Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Ralph Lauren, and Armani are just some of the latest high fashion brands to enter the esports industry.
In fact, as esports continues to rise in popularity, fashion has turned into a natural commercial route for esports organisations. As a result, multiple endemic entities have invested heavily in apparel as a part of growth strategies.
Whilst the esports sector has seen a variety of non-endemic fashion and apparel firms enter the space, one endemic name remains prominent — We Are Nations. Founded in 2016, We Are Nations has become a household name when it comes to esports and gaming apparel.
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We Are Nations has come a long way since its inception, and the company is now setting its sights on global growth. A key figure in the firm’s growth strategy is Zachary Sass, Nations’ VP of Commerce, who comes from a diverse background spanning retail, podcasting and brand development. Sass is also the founder of Sector Six, an esports jersey company We Are Nations acquired in 2019.
Esports Insider sat down with Sass to talk about the steps needed to elevate We Are Nations from a known player in esports, to a global destination retailer.
Becoming a destination
2021 was an eventful year for We Are Nations. The company partnered with game developer Valve for The International, as well as esports organisations FPX and Invictus Gaming. Nations also opened a new European warehouse, refreshed its website and revealed a ‘zero profit pricing’ collaboration with esports organisation Immortals.
The end goal for We Are Nations is to be the global leader in authentic esportswear merchandise. Although Sass could not confirm any details, he said there’s a strong possibility that Nations will continue its regional expansion in the coming months.
The main reason the company built its physical warehouse in the Netherlands is, of course, a logistical one. Sass noted that We Are Nations has most of its stock in inventory and the wise business idea is to spread inventory around different centres. This makes transporting to customers faster and cheaper.
In the physical realm, a destination retailer is a retail store people will go out of their way to shop at. We Are Nations is very much interested in being the premier go-to online shopping destination for esports-related apparel in the world. As such, a lot of effort has been made to improve all aspects of the shopping experience.
One such innovation is the ‘Nations Live’ tab on its website, where customers can watch events straight through the Nations website and be part of special promotions.
Sass explained: “Any time there’s a live event going on or a big event like The International or League of Legends Worlds, we have a feed embedded right into our website that you could access right from our site. And then from there, you click on that, and you could shop for anything specific to that event.
“So when The International was going on the entire International collection was viewable right on the right-hand side. So we’re bringing traffic to our website for the purpose of watching TI, then, at the same time, we could be like: ‘hey, you know, buy this.’”
Sass said this simple addition to the website provides huge value for We Are Nations. The company is essentially capturing the esports audience on its website, providing additional value to customers while also having the opportunity to sell to them directly.
Going above and beyond esports merch
The key component to being a destination retailer in the esports fashion space is, for Sass, building a ‘vibe’ for the company that goes beyond its merchandise. Sass said:“ We don’t want to be shoving merchandise down everyone’s throats — it’s more a question of what else we can provide.”
Sass continued by adding that We Are Nations wants to be the first mover in the industry. The company plans to do so by experimenting with new types of activations that are not common even within the sports industry. The firm wants to create a hub not just for merchandise, but with information and activities for those who want to dive straight into the esports industry.
For an illustration of that point, people only need to look at N2, the brand’s new foray into the streetwear-focused territory. The first collaboration was with Yoshitaka Amano, a Japanese artist known for his gaming-related conceptual illustration work. Sass commented: “[Amano’s] audience is similar to the esports audience in that it’s very about the art direction. There’s a similarity there. While N2 isn’t solely focused on esports and gaming, it’s focused on the culture and building a story around that culture.”
RELATED: We Are Nations opens European warehouse and relaunches website
Sass added that N2 gives We Are Nations another vertical to push towards, and further options to explore. N2’s product line is tailored to a broader market and not strictly to an esports audience, although the general designs do have a gaming aura around them. N2’s products will have limited-time ‘drops’. This is similar to how other streetwear brands operate, such as Supreme, and adds a sense of scarcity and allure to its products.
To conclude, Sass mentioned that We Are Nations is aiming to be at the forefront of new trends in the esports industry. Details around the new ventures remain secret for now, however, there will be further collaborations and merchandise drops through N2. With hints at further expansion in the near future, We Are Nations is certainly keeping all of its options open for 2022.
Supported by We Are Nations
ESI’s 2021 Events Calendar