Fashion Versus Comfort: Exploring the Gendered Marketing Messages of Sport Team Licensed Merchandise

in Journal of Sport Management

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Katherine SveinsonMcCormack Department of Sport Management, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA, USA

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Larena HoeberFaculty of Kinesiology & Health Studies, University of Regina, Regina, SK, Canada

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Sport team licensed merchandise plays an important role in sport fan experiences. Existing work has explored how consumers perceive these items, motivation and consumption habits, and intent to purchase. Extending upon the performative sport fandom framework, this study explores the marketing messages of sport fan merchandise, and the resulting implied gendered and fan performances. Employing a multimodal critical discourse analysis, we analyzed the top 20 T-shirts for men and women for five National College Athletic Association institutions on their official ecommerce sites. By examining the text descriptions, visual images, and messages perceived when combining text and visuals, we found that the marketing messages of clothing items rely heavily on traditional discourses of femininity and masculinity, placing gender performances as more relevant to fan performances for women. Atypical designs suggest alternative gender and fan performances but continue to indicate that gender identity is central to clothing appearance and messaging to consumers.

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