How much would a pair of Nikes cost if they didn’t have the iconic swoosh on them? One company is aiming to find out by becoming the world’s first major apparel success story that really doesn’t care about fancy endorsements.
The result? Apparel with the same quality of a major sports brand, but roughly 40 percent cheaper. Tribesports wants to be that company, and they’ve got a successful Kickstarter to back up the dream. Their campaign broke its funding goal in less than 24 hours and, with 11 more days to go, Tribesports has raised $120,000 and counting, more than double its original mark. What the heck is Tribesports, and do they have a real shot at revolutionizing active apparel?
What It Is
Tribesports didn’t start off as an apparel company. It began as a social platform that connected folks who wanted to play sports with like-minded individuals. The site was organized into — you guessed it — “tribes” centered on specific activities like running, swimming, or even “home workouts.” Users could then set up “challenges” to compete against their fitness network both online and off.
Tribesports has about 200,000 active users largely based in the U.S. and the U.K., but despite its climbing popularity, it wasn’t making a lot of money.
What they did have was a massive community of active people who wanted good clothing without paying high prices. The team believed if they could eliminate high-profile endorsements, expensive marketing campaigns, and physical storefronts, they could offer the same high-quality gear at a fraction of the cost.
Clearly, the Tribesports and Kickstarter communities agree. The success of the campaign has allowed Tribesports to add new gear and new donation levels to their active wear campaign. Current offerings now include short-sleeve and long-sleeve shirts for men and women, shorts, singlets, shorts, tights, and a zip-up.
Why It Matters
The word “Nike” conjures up images of Michael Jordan and his iconic shoes, or of Lebron James, Roger Federer, Serena Williams, or even the NFL’s jerseys, which are all made by Nike. High visibility is a good thing, and most athletic apparel brands — including Nike, Adidas, Under Armour, and even Lululemon — have earned it through their roster of all-stars and big-budget ad campaigns. But it’s the consumer who ends up paying for this in bits and pieces. At least that’s what Tribesports believes.
Tribesports thinks they don’t need a Maria Sharapova or Derek Jeter because of their strong community and focus on the individual. A shoe that’s perfect for Michael Jordan is fine (“I wanna be like Mike!”), but isn’t it better to have a shoe that’s perfect for you?
The company has leveraged its community to spread the word and gather information on what kind of gear they should create. And it’s paying off.
The only questions are whether Tribesports — after all the hype and money spent — can actually deliver a product that’s as good as the big brands with enough options (yoga pants, running shorts, gym shirts, etc.) to satisfy a diverse community with various interests.
This Kickstarter suggests Tribesports is going to be just fine with their first run, but it’s still unclear how they might scale up the operation. It will be disappointing if success pushes Tribesports to find celebrity endorsements and follows the model it’s trying to disrupt.
Realistically speaking, Tribesports isn’t going to knock out Nike and its ilk. Tribesports could, however, carve out their own chunk of the $250 billion fashion industry while opening up new ways of thinking about how athletic apparel is made and sold. If it works — and it could — then Tribesports will be a Cinderella story worth cheering for.
What do you think of Tribesports? Let us know in the comments or find the author on Twitter at @zsniderman.
Note: Because of the nature of the Kickstarter, Greatist hasn't yet had a chance to try out Tribesports' clothing.
All images courtesy of Tribesports