There's a huge misconception that women follow women's football and men follow men's football. I always thought this issue was fan led and said by a bunch of people who don't really understand the data but when I launched FOUDYS.com I realised this is assumed from the very bottom to the very top of the footballing world and that no one seems to be reliant on the data.
This issue is perpetuated by the fact that a lot of women don't actually like women's fit jerseys so brands are reducing the amount of women's club/international/nwsl shirts in circulation because they think people don't want to own women's kits. THEY DO, THEY JUST WANT KITS THAT FIT THEM.
I think (but can only assume) that brands and clubs haven't actually asked women what they think about women's fit clothing. In a recent conversation with a Nike representative they were shocked to hear that female FOUDYS customers would choose a men's fit jersey over women's fit kit.
I did a piece on sizing which goes into the shape of the kits, but essentially peoples buying habits have got nothing to do with gender and everything to do with what you feel flatters your body type.
This issue around finding men's fit jerseys for my women's football website has been a constant struggle for me and I'd like to share some of the issues I've come across as well as the factual FOUDYS.com data around women's football fans.
Women's World Cup 2019
This tournament changed the face of women's football. It grew the sport overnight and created megastar players. People were desperate to get hold of their nations jerseys (good luck) and slap their favourite players name on the back. In 2019 the most sold jersey on Nikes website WORLDWIDE was the USWNT jersey.
You'd look around local pubs which would be filled with male and female fans, you'd head over to France and sit in the stadium surrounded by men, women and children. So why were (and are) men being shut out of WWC2019 fandom by jersey manufacturers? Nike produced a selection of men's fit jerseys but the large proportion of World Cup jerseys made were women's fit only. This means a proportion of people cant even fit into the jerseys and some can't stand the way a women's fit looks on them.
The three biggest jersey sellers (USA, England and Netherlands) are now only available in women's fit which is preferential to only 40% of my audience.
The giant clubs are getting in the swing of having awesome women's teams. Take last years 2020 Champions League finalists for example. Both Barcelona and Lyon are powerful forces in men's and women's football... but both have missed the mark with their women's merch:
✅ Have a section of their website dedicated to women's team merchandise
❌ Only sell this seasons jerseys with Mastercard sponsor (not the regularly worn SWORD sponsor)
✅ Shirt has ⭐ specifically on the women's club jersey to commemorate their 2019/20 dominance
✅ You can order player names automatically on jerseys. But...
❌ Only in the men's Ligue1 font (not worn by the women's team) 🤷♀️
✅ There's a great selection of jerseys, shorts and socks
❌ The men's team have 5 pages dedicated to their merchandise, the women's team have 3 pages of merch (swift reminder that Lyon Women are still the biggest team in Women's Football).
❌ Lastly and most importantly... the style and cut of EVERY SINGLE Lyon Women's Team jersey is for people who fit in women's clothes.
✅ Images of the women's players appear alongside the legendary Barcelona male superstars on their online store
✅ The online store sells the women's official jersey (Stanley Sponsor) for both Home and Away kits
✅ You can personalise your jersey... but...
❌ Only up to 9 letters and...
❌ The wrong font for the women's team
❌ Lastly and most importantly... the style and cut of EVERY SINGLE Barcelona Women's Team jersey is for people who fit in women's clothes.
To me it feels like these brands have created women's fit clothes as an inclusion piece (to appease fans) but haven't actually followed through to see what women want or feel comfortable in. Then they've mass produced them for women's football fans and international women's teams without looking at the demographics and assuming only women like women's football.
Here's the facts: Over 60% of FOUDYS.com sales are made by men buying M-XXL in mens sizes. Over 80% of orders are for men's fit jerseys. Circa 40% of the items on the store are only offered in women's fit (through no fault of the FOUDYS team!)
So if you ever speak to Nike, Adidas, Club represenatives etc then tell them:
- Men like women's football
- Women like men's fit football shirts