Cup Fever


The World Cup be­gins in Rus­sia, and WWD takes a look at the busi­ness po­ten­tial – and the play­ers to swoon over.

The tour­na­ment, which starts June 14, is ex­pected to bring a wave of tourist spend­ing and a halo ef­fect af­ter­ward.

MOSCOW — Europe will soon be gripped with foot­ball fever as the 2018 FIFA World Cup gets un­der way in Rus­sia to­day, fu­el­ing sales of fan­wear and, re­tail­ers hope, tourist spend­ing.

Rus­sia has spent years spiff­ing up ahead of the tour­na­ment, with the first match sched­uled for June 14 and the fi­nals to be played on July 15.

The sport­ing event is far big­ger than the win­ter Olympic Games in Sochi in 2014. In fact, it is be­ing billed as the most ex­pen­sive World Cup ever with a price tag of $13.3 bil­lion, ac­cord­ing to Anna Leb­sak-Kleimans, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Fash­ion Con­sult­ing Group.

“It is es­ti­mated that the in­flu­ence of the World Cup on the coun­try’s econ­omy will last for other five years,” Leb­sak-Kleimans said in an in­ter­view, not­ing the cre­ation of in­fra­struc­ture should bol­ster Rus­sia’s GDP by 150 bil­lion to 210 bil­lion rubles per year, with 40 mil­lion to 70 mil­lion of that due to in­vest­ment and 110 bil­lion to 140 bil­lion due to in­creased tourism.

Ap­prox­i­mately $4.1 bil­lion of the prepa­ra­tion spend was al­lo­cated for the con­struc­tion of sport­ing fa­cil­i­ties, $6.8 bil­lion to im­prove roads and trans­porta­tion, and the re­main­der on sup­port ac­tiv­i­ties.

The tour­na­ment will take place in 11 cities: Moscow, St. Peters­burg, Nizhny Nov­gorod, Kazan, Kalin­ingrad, Samara, Saransk, Eka­ter­in­burg, Vol­gograd, Ros­tovon-Don and Sochi. The most ac­tive cen­ter will be Moscow with around 700,000 to 800,000 ex­tra tourists ex­pected.

Moscow and St. Peters­burg are ex­pected to be key fan hubs dur­ing the tour­na­ment, with the lat­ter ex­pected to host 400,000 vis­i­tors dur­ing the World Cup.

Ac­cord­ing to Euromon­i­tor, ”There is lit­tle doubt that host­ing a mega-event such as a World Cup leads to a spike in sales and ac­tiv­ity across many in­dus­tries.”

The re­search firm is fore­cast­ing some 21,000 vis­i­tors from the U.S., 16,000 from Mex­ico and 14,500 from China, which is sur­pris­ing con­sid­er­ing the U.S. and China did not qual­ify to com­pete.

Fash­ion Con­sult­ing Group es­ti­mates that around one mil­lion pieces of of­fi­cial mer­chan­dise linked to the World Cup will be sold this year in Rus­sia, with half of them be­ing ap­parel or tex­tile prod­ucts.

The pro­jec­tion is based on the 2014

World Cup in Brazil. At that event, more than 80 per­cent of at­ten­dees were in­ter­ested in ac­quir­ing li­censed prod­ucts, with T-shirts, stuffed toys (i.e. World Cup’s of­fi­cial mas­cot), caps and key rings the most in-de­mand items, said Leb­sak-Kleimans.

Thanks to the ath-leisure trend, sales of sportswear have been ac­cel­er­at­ing in Rus­sia, with growth in 2017 of 10.5 per­cent, eclips­ing gains of 9.2 per­cent in 2016 and

4.5 per­cent in 2015, ac­cord­ing to Euromon­i­tor. It pegged the value of the Rus­sian sportswear mar­ket at $7.03 bil­lion in 2017.

“Young Rus­sians, es­pe­cially fe­males, will re­main key con­sumers of sportswear that will drive over­all growth,” Euromon­i­tor said in a re­search note, which fore­casts that sports-in­spired ap­parel and footwear will re­main the fastest-growing cat­e­gory dur­ing the World Cup. “These cat­e­gories will con­tinue to ben­e­fit from gen­eral ap­parel play­ers and celebri­ties launch­ing sportswear ranges of­fer­ing on-trend de­signs and styles. More­over, restora­tion of con­sumers’ dis­pos­able in­comes of Rus­sians and growing con­sumer so­phis­ti­ca­tion may lead to more spe­cific needs, re­sult­ing in the greater de­mand for per­for­mance ap­parel and footwear in­stead of gen­eral-pur­pose sportswear.”

Adi­das and Nike are out­fit­ting 22 of the 32 teams par­tic­i­pat­ing in this year’s tour­na­ment, ver­sus four for Puma.

Adi­das, a FIFA part­ner for more than 40 years, said it plans to be very ac­tive in Rus­sia, not only pro­vid­ing of­fi­cial mer­chan­dise but also events tai­lor-made for fans. In tan­dem with the open­ing game be­tween Rus­sia and Saudi Ara­bia, Adi­das plans to chris­ten its hub in the Mu­seum of Moscow — dubbed Creative Base — which is to op­er­ate through­out the tour­na­ment. It is to broad­cast key games, host ath­lete ap­pear­ances, work­shops and mas­ter classes, along with mu­sic, per­for­mances and sneaker cus­tomiz­ing.

While Rus­sia has weath­ered years of tepid retail sales amid an eco­nomic cri­sis, the sport­ing event should spark a phe­nom­e­non known as “con­sump­tion en­thu­si­asm” that of­ten comes in tan­dem with lon­gawaited events. Cit­ing Visa Pay­ments data, Leb­sak-Kleimans said tourist ex­pen­di­ture should in­crease around 15 to 20 per­cent dur­ing the World Cup.

In­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors are ex­pected to spend be­tween $5,000 to $8,000 in to­tal on travel, game tick­ets, ac­com­mo­da­tion and the like, adding an es­ti­mated $1.5 bil­lion to the econ­omy. The first two in­dus­tries that will ben­e­fit from the fan wave com­ing from dif­fer­ent places are food and retail.

Ac­cord­ing to Leb­sak-Kleimans, de­mand for clothes in Rus­sia re­mains quite low com­pared to the pre-cri­sis years be­fore 2014, but 2017 saw a 3 per­cent uptick ver­sus 1 per­cent in 2016. Fash­ion Con­sult­ing Group’s most op­ti­mistic pro­jec­tion for 2018 is growth of 4 to 5 per­cent.

Moscow will be the show­piece city. In ad­di­tion to sub­stan­tial road im­prove­ments, ad­di­tional sub­way lines were built and a new rail­way, the Moscow Cen­tral Ring, was added, all backed by mayor Sergey Sobyanin. The city is ready with “1,450 guides and trans­la­tors speak­ing 28 dif­fer­ent lan­guages, and 810 Rus­sian-speak­ing tour guides,” ac­cord­ing to Leb­sak-Kleimans.

Some of the city’s most pres­ti­gious re­tail­ers are primed for the event.

Lux­ury depart­ment store Tsum has added a ded­i­cated and sump­tu­ous mar­ble-floored shop-in-shop with Adi­das where of­fi­cial mer­chan­dise will be sold, in­clud­ing a spe­cial lux­ury foot­ball that is lav­ishly em­broi­dered and priced around $1,500.

“We also had dif­fer­ent spe­cial col­lab­o­ra­tions made for the World Cup among these, Ar­mani, Paul & Shark, Kenzo, Zilli and

Polo Ralph Lau­ren,” said Tsum chair­man An­dreas Sch­mei­dler.

“We are not mak­ing any fore­cast, how­ever we are pos­i­tive that sales will please us,” he said, not­ing that Tsum’s new tax-free scheme boosted its fig­ures this past month. “Num­bers are en­cour­ag­ing. Thanks to the tax re­funds, we can track our for­eign clients. Among these, the Chi­nese are our top spenders. This World Cup could bring a new tourist open­ing for Rus­sia, and Tsum would be their top retail des­ti­na­tion.”

Aizel, one of the first multi­brand de­signer bou­tiques to open in the post-Soviet era, plans to put the fo­cus on lo­cal brands dur­ing the World Cup.

“For­eign­ers will come and I would like to give them some­thing unique that our Rus­sian de­sign­ers cre­ated es­pe­cially for this World Cup,” said founder Aizel Trudel. “We are not lim­ited to one or two de­sign­ers. Here in Rus­sia we have plenty of tal­ented peo­ple and they also de­serve to have a chance.” U-Jewels made a spe­cial ring spelling out

РОДИНА in Old Rus­sian Cyril­lic char­ac­ters, mean­ing “Moth­er­land;” No­vaya cus­tom­ized a Fila wind­breaker; Lisa & Leo cre­ated hard-case bags printed with ma­tryoshka dolls; La­room sweat­shirts are em­bla­zoned with “Ya Lublu Foot­ball” mean­ing “I love foot­ball;” and Alena Akhmadul­lina made a spe­cial iPhone X case and a can­dle with a tra­di­tional Rus­sian print.

On the same street, Olga Karput’s con­cept store KM20 is gear­ing up, head­lined by one of her key ven­dors, Gosha Rubchin­skiy, one of Rus­sia’s most fa­mous fash­ion de­sign­ers with links to the skat­ing and soc­cer worlds.

“Ev­ery­thing starts with Gosha Rubchin­skiy X Adi­das Foot­ball col­lab­o­ra­tion. We will be the first store to launch the cap­sule col­lec­tion. We have planned an in-store event pre­sent­ing the whole range one day prior to its world­wide re­lease,” she said.

The event is to com­prise a pri­vate din­ner with the de­signer, his backer Comme des Garçons and Adi­das of­fi­cials, fol­lowed by a party.

KM20 is also the of­fi­cial launch re­tailer for the Off-White x Nike foot­ball col­lec­tion, which will be show­cased in a pop-up in­stal­la­tion to present prod­ucts through­out the tour­na­ment.

“The World Cup is the most pop­u­lar and cel­e­brated sports event in the world so it doesn’t need any ex­tra pro­mo­tion,” she said. “It is a great honor for every coun­try to host it.”

The sport, up to and in­clud­ing its spotlight in Rus­sia, is also be­ing cel­e­brated with an ex­hi­bi­tion at the Pitti Uomo trade fair, now un­der way in Florence.

“There is no foot­ball with­out fash­ion,” ac­cord­ing to Markus Eb­ner, ed­i­tor in chief of Achtung and Sepp mag­a­zines, the lat­ter de­voted to the in­ter­sec­tion of soc­cer and style. He cu­rated the Florence show­case, which runs through July 12, with Ital­ian art cu­ra­tor Francesco Bon­ami.

“Fa­natic Feel­ings — Fash­ion Plays Foot­ball,” at the Santa Maria Novella com­plex, puts the ac­cent on the tight re­la­tion­ship be­tween soc­cer and fash­ion and how the sport in­flu­enced the devel­op­ment of men’s col­lec­tive imag­i­na­tion.

Eb­ner, who started Sepp dur­ing the World Cup in South Korea and Japan in 2002, has seen soc­cer in­creas­ingly in­fil­trat­ing the fash­ion world, with Brazil­ian star Ney­mar at­tend­ing fash­ion shows and Karl Lager­feld sketch­ing French player Paul Pogba, known for his ever-chang­ing hair­styles, for a re­cent spread in Sepp.

Rubchin­skiy, who hails from Moscow, and Demna Gvasalia, the Ge­or­gian-born de­signer of Vete­ments and Ba­len­ci­aga, re­cently ig­nited the pop­u­lar­ity of soc­cer style. Ac­cord­ing to Eb­ner, one key spark was the Vete­ments fall 2015 col­lec­tion that fea­tured a scarf em­bla­zoned with the words “foot­ball scarf” in Rus­sian.

“And then those foot­ball scarves started show­ing up ev­ery­where. That eastern Euro­pean look is at the fore­front of con­tem­po­rary fash­ion; the Rus­sian foot­ball player look, that’s Gosha’s look, and it’s the look of the mo­ment,” he said.

Among pi­o­neer­ing style icons in the sport was Ge­orge Best, who emerged in the Sev­en­ties. “He was the first one, that had that Hol­ly­wood aura, tal­ented and well dressed,” Eb­ner said.

Other foot­baller style icons fea­tured at the show in­clude Gün­ter Net­zer, David Beck­ham and Héc­tor Bellerín.

The spe­cial Adi­das shop at Tsum in Moscow for the World Cup.

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