Top 10 Sports Brands You Need to Know in 2023

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Activewear is taking over our closets. With the global sports apparel market expected to reach $248 billion by 2026 [1], sportswear brands now dominate fashion.

Pair that with rising fitness enthusiasm, athletes turning influencers, and new technologies revolutionizing performance, and sports providers havereached mass appeal.

But in an increasingly crowded arena, which brands hold the most clout in 2023? Which labels should earn influencer attention?

In this 2,500 word definitive guide, we’ll countdown the top 10 sports brands to collaborate with this year.

Why Partner with Sports Brands?

Before highlighting noteworthy brands, let’s overview why sports sponsorships should be in every influencer‘s monetization toolkit:

1. Reach Massive Built-In Audiences

From hardcore athletes to casual weekend warriors, sports brands cater to diverse demographics. For example, Nike products reach over 100 million active users across America alone [2].

Tapping into even a fraction of these massive pre-existing audiences through branded content represents huge growth potential.

Influencers essentially gain instant access to highly targeted followers. Even niche brands in areas like golf or tennis have cultivated loyal communities perfect for expanding into.

Sports sponsorship also adds credibility that you understand and belong to those tribes, facilitating deeper connections.

2. Position Yourself as an Expert

There’s no faster way to demonstrate niche mastery than through official affiliations.

Aligning with prominent sports labels lets you tap into the innovation powering elite performance. Discussing inside access immediately captures attention while reinforcing qualifications.

The reverse also applies. Brands select influencer partners carefully to uphold reputation and standards. Earning their stamp of approval verifies your mastery to audiences.

Whether through advanced fabrics, proprietary technologies, or training insights, sports companies expect content showcasing insider expertise. Audiences now view you as the athlete’s athlete.

3. Content & Product Benefits Galore

Sports partnerships translate to fresh content angles and endless product highlights.

Testing gear through training provides built-in stories. Doing so makes branded recommendations and reviews more authentic too.

Focusing on tangible benefits like moisture-wicking fabrics, arch support, or compression allows getting very specific in analysis versus generic endorsements. These details hold serious value for followers.

For influencers, quality content and real service to readers outweigh quick monetization. Sports allow delivering both exceptionally well.

4. Access Exclusive Perks

Sponsors provide plenty of coveted extras beyond direct compensation.

Most sports brands offer generous product discounts or free gear to ensure their partners represent the label in top gear. Getting your hands on pre-released products before the general public also builds hype.

Promotions through contests and giveaways generate excitement while rewarding your core followers. High-profile athlete meetups similarly capture reader imagination through memorable experiences.

5. Build an Empire Through Recurring Revenue

The most profitable influencer-brand relationships transcend one-off partnerships towards empire status through recurring revenue.

Series sponsorships that cover training cycles or full seasons provide that continuity. Long-term ambassador statuses cement you as the face of a brand for sustainable income.

Commissions through affiliate sales similarly create perpetual earnings when audiences purchase through your unique links.

Committing early to emerging brands ultimately helps you scale together through these recurring programs. Identifying those hidden gems proves crucial.

Top 10 Sports Brands to Collaborate With

Now that we’ve covered the value of partnerships broadly, let’s countdown sports brands that need to be on your radar for 2023:

#1. Gymshark

Homegrown social media darling Gymshark defines modern sports sponsorship. This fitness apparel sensation has achieved over 550% sales growth since 2015 [$456M in 2022] through influencers [7].

Their ambassador program of over 500 creators helped them achieve record profits solely through online channels and organic marketing.

For fitness influencers, Gymshark provides the blueprint for leveraging partnerships towards meteoric growth and profits. Their continued expansion into performance running and women’s apparel means plenty of upcoming opportunities.

#2. Oiselle

By female athletes for female athletes defines Oiselle’s ethos. Founded in 2007 to address underserved women runners, their apparel now caters to yogis, dancers, and more through premium activewear.

Beyond products designed specifically for women‘s bodies, Oiselle wins through championing females in sport. Co-founder Sally Bergesen continues fighting for equality and sponsorships at events like Marathons.

For influencers in women’s fitness and wellness, Oiselle delivers shared values around empowerment and community with serious street cred.

#3. Brooks Running

Heritage running brand Brooks continues pushing performance boundaries decades after their founding in 1914. With globally-renowned technologies like DNA LOFT cushioning and GuideRails support, Brooks delivers biomechanical excellence.

Yet their Run Happy mentality grounded in positivity differentiates Brooks post-achievement. Teaming up with their non-profit Run For Better to empower youth reflects these uplifting community values.

For influencers passionate about responsible growth and spreading joy through activity, Brooks provides a purposeful partnership.

#4. Saxx

Saxx reinvented men’s activewear by celebrating swagger over gender stereotypes. Their category-leading BallPark Pouch underwear improved comfort and confidence for men to securely tackle any activity.

Expanded sportswear collections double down on swagger through bright colors, unique patterns, and technical features to match expressive personalities.

For male influencers in creative fields like photography and fashion, Saxx allows maintaining uniqueness while endorsing innovative performance gear.

#5. Form

Swim giant Form (formerly known as Aqua Sphere) leads through inclusive innovation like wider goggle viewing lenses and custom swimwear cup sizing.

As official eyewear and apparel partners for IRONMAN triathlons, Form also equips beginners tackling their first laps. This combined technical excellence with welcoming support for all athletes cements Form as leaders.

For influencers covering swimming or endurance sports, Form provides specialty credibility from leading industry partners.

#6. Tracksmith

Fusing heritage running style with modern performance, Tracksmith modernizes classic silhouettes through premium materials. Their sellout Miler Collection and NDO Nation fan club evoke sport nostalgia with contemporary functionality.

With analytics-based RUN Lab gear and publications analyzing technique, Tracksmith doubles down on expertise. Partnerships with athletes like Eliud Kipchoge reinforce that mastery mantle.

For running influencers seeking credibility through niche notoriety and retro storytelling, Tracksmith delivers in strides.

#7. Vuori

Vuori dominates aspirational activewear by blending technical fabrics inside California-cool designs perfected for both studio and street style.

With inclusive sizing, responsibilities initiatives and 90,000+ Instagram ambassadors, this Certified B Corporation extends beyond transactions into community building.

For influencers focused on living stylishly sustainably, Vuori delivers transformative apparel with seriously good vibes.

#8. Nobull

Founded by Crossfit athletes, Nobull epitomizes the rise of functional fitness fashion through training shoes equally at home in HIIT classes and brunch spots.

With podium finishes across competitive races and commercial campaigns with NBA stars, Nobull cements fusion wear as mainstream. In 2022, they achieved their first $100M revenue year [8].

For influencers straddling fitness and lifestyle content, Nobull allows maintaining multi-faceted interests while promoting on-trend training gear.

#9. Hyperice

The explosive rise of recovery tech gets epitomized by percussion massage innovators Hyperice, recently valued at $700M [9].

Advocates ranging from elite athletes to reactive wellness seekers rely daily on their next-gen Theraguns and compression systems. So much so that the Ernst & Young named Hyperice among the most disruptive companies in 2022 [10].

For influencers focused on both human performance and holistic self-care through tech, few brands beat Hyperice’s portfolio of game-changing mobility solutions.

#10. Ten Thousand

LA-based Ten Thousand dominates aspirational fitness apparel through a social-first model engaging micro-influencers. Despite launching in just 2018, they’ve achieved cult status with waitlists for their versatile, Instagram-worthy designs.

Blending eye-catching style with premium technical fabrics, Ten Thousand delivers ultimate versatility from studio to street. 2022 sales reached an estimated $70M as they expanded into footwear and women’s apparel [11].

For nano or micro-fitness influencers, Ten Thousand provides attainable partnerships with one of the hottest emerging brands to align with.

Finding Your Own Sports Sponsorships

While the major players above provide inspiration, don‘t limit yourself to mainstream brands when prospecting partnerships.

Specialized companies focused explicitly on singular sports often pay dividends through hyper-targeted audiences and niche credibility.

Upstart brands also regularly recruit influencers early through grassroots partnerships and ambassador programs. Getting in on the ground floor with categories like pickleball or mobility gear means serious growth potential.

Here are three surefire strategies for discovering your own perfect sports brand alignments:

1. Monitor Niche Publications & New Launches

Keep tabs on sports or fitness publications highlighting emerging brands making waves through innovation. Media outlets like Gear Patrol, the Strategist, and Well + Good reliably spotlight next-level companies worth approaching.

Similarly, directly monitor crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo for young startups launching game-changing technologies. Backing them early leads to long-term relationships.

2. Attend Industry Events & Tradeshows

Sports conferences and tradeshows allow meeting brand decision-makers in person to pitch collaborations. The shared personal passion for specific sports builds authentic relationships beyond business prospecting.

Events like OutDoor Retailer, Snow Show, and the Running Event connect you with hundreds of niche companies actively seeking ambassador partnerships aligned to specialties.

3. Actively Network Within Your Sports Community

Start organically networking with both local and online groups who share your athletic passions. Engage meaningfully with niche hashtags and brands you actively use for products.

Consistently crediting them as powering your performance gets their attention while establishing community connections. Proactively reach out to lesser-known brands you believe in for initial gifting opportunities.

Final Tips for Maximizing Sports Sponsorships

While signing that first sports partnership brings nice cachet, treat the initial collab as just the start towards ongoing success.

Here are my top recommendations for levelling up the value after sealing sponsorships:

Go Above Obligations

Maximize visibility for partners through extra mentions whenever organically relevant versus contractual obligations alone.

Get Specific

Educate audiences on product details that improve performance rather than generic endorsements. Showcase tangible benefits.

Let Brand Values Shine

Align branded content with causes and values resonating with target demographics for emotional connections.

Aim for Exclusivity

Negotiate unique benefits, content access or product colors unavailable to other influencers whenever feasible.

Insist on Creative Freedom

Maintain authenticity by only promoting messages and uses completely aligned to your personal brand‘s ethos.

Follow these best practices for success through sponsorships exceeding financial compensation alone.

The future looks brighter and fitter than ever for sports thanks to the brands and creators showcasing innovation.

Hopefully the heavy hitters above provide inspiration on lineup MVPs while tactics help uncover your ideal alignments.

Here’s to soaring new heights through strategic sports collaborations this year!


[1] Statista
[2] Nike
[3] Influencer Marketing Hub
[4] Gymshark
[5] Nobull
[6] Forbes
[7] YPulse
[8] GearPatrol
[9] PRNewswire
[10] Ernst&Young
[11] Modern Retail

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