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How do you suppose professional athletes earn enough riches to afford mansions like the ones seen here and the getaways pictured here? It’s not only their salaries or their prizes, but the endorsement deals, spinoffs and personal brands. For abundant evidence, see the CNBC slideshow Pro Athletes Turned Entrepreneurs.
While some of these athlete fashion brands are not so well known, one of the following examples was once ubiquitous, one is legendary, and one line of undies is currently modeled by its namesake in a giant ad on the side of a building in midtown Manhattan.
This collection has a good selection of newcomers: Some of them debuted earlier this year, and some are debuting now and in upcoming months. We’ve got representatives from the worlds of golf, tennis, pro skating, soccer and cycling, as well as some big and tall NBA guys making sure they can go out in a nice suit.
By Colleen Kane
Posted 22 March 2012
Where it’s sold: boutiques, tennis pro shops, official website
The Williams sisters are known for making vibrant fashion statements on the tennis courts, and both have made their own forays into fashion with clothing lines. Venus Williams, the former No.1 world champion of tennis, launched her ready-to-wear clothing line eleVen in 2007 in partnership with clothing retail chain Steve & Barry’s, which has since gone out of business. Venus is no fashion dabbler: She has a degree in fashion design, which she acquired over eight years from the Fort Lauderdale School of Clothing and Design. So Venus participates in the line’s development during each stage.
Venus is relaunching eleVen with a Spring 2012 line (pictured here) of daywear and sporting looks, some emblazoned with mottos like “Bring It” and “Oh & Oh, Beat ‘Em.”
Younger sibling Serena Williams has the clothing line Aneres and she launched a Black History Month collection this year with Nike.
Line: David Beckham Bodywear for H&M
Where it’s sold: H&M
In February, the soccer superstar/ Mr. Posh Spice/ sometime Armani underwear model launched his own line of undies, David Beckham Bodywear for H&M.
The first collection of Beckham and H&M’s long-term partnership includes briefs (or “pants,” if you’re inclined to call soccer “football”), boxers, trunks, tanks and pajama bottoms. Beckham wanted the line bearing his name to feature unadorned classic undergarments with labels that wouldn’t scratch.
Line: Salmons & Brown
Where it’s sold: Atrium NYC
Since 2010, the Sacramento Kings' John Salmons has been planning a line of ready-to-wear fashion in collaboration with tailor Sherman Brown, who pursued Salmons for nearly nine months before getting a response. On their first meeting, Salmons ordered more than 20 pieces from Brown, and before long they developed a partnership.
Their line of men’s suits and shirts and coats, as well as women’s clothing, debuts this fall, taking inspiration from the style and quality of the early 1900s — it’s ready-to-wear but some items have traditional bespoke tailoring. Materials include wools and tweeds that Salmons says (in a video on the website) are bought from mills that have been around for over 100 years. Salmons is 6-feet-6, so naturally the suits are available in sizes that flatter NBA-height men.
Line: Hawk Clothing
Where it’s sold: Kohl’s
Tony Hawk, the biggest name in pro skating, started his namesake line of casual kids’ clothing with his family for the discount department store Kohl’s in 1998. Many of the clothing line’s shirts, shorts and sneaks sport the stylized hawk-head logo in sizes ranging from toddler boy to “teen guys.” With a successful skateboarding company and deals with Activision, Six Flags, Infospace, Adio shoes, Jeep and Sirius Satelite Radio, Hawk has created a brand that generates more than $200 million a year, according to ABC News.
Recently, some less wholesome allegations have arisen regarding Hawk Clothing and the conditions of the garment factories where it’s made. Wages for garment workers in Bangladesh are 21 cents an hour, and safety conditions are bad, resulting in a fire that killed 29 in a factory that makes Hawk Clothing. When ABC News asked Hawk about the fire, he responded, "It's tragic. I think that the safety standards need to change and I support whatever change that they can make there."
Line: Maria Sharapova by Cole Haan/ Maria Sharapova Collection for Nike
Where it’s sold: Cole Haan shops and website/ Nike stores and website
Former No. 1 tennis player Maria Sharapova brought glamour to the court, notably in the 2006 U.S. open, which she won wearing an Audrey Hepburn-inspired little black dress with a crystal collar. It’s no surprise, then, that she has two ranges of clothing, shoes and accessories.
The high-end accessory brand Cole Haan has Sharapova-branded shoes and handbags, and The New York Times reported last year that Sharapova’s ballet flats for Cole Haan (then $138, now $148) are one of the brand’s best-selling items. Sharapova has a contract with Nike worth up to $70 million, the Times reported. Her no-nonsense range for Nike is more sporting-oriented and includes a visor, wristbands, tennis shoes, tennis shorts and dresses. Nike also sells outfits based on ones Sharapova wears on the court.
Line: The Steve Nash Collection for Indochino
Where it’s sold: Indochino website
The South African-born point guard for the Phoenix Suns collaborated once before with the online custom suit retailer Indochino, on the limited edition (of 50) Showdown in Chinatown Suit. Proceeds went to Steve Nash Foundation, which helps underprivileged children.
Last fall, Nash launched his eponymous collection for Indochino, consisting of 100 percent Merino wool suits, ties, pocket squares and cufflinks.
Line: Tonic Tennis by Martina Hingis for Tonic Lifestyle Apparel
Where it’s sold: tennis pro shops
The Canadian design house Tonic Lifestyle Apparel began in 2004 with items catering to practitioners of yoga, and particularly hot yoga. That changed after it was discovered by Swiss-born tennis pro Martina Hingis, who liked the softness of their signature Libra fabric, and wore them to an exhibition match at Wimbledon in 2010.
The former World No. 1 player collaborated long-distance with Tonic’s head designer Jenny Grad to create their tennis line debuting in March, which uses Merino wool and supplex fabrics. An article on Tennis.com noted she was especially helpful with input on how to adapt their relatively low-impact styles to the stresses of the high-impact tennis court.
Line: Jack Nicklaus Apparel
Where it’s sold: Jack Nicklaus Apparel website
In addition to Nicklaus-branded golf course design and Nicklaus Golf Equipment, Jack Nicklaus has his name on a range of golf and lifestyle apparel. The fashion line is distinguished by the emblem representing his nickname, The Golden Bear.
Jack Nicklaus Apparel offers one of the most extensive selections of any athlete fashion lines in this slideshow, including performance knits with UV protection, as well as sweaters, shorts, pants and outerwear. In consideration of the needs of players, these are a departure from the plaid polyester getups of yore: Nicklaus’ performance knits come in Cool Plus and Dry Range styles.
Where it’s sold: LIVESTRONG website, Macy’s, sporting goods stores, other retailers
Road racing cyclist and testicular cancer survivor Lance Armstrong is known almost as much for his once-ubiquitous yellow LIVESTRONG rubber wristband to raise cancer awareness than for winning the Tour de France seven times.
Armstrong’s clothing line includes gear for cycling, running and walking, as well as casual wear and accessories, most in the signature colors of black and yellow. All proceeds after expenses help fund LIVESTRONG, which aims to improve the experience of cancer patients.
Line: Air Jordan
Where it’s sold: Nike’s website, sneaker shops and sporting goods stores
It’s more of a shoe-focused line, but we would be remiss to leave out one of the most successful athlete-branded wearable items of all time. Perhaps you have heard of a basketball player named Michael Jordan, whose dunking silhouette debuted in 1985 upon a little Nike high-top sneaker called the Air Jordan.
Twenty-six collectible editions of the Air Jordan sneaker later, Michael Jordan is retired, the Jordan brand is its own subsidiary of Nike, the "Jumpman" silhouette appears on tees and other apparel, and the Jordan is its top-selling signature athletic shoe.