The Super Bowl didn’t always have such a prominent slot on the fashion calendar. In the not too distant past, sports were left to the sportswear brands. Even as basketball and football players began fronting luxury campaigns and turning pregame tunnel walks into menswear shows, American football resisted a makeover.
This year’s big game is shaping up to be the sport’s glow-up moment. Fashion and beauty will be everywhere Sunday night in Las Vegas. Boss released a capsule collection with the NFL. Commercial breaks are going to be stuffed with ads for E.l.f., CeraVe and other beauty brands (at $7 million for a 30-second spot). Taylor Swift is at the forefront of a WAG renaissance, as athletes’ partners prove to be the perfect vectors for brands looking to connect with football fans. Usher, this year’s halftime act, was all over Paris Fashion Week last fall and is fronting Skims’ latest men’s campaign. On Friday, Versace announced a partnership with Roc Nation, which produces the halftime show. Brands are even setting up gifting suites, as they would at a red carpet event.
The industry’s interest in the big game shouldn’t be exaggerated — Christian Cowan and Ludovic de Saint Sernin probably aren’t sweating whether guests will choose Super Bowl parties over their New York Fashion Week shows Sunday night.
But the Super Bowl has become a new tentpole in fashion brands’ efforts to capture the biggest possible audience by integrating themselves into every possible cultural event. It’s akin to Revolve’s annual takeover of Coachella, Tommy Hilfiger sponsoring a Formula One team and LVMH’s yet-to-be-revealed, but surely grandiose plans for the Paris Olympics. Pharrell’s tenure at Louis Vuitton, where the label is positioned as a “cultural brand” at the intersection of music, sports, art and entertainment, and also sells clothes, is the embodiment of this concept.
The payoff from successfully meeting the cultural moment can be huge. E.l.f.’s Super Bowl ad last year starring Jennifer Coolidge was a masterstroke, with an afterlife on social media and broadcast television long beyond the big game. E.l.f. can probably credit some of its stunning 85 percent growth last quarter to its big marketing swing. When Rihanna wore the MM6 Maison Margiela X Salomon Cross Low sneakers during her halftime performance last year, it cemented the trail running shoe’s ascension from niche sporting gear to a crossover hit.
The question ahead of this year’s Super Bowl is not whether marketing around the game will work for fashion, but what took so long.
What Else to Watch for This Week
Super Bowl kickoff is at 6:30 p.m. ET
NYFW: Ulla Johnson, Altuzarra, Sandy Liang, Area and Jason Wu (these last two at the same time!), Christian Cowan, Ludovic de Saint Sernin
NYFW: Carolina Herrera, Coach, Puppets & Puppets, Sergio Hudson, Tory Burch, LaQuan Smith
NYFW: Gabriela Hearst, Michael Kors, Batsheva, Luar
NYFW: Brandon Maxwell, Thom Browne
The New Look, a 10-part series dramatising the rise of Christian Dior, premieres on Apple TV+
EssilorLuxottica reports results
Crocs, Mytheresa, Hanesbrands report results
London Fashion Week: Dunhill, Fashion East, Chet Lo
London Fashion Week: Richard Quinn, Simone Rocha, Erdem, Roksanda, Ahluwalia
The Week Ahead wants to hear from you! Send tips, suggestions, complaints and compliments to email@example.com.