New company wants to bring branded apparel to the LCS and esports
In 2012, Trenton Pierson went to the leaders of the apparel company where he worked. He had a pitch: start making esports-related branded clothing. The company turned him down, but Pierson didn't give up. On June 12, his idea will finally be realized—except this time, he's running the show.
It's called GG|Culture & Apparel (GG|Culture for short). And while the online apparel vendor does have a broad focus on general gaming culture, Pierson has been working hard to create something to separate his store from the rest. Rather than rehashing a gamer's traditional favorites—Mario, Sonic, Link—GG|Culture will serve up clothing for a gamer's favorite esports team.
"We are creating a whole new space," Pierson, a millenial based in Los Angeles, told the Daily Dot. "What you could consider us would be the Neff, or the RVCA of esports. We will eventually be working with the individual teams to produce merchandise that isn't just their jerseys."
GG|Culture's reasoning is interesting. Brands that focus on a single game only really reach people that've played that game. General gaming themes, like controllers and extra lives, have been played out for decades. However, Pierson thinks esports is one area that remains largely unexplored, that all gamers share, and that will only get bigger.
"I was doing market research for a much, much larger apparel company and how they might move into esports," Pierson says. "After communicating with the CEO of that company for some time, I got the idea that he really didn't understand gaming and didn't see the massive potential for this space. So I took what I had collected and started GG|Culture."
The idea quickly grew into a real company, which now operates as a seven-man team out of Utah.
At launch, GG|Culture will only have a few vague "esportsy" logos, such as takes on "GG," a common phrase among competitive gamers that stands for "good game." But by the end of the summer, Pierson promises it'll start offering hoodies and T-shirts with logos of gamers' favorite teams.Pierson's initial focus is on Riot Games' League Championship Series—Alex Gu, owner of Team Impulse, helped Pierson make contacts within the league early on—and has plans to work with LCS teams to get their brand on his clothing by the end of the summer.
His plans don't stop there—he wants to the work out partnerships with leagues like ESL and MLG, and the many teams that compete within them. GG|Culture will also have apparel from popular esports personalities, such as Call of Duty player Clay "Clayster" Eubanks.
Its also keeping its prices competitive, with t-shirts at $22, hats at $24, and hoodies at $45. Compared to jerseys for traditional sports, which can cost from $60 to more than $300, it's not hard to see esports apparel turning into a legitimate market. Until now, very few teams actually had significant merchandise for sale. Team 8, for example, entered the LCS back in January, but still have "Coming Soon" in place of a storefront on its website.
It makes sense, then, for Riot to work with specialized clothing vendors like GG|Culture to develop a marketplace for teams to sell its goods, especially when it's clear those teams don't have the resources or interest to develop one for themselves. And while there are a few outlets that resell team merchandise, there's no clear centralized location for a vast majority of esports fans—and almost nothing to buy outside of a few designs and clothing options for each team.
With traditional sports merchandising bringing in billions for team owners, it's actually quite surprising that this kind of independent, centralized initiative hasn't started sooner. GG|Culture may very well be just the beginning of a big shift in the esports economy. Until then, Pierson is staying humble.
"We're just really excited for it, and I'm sure gamers will be stoked," he says.
Image via GG | Culture