Does sportswear need another brand? Derek Jeter, Wayne Gretzky and Misty Copeland think so.
On Tuesday, the former professional baseball player, Canadian hockey player and American ballet dancer is launching Greatness Wins, a new fitness apparel brand, in collaboration with Chris Riccobono, co-founder of menswear brand Untuckit.
Products include $69 basketball shorts and $99 performance joggers. The label is launching online and Riccobono said it will likely open a store or two within the next year and a half and is also open to wholesale partnerships.
Greatness Wins is entering a market with huge opportunity – the global sportswear industry hit $384 billion last year, according to McKinsey & Company, and is expected to grow 8-10% annually.
The fitness apparel space has also exploded over the past couple of years, with giants like Lululemon hitting record sales and dozens of startups finding new customers just for working out. But while some brands have focused on athleisure, a growing category of casual wear suitable for both fitness and everyday life, others, like Greatness Wins, are developing clothing specifically designed for sports.
“We’re going to bring the best performing product to market, and it’s going to be rigorously tested and consistently meet specs,” said Riccobono, who is still at Untuckit and is also now the general manager of Greatness Wins.
Athletes have endless options, especially from giants like Nike, Under Armour, and Adidas. Jeter, who held a 10-year, $100 million deal with Nike before it ended, told BoF he saw an opportunity in developing a brand focused on size and quality.
“One of the things I’ve learned throughout my career is how important consistency is,” Jeter said. “Consumers want to know that when they order something, it’s going to be the same fit, every time, and when you wash your clothes, it’s the same after the wash. We focus on quality.
Riccobono first teamed up with Gretzky, which helps the brand grow its golf apparel, when the NHL star and former head coach invested in Untuckit in 2018. Industry friends helped connecting Riccobono to Jeter, who told BoF that he agreed to work with Riccobono because of Untuckit’s success in menswear (Untuckit is now a $300 million company.) Jeter later recommended to the brand to tap into Copeland, which will launch the brand’s women’s products this spring.
Riccobono said the four co-founders own the brand, but declined to share percentage ownership or how much money the brand has raised.
Jeter, who stepped down as general manager of the Miami Marlins baseball team in February, said he chose to be closely involved in the brand’s design and development process. He’s following a similar path to athletes like the NBA’s Russell Westbrook and Olympic track runner Allyson Felix, who forgo the old celebrity playbook of licensing deals with established fashion brands and instead manage their own labels.
“I just didn’t want to put my name on a product and say, ‘hey, go buy this product,'” Jeter said. “I wanted to be part of the development process and…sit down and be part of the marketing campaigns and make the decisions.”
Greatness Wins is also hitting the market with a timely launch for Jeter. A documentary about the legendary baseball player, “The Captain,” by ESPN Films, debuts July 18, and the Hall of Famer has done several interviews for the film in Greatness Wins apparel. Jeter also joined Instagram in May, where he helps promote the brand (Gretzky and Copeland also promote the brand on social media).
Riccobono acknowledged that Greatness Wins, which plans to launch shoes next, faces strong competition in the market. He said attracting athletes like Jeter, Copeland and Gretzky as co-founders will give the brand credibility. That these famous athletes represent a wide range of sports is also part of the equation; Greatness Wins will take a broader approach to fitness than other sportswear startups targeting specific sports like pickleball or rugby.
The label will also focus on producing a smaller assortment of products.
“Big sports brands have…800 shorts, but you don’t need 100,000 products,” Riccobono said. “We will educate, on what product you wear to what activity.”