the bigger picture, McKinsey & Company predict the metaverse could generate up to $5 trillion across other industries in the same timeframe. It’s the perfect time for the sports industry to jump on the digital fashion and wider metaverse trends. At Avery Dennison, our Embelex product line is already embracing the metaverse buzz through smart embellishments.  

Love for the game 

The metaverse has opened up a space where people can exist as avatars, interact with one another, and even attend virtual events. For instance, people can sport their favourite Nike gear in ‘Nikeland’ on Roblox or collect NFTs like Under Armour’s Stephen Curry game day shoes, bringing them closer to the sports and stars they follow. The metaverse is an almost mirror image of the real world where sports fans can engage with other supporters as well as the teams they love, revelling in the big wins and exciting news.

The sports apparel industry has long served a unique forum, where brands can offer loyal supporters customised and personalised garments that bring them closer to their teams. This principle is amplified in the digital realm, where the internet’s limitless reach can propel advertising and marketing opportunities to new levels. The metaverse offers the flexibility to create entire worlds, games and events under a sports team’s banner and share them globally, instantly. As people explore the numerous worlds in the metaverse, they can adorn their avatars with sports team kits, showing their undying loyalty.

Getting the most out of technology 

Evolving technology offers new ways for sports brands to engage with fans on and off the pitch, and apparel is a powerful tool to capitalise on this. Clothing evokes feelings, including a sense of belonging within the sporting community while allowing fashion brands to explore imaginative design concepts. The sports industry is a particularly intriguing space to explore clothing’s potential as fans are intrinsically linked to the game and their teams. As a result, sports kits can offer a way to enhance fans’ experiences, while generating revenue for clubs and sportswear brands.  

At Avery Dennison, we are also starting to test the potential of new technologies with digital triggers on garments that link customers to tailored online content. Simply by using a smartphone, these scannable embellishments can take sports fans and other customers through a portal into the digital realm where they can access content curated by brands and teams designed to reward loyal supporters with new experiences. 

The future of sports fashion

As the world around us is progressively digitalised, we are seeing the very concept of fashion change. People are taking more interactions online, and the metaverse is providing imaginative spaces for this. Whether online or in the street, people express their creativity and adoration for things they like, creating a home for physical and now digital fashion. Sports apparel manufacturers are in an ideal position to capitalise on the rapid growth of gaming in the metaverse. It’s an exciting time for sports teams and brands to test the waters and provide fans with something new.   

There are quick-win sales opportunities for sports businesses looking to sell digital garments, but this is also a chance to deepen the level of interaction with fans. The most adventurous sports brands will prosper in the digital future ahead of us, as they strengthen ties to fans by following them into the online domain. Now is the time to push the boundaries of conventional fashion and get ahead in a fast-moving race.  








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