hummel Q&A

On 20 May 2020, Everton announced a Club-record technical partnership with iconic sportswear brand hummel.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic and its inevitable impact on the global retail industry, hummel and retail partner Fanatics, working alongside the Club’s Commercial team, have delivered successful and record-breaking kit launches in both 2020 and 2021.

Here hummel’s Chief Brand Officer Filip Trulsson and Danny Downs, UK General Manager at Fanatics, discuss a successful first 15 months in partnership together, the now complete 2021/22 kit campaign, their ongoing commitment to the environment, and plans to expand Everton’s retail presence across the world…

Filip, tell us about the first 15 months of the partnership with Everton. How does hummel reflect on what has been achieved so far?

FT: We were thrilled with how successful and how well-received all three of last season’s kits were and that now goes for this season’s kits, too. For us, I think the partnership has been a great learning curve. We have obviously had to get firmly introduced to the Club and to the supporters, and also strike up a great partnership with Fanatics on many things, including the opportunities to grow the relationship in the best way for fans in the UK and around the world. I think what struck us very early on was the passion, determination and the joint ambition of all three parties, and that was particularly evident with the way supporters from around the world were involved in this season’s home kit video. I particularly enjoyed last year’s third kit launch and how Everton’s disability players took a leading role in unveiling that kit. That inclusivity and community-focus Everton promotes was always at the forefront of our initial conversations about how we would find our way into the partnership, and it was fantastic to see it in action so early in our relationship. All six kit launches have broken different Club records and that is testament to our partnership and the desire of Everton’s global fanbase to support their Club.

Danny, how pleased are Fanatics with year one of the partnership with hummel?

DD: Really happy. So far, it’s been a really successful partnership, but I’m not surprised. I remember going to see hummel at their headquarters in Aarhus in Denmark in 2019 - and this was all pre-contract, pre-selection stage - but the amount of commitment and energy they put into it back then won everyone over. They manufactured a concept hummel Everton shirt and they had Thomas Gravesen come and present it to us. It was a sign from them to us - mainly to the Club and its fans - of how committed they were to the partnership. They made it clear to us then that Everton was going to be their flagship club, and we have seen that in their approach and their attitude. I think you have seen that through the designs and how fans have responded, not just to the kits but to items across the entire range.

We want to build on the affinity we have built with Evertonians – that relationship is vital

Filip, this year’s campaign is all about the fans and the family feel of Everton as a football club. The home kit, in particular, heavily featured Evertonians from around the world in its launch video and the away and third kits are nods to kits from the past that Evertonians have great affection for…

FT: Involving the fans in the campaign and creating kits that would mean something to all Evertonians was really important to us. We wanted to build on that successful fan affinity from season one and I think it was a very exciting and interesting dimension for season two to recognise Everton’s global fan base and then physically and tangibly demonstrate our commitment to that fan base through the campaign. Everton and the Premier League resonates with so many people across the world and that was a very exciting prospect to be able to integrate that. That was evident in the home kit launch and a key part of the rollout plan for the third kit, which saw the club debut it in Orlando, as well as Fanatics having it on sale for US supporters in the Camping World Stadium. hummel is focused on international growth and expansion and that marries up with the ambitions of the Club, so it made sense to do that.

DD: Fans really understand their football and they have never had more access to information on kits and the business of the game. So, if you’re producing a silhouette – i.e. an Everton version of a kit that another team or federation is already wearing - the fans will, of course, see through that, and they will let us and Everton know about it. When you have a brand that says we want to do something that’s entirely bespoke to your fans, your club, your history, like hummel has, that’s massive. 

Last season’s kits were environmentally friendly thanks to the ZEROH20 technology used in production. This season, ECO8 was introduced, meaning each Everton kit is manufactured from polyester produced from eight recycled plastic bottles. How important is it for football to be leading the way with the implementation of these technologies?

FT: It absolutely needs to be part of our repertoire and it is a central point for us at hummel. It is what we believe is right but, also, we know it is what is expected from the Club and fans in general, not just Evertonians. Everton have been clear in their Everton for Change campaign, so we felt this was an area where hummel needs to continue to be intuitive, to push things forward, and we are extremely pleased to have been able to incorporate ECO8 into the kits for 2021/22.  

DD: These things are not part of the labelling process - they aren’t just about appealing to the green nature of fans as a gimmick. This is absolutely central to who hummel are, what they are trying to be, and what Everton are trying to achieve. As a retailer, when you have a manufacturer that’s saying, ‘Look, it’s important to us that we get this as ecologically friendly as we possibly can’, that’s brilliant for us. Then we look at ways we can do our part in terms of the onwards packaging, shipping methods and so on.  

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03:36 Sat 28 Aug 2021


Manager reflects on Blues away-day success.

Filip, hummel have an existing presence in the United States and built on that in the first year of the partnership by working alongside Everton’s US-based Supporters’ Clubs. Tell us about that…

FT: For us, the US market is extremely important, and we have got good representation there, so we are constantly fine-tuning and working with the Club and Fanatics to improve distribution and tap-in to opportunities. One of the programmes we introduced last season was to work with the affiliated US supporters’ groups to see how, through a hummel foundation product programme, we can service them. By engaging with the Club’s Fan Engagement team and the Supporters’ Clubs themselves, we have provided them with their own range of merchandise, directly through hummel, that showcases their own brands. The Supporters’ Clubs were really keen on having their own identity that supports Everton and associates them with hummel. With Supporters Clubs’ now able to purchase these products directly through hummel, it means they don’t need to go and create white label products elsewhere. It has also been great to see and hear how passionate they are about their club, even though they live so far away. That was certainly evident again during Everton’s pre-season involvement in the Florida Cup and the supporters’ events in Orlando. It is very important for us and the Club to build on that, really be accessible and close to those fan groups and learn from that. The US has been a good test for us, and it could be something we explore in other areas if there is an appetite for it. 

Danny, what is the latest on Fanatics’ plans in the United States?

DD: With the Club’s efforts in North and South America, we have definitely seen the spark light across the Atlantic. Fanatics is a global company but our origins are in the US, so we have a natural position of strength in North America. We are about to roll out – we’re probably a month or two away now - some technology whereby our guys here in the UK can push all of our Everton digital catalogue into all of our US platforms. That includes our own platforms like Fanatics, FansEdge and Kitbag USA, but we also have strategic partnerships with the likes of Walmart, Kohl’s, JCPenney and Lids, so we can push the entire Everton range on to all their platforms. That gives Everton huge amounts of exposure, and Evertonians in North America greater access to every single product fans can get hold of here in the UK. At first that’s going to be fulfilled in the UK, so fans will still have to wait slightly longer, and shipping is going to be slightly more expensive, but these things take time and there is a lot of red tape to get through. We are going to test and learn and, as products become more popular, we will physically move those products into the local market. That will mean, as we move forward, nobody should be disadvantaged based on where they live.

And what about in Asia? And Ireland, too?

DD: In China, we have created Fanatics China. For Everton, what that means is we will be providing a ‘China to China’ proposition. That’s important because a lot of European brands try to put a European product and a European mindset into China, and history shows that just doesn’t work. They want the products to say Everton on them and they still want the correct blues, the correct pantones and so on, but they want it to be done in a Chinese style. By creating this company in China, we’re going to take everything that’s essential to the Everton ethos and history but it’s going to get a Chinese twist on it, and we think that is going to be huge for fans in China. We have also got offices and distribution centres in Tokyo, Japan, we have a strategic retail alliance with Coupang, an online retailer in South Korea, and we also have a distribution affiliate based in Melbourne to take care of the Asia Pacific region. So, we think from the back end of this year and going into 2022 we are going to see some real results for our Asian fans. It will also allow the Club to really engage with those fans and understand who they are, why they love Everton, and how they can create a relationship with them that’s beyond e-commerce and retail.  

In Ireland, we’ve heard the desire of fans and have been in discussions with a leading national sports store about how we can get much more Everton product into their stores. Due to a number of complex political issues on both side of the Irish Sea, that might not happen straight away, but it is definitely going to be in place for next season. We are, however, working really hard to get as much product in their hands in the short term as well, because we know that is really important for our Irish Evertonians. Of course, that goes for fans in Northern Ireland as well and we are currently working on something that we hope they will be really pleased with. We will have more news on that in the coming months and we will share it with everyone as soon as we can.

Finally, both, after the successful start to this partnership, what are your hopes for the future?

FT: Fanatics, hummel and Everton are a strong trio and I think what we are constantly looking to benefit from is the international width and range of the three entities. I think that is a responsibility we have. hummel has always put significant emphasis on long-term relationships and loyalty, and we are very pleased with how this partnership has been kicked off. We are looking forward to a strong future together and delivering even more for Evertonians.

DD: The same for us. This is our 12th year of partnership now with Everton but I can’t help thinking about work starting on Bramley-Moore Dock and - I can’t give too many spoilers away - but we are already working with the Club and hummel and thinking about how we create an appropriate send off for Goodison and then pivot into that new era on the banks of the Royal Blue Mersey, and how we can have an involvement in that. That is something I am really excited about in the long term but, the most important thing for us, is just to keep testing, learning, listening and expanding. We have some ambitious plans that are coming to fruition that will help make it easier for supporters to get their merchandise both in-store and online. And we are open to hearing from supporters. While we can’t always say yes to everything, it is important that we listen and that we try to deliver where we can.