Michael Jordan is transforming himself from multi-million-dollar basketball superstar to billion-dollar
fashion king with an aggressive expansion of his Nike shoe and
|Michael Jordan's Nike imprint has fallen from favor due to the changing tastes of critical trend-setting teenagers
The retired Chicago Bulls superstar is spearheading a Nike
full-court press on fashion opponents by launching a broader
lifestyle clothing line earmarked for department and specialty
"That's because I'm out of a job," Jordan told Reuters in
an interview after a Las Vegas fashion show in which Jordan
unveiled a new line of casual sportswear for men and women that
had an almost Ralph Lauren appeal.
The show was a departure from run-of-the-mill shorts and
sports tops. It featured a variety of trendy sporty casual wear
from sueded fleece pants with cargo pockets to caps, bags,
shorts and jackets that Jordan said he had helped design.
"In sports sometimes you express your personality the way
you play. You can look at an athlete and say he's very outgoing,
very creative. With apparel it's the same way. What you wear
sometimes expresses your personality," Jordan said.
"That's the correlation between athletes and apparel. We
try to utilize that, especially (as it pertains to) me."
In the future, casual apparel will be the driver behind
growing the Jordan brand, which started out in the mid-80s as
athletic footwear, said Larry Miller, president of the Jordan
line, which was established as a separate business unit last
year in anticipation of Jordan's retirement.
While Jordan's imprint has helped Nike dominate the market
for basketball shoes and clothing over the past decade, the
category has fallen from favor due to the changing tastes of
critical trend-setting teenagers.
Basketball shoes, apparel and other products bearing the
Jordan name account for about 4 percent of Nike's revenues, said
Miller, down from 1993, when Jordan-related gear accounted for
about 9 percent of sales.
Miller said the company hopes to expand the Jordan brand
from about 4 percent, or $400 million in annual sales, up to
more than 10 percent of total Nike revenues. "We believe it can
be a billion dollar business as long as we focus on apparel,"
Miller said although Jordan had retired, his name
transcended basketball, and Nike intended to increase marketing
efforts behind the Jordan brand.
"I think his popularity will continue to increase. We're
going to definitely get behind him from a marketing perspective
and make sure we compensate for the fact he's not playing on the
court," he said.
The key to future success of the Jordan line, Miller noted,
was expanding into lifestyle apparel along the lines of Tommy
Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren.
"We started out as a business focused around the Air Jordan
shoe," Miller said. "That's really where the bulk of the
volume for business has continued to be. Now we see a real
opportunity to go into apparel lines."
Miller said many high fashion designers such as Ralph Lauren
and Tommy Hilfiger had expanded their casual clothing lines
into the athletic area and that Jordan would go head-to-head
with those designers.
"Ultimately it probably will become a battleground but
we're ready to do battle if it comes to it. With Jordan brand
and with Michael we can make that push going in their direction
from performance and sport into more of the lifestyle," Miller
Jordan also said he was developing a line of men's tailored