Will pickleball, the new trend sport, inspire fashion and luxury brands?

After tennis and badminton, discover pickleball! This “new” sport, born in the USA in the 60s, has been growing in popularity in recent years. This success has benefited both the sport’s players and fashion brands, who have not hesitated to adopt the dress codes of this racquet game.


Pickleball first conquered America. Now it’s spreading to Asia too!


Pickleball is a trendy new sport in which two or four players hit a perforated plastic ball, slightly larger than a tennis ball, over a net. It’s a bit like playing table tennis on a badminton court. The rules are simple, the equipment required is minimal and there’s less running involved. Which makes it accessible to everyone, whatever their age or level of play.



Although pickleball has been around since 1965, it only recently gained popularity as people sought new ways to stay active while respecting social distancing measures during the pandemic. Today, it’s the fastest-growing sport in the U.S., with an increase of 158.6% over the past three years, reaching 8.9 million players by 2022 according to the Sports & Fitness Association.


The craze for the sport extends far beyond the borders of the USA, and this is reflected on an international scale. Earlier this year, the International Pickleball Federation was created to promote the global development of the sport, and is actively lobbying for its inclusion in the Olympic Games. To date, the organization has over 80 member countries.




Before pickleball players began occupying public tennis courts in cities, the game was accessible but considered a very popular niche among the elderly. By 2021, players aged 55 and over accounted for the largest share of the player population. And some continued to play the sport well into their 80s and beyond. However, the sport is also gaining in popularity among young people, with the average age of pickleball players around 38 today, compared with 41 in 2020.



This development is good for business: the iconic professional tournament, the Professional Pickleball Association (PPA) Tour, attracts numerous sponsors, from financial institutions to alcohol brands. Last January, it was acquired by the owner of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes.


Pickleball fans include some of the world’s biggest celebrities. Celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio, the Kardashians and Bill Gates have publicly declared their love for the sport – Gates has been a proud “Pickler” for over 50 years. And several top athletes, including Tom Brady, LeBron James and Naomi Osaka, have invested in their own Major League Pickleball teams.



Fashion brands on the lookout


But what about pickleball style? With its intrinsic similarities to other popular racquet sports, pickleball has adopted their codes – think pleated skirts and polo collars. Many fashion brands are jumping at the opportunity.



Online retailer Moda Operandi has added a pickleball racket and balls to its new Club Moda summer capsule collection, and it’s not alone in its interest in the fashion aspect of the sport. Recently, Norma Kamali began selling her own pickleball dress, while Alice + Olivia and Nike have also launched items aimed at the sport. Similarly, Staud has created a line dedicated to what could become America’s second favorite pastime. High-end sportswear brand Anna Sui Active, created by New York designer Anna Sui, has teamed up with Shanghai-based sports club InLoveSport to show that its latest collection is both fashionable and functional for pickleball. Some sportswear brands, such as Adidas and Fila, have created sections dedicated to the sport on their international sites, although their promotion in China is not yet visible.



Olivier Verot, founder of Gentlemen Marketing Agency, suggests that brands take inspiration from the Chinese Frisbee trend, which has seen brands such as Marni, Prada, Chanel and Supreme create flying discs that have enjoyed great success on social networks.


It is also possible to sponsor matches and athletes, as with any other sport. Skechers is a dominant player in this field. The brand not only organizes pickleball-related events throughout China, including an exhibition at Poizon Con 2023 in Chengdu. But it is also the official footwear sponsor of the US Open pickleball championships.


According to research firm Technavio, the global pickleball apparel market is expected to grow by $680.3 million by 2026.




Featured photo : ©Staud

Grâce à une veille accrue et à une excellente connaissance de ces secteurs, la rédaction de Luxus Magazin décrypte pour ses lecteurs les principaux enjeux économiques et technologiques de la mode, l’horlogerie, la joaillerie, la gastronomie, les parfums et cosmétiques, l’hôtellerie, et l’immobilier de prestige.


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