June 21, 2018

HBI - Champion Demand Jumps Up

By Lois Sakany
Demand for Hanesbrands' Champion has been so intense that the brand is having trouble keeping up with fulfillment.

U.S. sources said demand for Hanesbrands Inc.'s Champion brand during 1H18 is very strong for its '90s-inspired cotton sweatshirts and sweatpants; demand is so intense, they said, that Champion has had difficulty keeping up with July order bookings. "Champion oversold its product and a lot of people who weren't Champion accounts before said they wanted product and now it's struggling to keep up," said a sport specialty source, who said the brand's shipments planned for July had more than doubled, setting up a record-breaking sales volume. The source's spring 2019 shipments are expected to come in even higher.  

A source who had placed first-time orders for Champion with plans for a July shipment said all orders for his chain were recently cancelled by the company. The same source suspected the brand was choosing to put aside orders from regional chains in order to fulfill orders with bigger chains like Foot Locker Inc.

"Apparel is hotter than ever," a source said. "Secondary brands like Champion are having problems. You're taking orders, but aren't able to produce them."

Sources said Champion uses what is viewed as an old-school order booking system, providing vendors with only two delivery windows per year: February and July. The practice stands in contrast to brands like Nike Inc. that ship throughout the year and also make use of auto-fulfillment to restock. "[Champion] wants you to buy everything up front, and then you get the big ship and that's it until the next year," said a source, who added that the system translates to a much bigger upfront cost and also demands that the retailer place a bigger bet on the brand's ability to sell through.

Champion has been at the forefront of the very au courant "team cozy" or "cozy 'fits" fashion look, a style defined by baggier, unisex outfits rooted in '90s-era style and brands. 

Urban Outfitters Inc. and Asos PLC were the first large retailers to address the "team cozy" trend and stock Champion in a big way. However, in a strategy spearheaded by Hanesbrands Chief Global Design Officer Ned Munroe, Champion during the past several years has purposely been building up its brand equity through very limited-edition collaborations with an array of highly regarded labels and retailers including Supreme, Kith NYC, Off-White LLC and Vetements Group AG, among others.

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