Now, as the Cult of Sporting Kansas City grows, soccer jerseys are nearly everywhere – at bars, concerts, bus stops and grocery stores across the metro.Last year, according to John Moncke, Sporting Kansas City’s vice president of stadium and brand revenue, the No. 1 MLS team in merchandise sales was Seattle, and it has 45,000 people coming to each match. Sporting KC, which averaged 19,709 fans a game, was a close No. 2.Compare that to 2010, when Kansas City was in last place among all MLS teams (and even the general MLS brand) in merchandise sales.Sporting Park, which opened in 2012 and has become one of the best stadiums in all of American soccer, was packed last year with sellouts at all 34 MLS games.The surge in sales and popularity can mostly be attributed to the team’s success on the field.The Cult of Sporting Kansas City has been growing since the team’s rebranding in 2011, culminating in the team winning the MLS Cup at Sporting Park in December.
A key component of KC’s success off the field has been the transition away from dealing in just sports apparel and toward what Moncke, who was a buyer of men’s fashion before joining the club, calls a fashion and lifestyle brand.”We wanted to treat this club as a fashion company,” he said. “We focused on fit, fabric and the right trends. I think that is what’s helped the club outperform some of the bigger-sized markets in the league.”This starts with the most consistent and important piece of fashion the team sells: the jerseys.Buying a jersey for any sport is a big emotional investment. You are marking yourself to those around you as a fan of that team. It’s a fairly large financial investment, too.Soccer jerseys aren’t cheap and, following much of the fashion world, are constantly changing. This year, an authentic MLS jersey (designed by Adidas, which has an exclusive contract with MLS) will run you about $130 without any lettering on the back. Adidas changes the design every two years, so if you want to stay current, it’ll cost you to keep up.A jersey that can be worn on and off the field adds versatility to that investment.”When you look at our three kits, they are all very different from each other, but together they look like a collection,” Moncke says.A kit is a fancy soccer term for the entire uniform. The team has three uniforms, a primary, secondary and third. Generally, the primary kit is for home games, the secondary for away games and the third if the opponent’s uniform is too similar to the primary and secondary.