MMA Lifestyle Apparel is Opportunity Field

September 26, 2008

Pacific Business News has a good article up illustrating the opportunities that MMA provides to those looking to enter the business field. The article centers around the fortunes of Illicit Wear Inc., which does business as Skin Industries Hawaii. When looking to start a business in Hawaii, they faced a nearly impossible battle to crack into the local surf and skate market rife with high end players:

They also knew they faced an uphill battle in an already saturated surf and skate market dominated by Mainland companies such as Quicksilver, Billabong and Volcom and Hawaii companies such as T & C Surf Designs, Hawaiian Island Creations, Local Motion and Honolua Surf Co.

Their strategy: tap into an emerging niche market geared toward the mixed martial arts, motocross, alternative, active lifestyle set.

The MMA lifestyle arena was a key dimension of these efforts. MMA Lifestyle vendors and companies were much more receptive to working with them in filling out their product offerings for their retailing location, with MMA apparel player Skin Industries becoming a key partner:

He doggedly pursued vendors for under-the-radar brands such as Sullen, Osiris, DC Shoes, Silverstar and Zooyork and eventually joined with California-based Skin Industries for what would be the Claytons’ first store.

In addition to graphic T-shirts, surf shorts and skater shoes, the stores sell clothing and accessories for mixed martial arts and motocross.

The company generated $717,000 in sales in 2006, its first year in business, then grew by about 80 percent to $1.3 million last year. Sales have reached $1.4 million already this year.

This summer, they entered into a partnership with the Carlsbad, Calif., company to rebrand as the state’s first No Fear Hawaii stores.

A still growing industry like MMA lifestyle apparel was key in providing the doorway of opportunity for Illicit. A direct leap into the surf and skate market would have been improbable but their MMA play allowed them to achieve their end goal of having a foot in surf and skate, with the added bonus of having a more diversified product offering in the end than their competitors by virtue of their MMA and motocross offerings. Theirs may not be a pure MMA play but such hybrid mixes of Surf/Skate/MMA look to be a growing trend of the future. The recent Virtue Expo is another signal that this will be a growth area of the future of MMA lifestyle apparel.

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