Seeking motorsports apparel distributors
April 18, 2010 12:37 AM   Subscribe

Is there a US trade show or exposition that specializes in motorsports clothing and apparel, both those that drivers and the fans, wear?

This is roundabout way of me trying to find a list of motorsports clothing distributors in the US (not manufacturers) since trade shows often have a list of exhibitors on their site but a direct database to said distributors would be very much welcome. A motorsports apparel manufacturers association or some such would do the trick too.
posted by Muirwylde to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (5 answers total)
I really think that you're over-defining your problem, in that a lot of fan merchandise sold at NASCAR events, as an example (because it has just changed its model for licensing), is moving through normal licensed apparel channels (i.e. sportswear makers, cap makers, jacket makers, etc.). Up until this year, for NASCAR, that's been through the recently economically troubled Motorsports Authentics, but due to the business problems NASCAR and its teams have been having with MA, they've moved to set up an alternative "one stop" licensing agency. You'd probably get as good a view of that market by looking for a list of NASCAR licensees, perhaps with some expansion of your search into the top 10 teams licensing arrangements, as you would looking through the membership of organizations like the SGMA. I think you're going to find that an 80/20 rule definitely applies, too, as organizations that do licensed merchandise generally have to have the financial wherewithal to back their license commitments with inventory - NASCAR wants fans to be able to get branded apparel, and wants that apparel to be a positive reinforcement for the NASCAR brand. So, you'll see big outfits like Champion, New Era Cap, and Russell Athletic coming up a lot, underneath licensing deals done by outfits like Motorsports Authentics, because the big sportswear producers have the production capacity and financial clout to serve the market NASCAR wants served.

In other words, I think the universe of specialized motorsport apparel distributors is so small as to be insignificant, at least in terms of fan wear. Driver wear, from fire suits, to helments, to gloves, to overalls, to shoes, I expect, is probably dominated by manufacturers reps, who sign drivers and race teams to promotional contracts, and supply team apparel items as part of the compensation offered for the endorsement.
posted by paulsc at 7:53 AM on April 18, 2010

Kathleen at might have a source. You'll have better luck getting an answer if you pony up for a forum membership.

For the cycle part of motorsports you can check out the Dealer News Expo which is a big motorcycle trade show.
posted by vespabelle at 9:59 AM on April 18, 2010

The PRI show is the biggest racing industry show I can think of - I don't know of any separate ones for clothing, but being as their market is usually the racing industry itself, they are well represented there.

if you are looking for fan wear, rather than proper driver wear (this is very little overlap as the types of clothing drivers require are extremely expensive) then that is a good place to start. It's not very clear which type you are after. 'Motorsports clothing' is a little vague. Do you mean clothing used in motorsport itself, or that worn by the fans that watch it (ie fake team gear uniforms, etc)?
posted by Brockles at 12:51 PM on April 18, 2010

@ Brockles. I specified both driver and fan wear after the fold, but you are forgiven for your snark. Thank you for the PRI link. That looks truly useful as I can just mine the exhibitor list.

@paulsc. I, in fact, did the opposite and under defined my need. I am looking for even more specificity, namely dye sublimated motorsports apparel. Your comment that the motorsports apparel industry is insignificant is simply naïve. Despite the metasnark, your SGMA link coughed up a research department that may be the path of least resistance to getting the data I require. I've emailed them. The NASCAR specific licensing saga was also very interesting and timely as well as the impending bankruptcy of the industries biggest player. Excellent response. Thank you.

@vespabelle. Finally, the link to the motorcycle specific trade show (Dealer News Expo) rounded things out nicely and all delivered without snark. I kind of missed that vespabelle but thank for the excellent link anyway. Another exhibitor list to mine.

Thank you all.
posted by Muirwylde at 11:12 PM on April 18, 2010

I specified both driver and fan wear after the fold, but you are forgiven for your snark.

You may want to try being a little less sensitive. There is no common fan and driver wear in the area of motorsport that I have spent my entire working life in. That was why I made the comment. As such, all the manufacturers of driver clothing that I know of very rarely supply any significant volume (if any) fan-orientated clothing and vice versa. This was why I questioned what you meant by 'driver wear'. It is not at all the same market as fan wear. While I am not at all sure what 'dye sublimated motorsports apparel' is, it doesn't sound too much like "FIA approved triple layer nomex fireproof suits" to me.

You need to reset your snark levels, although I think you were bang on with the naivety of paulsc's comment about the size of the industry.
posted by Brockles at 5:45 AM on April 19, 2010

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