IMMAE This Weekend: TapouT vs Ecko

July 31, 2008

IMMAE is an industry trade show and consumer exposition showcasing the fastest growing sport in American history, Mixed Martial Arts. The Expo takes place this August 1st, 2nd, and 3rd at the Long Beach Convention Center. Fighters scheduled to make appearances at the Expo include Tito Ortiz, Tim Sylvia, Jens Pulver, Joe Stevenson, Nate Diaz, Frank Mir, Dan Henderson, Josh Koscheck, among many others.

One interesting angle at the International Mixed Martial Arts Expo will be the shared platform for TapouT and Ecko Unlimited. Those two clothiers are alone as Gold Sponsors for the Expo. The pair are a study in contrasts as it relates to where they come from, where they are, and where they are going in the current MMA apparel landscape.

TapouT is generally seen as the king of the MMA apparel mountain, as perhaps the definitive brand for fanciers of mixed martial arts. The TapouT is an empire that has been built from within the sport, having been founded in 1997. Tapout has been around since the beginning and has reached a point where it has almost become synonymous with MMA. Much like the sport itself, Tapout quietly grew at a very modest pace until the MMA explosion touched off by the debut of The Ultimate Fighter. After doing just $12 million in sales in 2006, Tapout is projected to do $100 million in sales this year and $225 million in 2009. TapouT is seeing such expansive growth through their improving distribution with traditional brick and mortar channels, such as Foot Locker and Champs.

The other gold sponsor is one that has built it’s empire outside of the MMA world. Ecko Unlimited dwarfs Tapout in size doing $400 to $500 million a year in sales, with Marc Ecko Enterprises as a whole doing around $1 billion in sales a year. While Ecko Unlimited has the size and resources to be a significant player in the MMA industry, they seem to have not fully committed to the market. If and when they do, they have an a mature distribution system and an ability to cross-promote through their other brands that would make for a strong competitor for the TapouT crew.

The battle between the two should make for an interesting backstory to this week-end’s events.

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