NFL Unveils New Merchandise Designed by FIT Students

More fun news from around the world of sports business. As usual, I’m going to share the contents from the official press release and then my own quick thoughts.

NFL Unveils New Merchandise With Graphics Designed by FIT Students

NFL x FIT Merchandise Showcase Open to the Public at Museum of Arts and Design

The National Football League (NFL) and the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) opened a showcase last night to display new merchandise created to reach the next generation of NFL fans, with graphic elements designed by FIT students. The new product line is the result of the NFLxFIT Merchandising Design Contest, which challenged students earlier this year to create a new series of design treatments inspired by all 32 NFL clubs’ logos and fan cultures.

The NFLxFIT line was unveiled at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City, as part of a showcase that revealed the design process in applying new graphics to apparel and homegoods. NFL licensees, including Antigua, Outerstuff, Forever Collectibles, Northwest, G-III, and New Era, used the students’ design elements to produce NFL merchandise.  The graphic elements and products were specifically created to cater to millennial and Gen Z audiences. The new NFLxFIT line is now available on, and the showcase will remain open for public viewing through November 30.

In honor of the unveiling, a panel was held to discuss the importance of finding new ways to reach and engage younger audiences through creating fresh looks into the products they already love. The panel was hosted by Kay Adams, NFL Network, and featured special guests: Fashion Designer Cynthia Rowley, FIT Professor C.J. Yeh and Assistant Professor Christie Shin, NFL’s Vice President of Consumer Products Rhiannon Madden, and the FIT student designers of the new NFL merchandise: Wing-Sze Ho, Eun Su Yoo, Arpi Dayian and Iwona Usakiewicz.

FIT students Wing-Sze Ho, Eun Su Yoo, Arpi Dayian, Iwona Usakiewicz attend the NFLxFIT event at the Museum of Arts and Design on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017 in New York. The product showcase, on display until November 30th, highlights new team graphics available at (Mark Von Holden/AP Images for NFL)

“The goal of this project was to give creative freedom to FIT’s talented students to express how they would reimagine visual interpretations that represent all 32 NFL teams’ identities,” said Madden. “Millennials are an important audience for the NFL, and we want our products to resonate and be relatable to them – and there’s no better way to do that than by engaging FIT students to create fresh designs.”

“The NFLxFIT collaboration has been an important and exciting process for all involved,” said Yeh. “A diverse group of students, all minoring in Creative Technology, brought their A-game to the challenge. With the official launch of the merchandise underway, all of us at FIT are excited to see the students’ designs come to life.”

Designer Cynthia Rowley and NFL Network host Kay Adams attend the NFLxFIT event at the Museum of Arts and Design on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017 in New York. The product showcase, on display until November 30th, highlights new team graphics available at (Mark Von Holden/AP Images for NFL)

The NFLxFIT Merchandising Design Contest was created last year. Through an experiential learning process designed by the contest’s faculty advisors, Professor C.J. Yeh and Assistant Professor Christie Shin, student participants learned from top industry professionals, including FIT faculty members from the School of Art and Design and brand management experts from the NFL.  In total, six teams – comprised of FIT students minoring in Creative Technology from a variety of majors and backgrounds – participated in the contest. Team Quicksnap was identified as the winning team in the spring, and now their designs, graphic elements, and branding treatments are available through NFL retailers.

My Take:

This is a simple and creative way to both engage with an education provider and think differently about branding, design and merchandise options. All sports brands and properties have to find ways to evolve as the demographic, psychographic and behavioral composition of their fan base evolves, and often times you need to go outside the organization to spur that evolution. The students and faculty at FIT aren’t bound by the same organizational thinking and methodology that the staff inside the NFL would be, even on a subconscious level.

Ultimately, any opportunity to allow outside ideas and new perspectives to enter an organization can have a great impact, as long as those ideas are listened to with an open mind and given credence in the decision making process.


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