4
min read

How are soccer uniforms made?

Published on
October 30, 2023
Soccer player in a stadium alluding to soccer uniforms.
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Growth marketer and tech entrepreneur since 2015. Alejandro leads the Digital Marketing team at GAT Fashion Lab.

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How are soccer uniforms made?

Have you ever wondered where and how soccer teams' uniforms are made? If so, or if you're looking for information about manufacturers or where to make soccer uniforms, this article is for you.

The soccer business:

Soccer is one of the most popular sports worldwide, making it a significant business. However, we'll focus only on the uniform business and, in general, fashion within the sport.


Sponsors:

Professional soccer teams have various sponsors that can be displayed on the teams in different ways. One of the most well-known sponsors is the "manufacturer" or sponsor of their uniform or clothing.

Brands like Nike, Adidas, Puma, etc., are the most popular sponsors of teams, but are these brands really the ones manufacturing the uniforms? Let's find out:

Within the world of clothing manufacturing, there are many business models, and having a brand's logo appear on a garment does not necessarily mean that the brand itself manufactured the item. They may have used a third party for production or even for the design, as outsourcing production and design in the world of clothing manufacturing, especially in sports apparel, is more common than you might think.

Before discussing manufacturing formats, there's another business model in soccer that's gaining traction, especially in Europe, which is the teams' Private Label (official team merchandise), which includes more casual clothing like cotton jerseys, jackets, hoodies, sweatshirts, etc. These items don't carry the sponsor's brand and are 100% owned by the team. Some successful examples of private labels are Real Madrid's and Borussia Dortmund's merchandise.

This business model is particularly interesting because it generates 100% of the team's income and is not related to the sponsor. However, this depends on the agreements between sponsors and teams.

Manufacturing formats:

Returning to the topic of how soccer team uniforms are made, we can categorize it into two major divisions: in-house production and third-party production.

In both options, we assume that the design is done internally by the sponsoring brand. When we talk about design, we mean defining the silhouette, colors, and all the attributes of the uniforms for the new season. This work is usually done by the design team of the sponsoring brand, but it can also be carried out by a third party.

 

In-house Production:

This refers to the sponsor being the owner and operator of the facilities responsible for manufacturing the uniforms. At first glance, one might think this is the most common model, but it's not. Most of the time, large brands outsource their production to specialized factories that handle all processes until the final product is obtained.

 

Third-party Production:

This is the most common manufacturing model for major brands, which is why you often see "Made in China/Bangladesh/Jordan," etc., on clothing. Most of the time, these garments are produced in factories that are not owned by the brands; they merely provide services. This is done to make the production process more efficient and cost-effective.

 

Within production, there are two main manufacturing formats:

-CMT: This is solely the manufacturing service, which may include pattern cutting but typically covers only the garment's assembly and finishing (quality, packaging, labels, etc.). Clothing factorys  are very popular in developing countries, where labor is cheaper, especially in Asian countries. Many large brands, not just in sports, have shifted their operations from Asia to Latin America, which not only offers better labor conditions but also cost savings due to proximity to the largest market in the world, the United States. This phenomenon is known as Nearshoring.

-Full Package: This is a service that covers all stages of fashion collection or garment development. Companies that provide this service can also offer clothing factory or other services separately. The main difference and value of a Full Package is its ability to streamline and expedite a brand's processes more effectively because they have the right personnel for each process, from research and design to production and logistics.

At GAT Fashion Lab, we specialize in Full Package manufacturing, and since 2023, we have partnered with one of the world's largest sports brands to manufacture sports apparel for one of Colombia's biggest soccer teams. In this project, our client (the sponsor) handles the design of the apparel, and we turn those designs into samples that are adjusted, approved, and produced to the highest standards for use by both professional players and fans.

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