Yale launches online Under Armour store, selling sideline gear
The new online marketplace complements a pop-up Under Armour tent which opened at the Yale Bowl this fall and expanded options for sports-specific merchandise.
After launching a pop-up Under Armour shop with Eli football gear at the Yale Bowl this fall, Yale Athletics has now officially opened an online companion.
The department celebrated the online shop’s grand opening in an announcement posted on its social media feeds last Thursday. Assistant Athletic Director for Brand Management Broc Hazlet spearheaded the creation of both new stores, which sell sport-specific attire and sideline gear intended to resemble the Under Armour garments student athletes sport.
The department’s new primary emblem — a bold, outlined “victory” Y — sits proudly on each piece of apparel, speaking to the continued emphasis Director of Athletics Vicky Chun has placed on consistent branding. The demand which she and her team saw for such sideline gear and specific sport attire helped inspire the new apparel offerings, some of the first to tailor Under Armour gear to any of the Bulldogs’ 35 NCAA Division I teams, said Chun.
“This is something that we’re really proud of because right now there’s nowhere to buy a Yale fencing tee or a Yale crew tee,” Hazlet told the News before the site’s official launch. “So you’ll be able to come on the website, pick any size you want and all the sports are listed on here. You’ll be able to buy any T-shirt for any sport that you want… That’s something that we’re just excited about: being able to offer something to parents, friends [and] family that says the sport that they’re there to support.”
Much of the gear Yale fans could previously purchase originated from third-party sellers like the Yale Bookstore and Campus Customs. Both stores continue to sell Yale athletic gear, but most items branded for specific sports are not Under Armour merchandise. The Yale Bookstore, for example, sells navy T-shirts licensed through Champion that spell out most teams’ names with a generic filler image for each respective sport, including crew. Chun and Hazlet believe the department’s tent and online shops will offer supporters more specific options that allow them to explicitly express support for teams as opposed to the generic institution as a whole.
Selections on the online store, which is linked to Yale’s main athletics webpage through the e-commerce platform Shopify, are currently limited to a total of 16 items, including variations in color (navy or white) and gender. $25 hats, $30 T-shirts, $70 sweatshirts and quarter zips for $45 or $63 compose most of the site’s inventory. Fans can also purchase custom T-shirts for $35 to display the name of any Yale varsity sport.
Hazlet said he is particularly excited about the $53 sleeveless hoodie and a trendy $65 travel jacket which he considers “the nicest piece that Under Armour has ever put out.” According to him, the football, men’s basketball, women’s lacrosse and softball teams will all wear identical versions of the jacket for travel over the course of this school year.
Yale’s apparel team plans to increase the size of the catalog as the shop matures, Hazlet said. In the near future, he hopes to create sport-specific lines of gear as seasons dawn, such as targeted basketball and hockey apparel launched in the lead-up to winter, that fans would likely be able to purchase through preorder. The site may eventually sell club sports apparel as well, Chun said.
Despite the fact that the online store remains in its infancy, Hazlet is pleased with the pop-up tent’s early impact and anticipates an even more consistent brand sported by student athletes and fans as the year progresses.
“I saw more of the Yale football T-shirts and polos and jackets on Saturday that I design that came from our store on Week Two than I did on Week One,” Hazlet said after the Elis played their second game against Holy Cross in late September. “When you walk around campus here, you see a lot of student athletes that are in different sports all wearing the same stuff. That’s what makes the consistency. You see a Yale basketball player walking next to a Yale gymnast [and] most likely they’re in in a navy blue shirt that says ‘Yale’ over the sport, and it’s the same shirt and they got the same color shorts on. That’s when you really know that you got it going. And that’s been great to see.”
The Yale Bowl tent primarily sells football-specific gear, displaying hats, hoodies, athletic polos, T-shirts and long sleeves with some combination of the ubiquitous victory “Y” and a “Yale Football” inscription. As of the Bulldogs’ Sep. 28 game with Holy Cross, a navy short-sleeve Yale football hoodie sells for $55, T-shirts go for $30, long sleeves for $45 and polos for $70. The tent also sells game programs and transparent $5 Yale bags which fans are permitted to bring into the Bowl under the stadium’s new clear bag policy. Customers that spend more than $50 at the tent also receive a free clear bag with their purchase.
Ashley Caster, an intern for Hazlet and Yale Athletics who helps design gear and operate the tent on game days, told the News white pullovers that resemble the tops head coach Tony Reno and his staff wear on the Bowl’s sidelines sell especially well.
“[Fans] love it,” Caster said. “[It’s] something new for them, sponsored by Under Armour. It’s something different than the bookstore… Coming into winter [and] the fall season, the sweatshirts are selling huge.”
In addition to three remaining home games at the Yale Bowl, Hazlet said the tent will make some appearances at basketball games outside of John J. Lee Amphitheater and hockey competitions at Ingalls Rink. He hopes to host the pop-up store at Reese Field too, offering men’s and women’s soccer fans the chance to buy gear at a match or two later this fall and selling to lacrosse fans at some games in the spring.
Chun plans to restrict merchandise offered in the Yale Athletics store to athletic apparel and does not intend to infringe on potential sales being made at the Yale Bookstore, where she thinks Eli fans should continue to get their ties, mugs and related accessories. A manager from Campus Customs, which operates its own apparel tent at the Yale Bowl on game day, was not available for comment Monday on whether the new Yale Athletics tent has affected their sales.
But no matter what fans are purchasing, Chun is excited to increase the amount of Bulldog gear sold and enlarge the prominence of Yale’s entire apparel operation. She eventually hopes to create a permanent brick-and-mortar store in Payne Whitney Gym, but said the department is not yet ready for that step.
“Yale is so subtle about everything,” Chun said. “I mean, you go to Miami; it’s like entering Macy’s. [Their team store] is [essentially] the largest building. So I’m like, ‘Let’s do it!’ because there are a lot of people that buy things with Yale on it that don’t even attend. They just love Yale, and so I say we need to fill that need.”
Hazlet started working for Yale this past spring after previously serving as Colgate’s Assistant Director for Athletic Equipment.
William McCormack | email@example.com