Ask Andy Gerrard what it’s like trying to create a product that has mass appeal across all consumer segments and demographics — from collegiate Greek organizations to action sports enthusiasts and everything in between — and he’ll give you an immediate, two-word reply: “Incredibly difficult.”
Yet that’s exactly what it seems Spirit Jersey has done. Its flagship product — you’ve no doubt seen its distinctive oversized back print and dropped shoulder design — originated about 16 years ago and became a favorite for male and female consumers, says Gerrard, the company’s sales and marketing director. Sales have been increasingly strong recently, quadrupling from 2012 to 2013, according to the company. By all accounts, 2014 also saw strong sales figures.
“Our jersey is 100% USA-made and our customers want the quality and the Spirit Jersey brand,” Gerrard says. “We offer the widest choice of colors, fastest turn times and ship all year round, so we’re never out of stock.”
Demand is strong despite the Spirit Jersey not being offered via mass- or discount-retailer distribution channels. “We’ve been very fortunate to receive such high demand from almost everywhere [else],” he says.
Gerrard spent several minutes with SportsFan Retailer discussing the company’s flagship product, innovation, prerequisites for retail success and more.
SportsFan Retailer: The unique design of the Spirit Jersey is noticeable immediately. Is the product more popular with men or women?
Andy Gerrard: In the past three years, the jersey was embraced by the college market, and such was its popularity with girls on campus, so it became known as a women’s garment. Since then, we have launched various different styles of the jersey and a full fashion offering of new styles, all of which are targeted at college girls.
SFR: What’s the key to delivering a truly innovative apparel product that also becomes successful at retail?
Gerrard: The product has to be unique and adaptable so that it is — and remains — a trend setter. It also has to have the right backup so it can consistently deliver complete and on time all year round. I think these are two factors we’ve achieved with great success.
SFR: Any advice for retailers considering placing Spirit Jersey orders?
Gerrard: Remember to purchase enough so you’re not caught short when your customers clear you out in the first three days — and that’s a true story.
SFR: The company also offers customization options. Is garment design and decoration done in-house or do you have contract decorators?
Gerrard: We do everything in house. We’re proud to be 100% USA-made. The endless custom options of the spirit jersey is one of the defining factors of its longevity. It is always fresh.
SFR: Do you see any opportunities for product or line expansion?
Gerrard: In the past year, we have extended our product offering significantly. We now offer a number of different variations of the Spirit Jersey, including V-neck, short-sleeve and pocket versions — among others — and have a full fashion line targeted at the college girl. Everything focuses on quality and delivering complete product all year round.