Goal Five becomes the first apparel brand that celebrates the greatness of female soccer players.
It all started in 2015 when the U.S. Women’s National Team was playing in the Women’s World Cup. Watching them play, lifelong marketer Keely Wachs noticed how his two sons, along with the rest of the country, was captivated by the team. And then the realization hit.
“These amazing athletes were being treated as second-class citizens. They were paid less. They were put up in hotels that were much less nice than what you’d find the men in. They were playing on really horrible fields and conditions,” says Wachs.
The inequality in the sport was jarring and led Wachs to brainstorm what he could do to support the millions of women playing soccer.
“It dawned on me that these amazing female athletes did not have a single apparel brand dedicated just to them,” says Wachs.
Inspiration struck and Wachs started to put his idea into motion.
Today, Wachs and his partners, Carrie Kessler, an executive with Banana Republic, and Ann Kletz, social entrepreneur and former Harvard soccer player, launch Goal Five, the first apparel brand that celebrates the greatness of female soccer players.
Goal Five aims to shine a spotlight on the issue of gender equality, a topic that is increasingly being discussed both in and outside of sports.
Wachs, Kessler, and Kletz, like many others, were tired of the rampant under appreciation of women in sports, particularly in soccer, where women significantly outperform their male counterparts.
The team tapped into their passion and took action, realizing, as they explored the possibility of creating a clothing brand, just how great the need for that brand is.
An estimated 40 million females play soccer around the world, 15 million of whom are in the U.S. and Canada. These girls and women spend upwards of $3,500 dollars on clothing and $300 a year on competitive soccer gear, yet there is no brand that solely focuses on female soccer apparel.
While the sports apparel market is a crowded space with no shortage of brands, in conversations with women and girls across the country, the Goal Five team learned that their needs were not being met when it came to soccer apparel.
This was evident, they noticed, in the ways many girls wore their clothes while they played: with their shorts rolled up and shirts tied at the back.
“The big athletic brands were basically taking a man’s silhouette and putting little details on it that made it appeal to a woman, but at the end of the day they were really unsatisfied with the fit. It wasn’t made for them,” says Wachs.
Kessler led the product creation process, integrating athletes’ feedback and customizing the apparel to various body types, refusing to settle with copying the brand’s logo on blank designs.
The design process emulates the way the brand operates, celebrating female athletes and putting them front and center.
“I want her to feel as special as she is every time she interacts with our brand…I want her to feel like we care about her and we’re looking out for her and we’re celebrating her,” says Wachs, describing how Goal Five aims to interact with its ideal customer.
At a launch event in Oakland on Saturday night, the team emphasized the driving vision that led to the creation of the brand — equality. The founders were there not only to celebrate each other and the launch of Goal Five, but also to celebrate women’s sports — and women’s soccer.
The vision of equality is deeply rooted in the name Goal Five, inspired by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal Five, which states a mission to ensure that all girls and women have an equal opportunity to play. In collaboration with nonprofit streetfootballworld, Goal Five will dedicate five percent of all profits to advancing gender equality in soccer, cementing its commitment to pursuing equality.
The brand means a lot to its athlete ambassadors, which include Lauren Barnes (Seattle Reign, USWNT), Gina Lewandowski (FC Bayern Munich), Joanna Lohman (Washington Spirit), and Carson Pickett (Seattle Reign FC), among others. A handful of ambassadors attended the launch event and word has spread fast within the female soccer community, causing the fast growth of social media platforms before the official launch date.
Sky Blue FC defender and Goal Five ambassador Kayla Mills best summed up what the brand means to her during an impassioned speech at the launch party on Saturday, stating, “[Goal Five] is the world’s reminder that as female soccer players, we are here to stay.”
The future is female. And Goal Five knows it.
This piece has been presented to you by SMU’s Master of Science in Sport Management.
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