Authentic Brands Acquires TapouT & Silver Star

Posted: September 7, 2010 in Bellator, Marketing, PR, Strikeforce, UFC

Very interesting move in the world of MMA slipped through during the Labor Day holiday weekend.  Authentic Brands Group today officially announced the acquisition of Tapout and Silver Star two of the biggest clothing names in the industry.  According to the official release (embedded below), Authentic Brands Group acquired TapouT and Silver Star as part of its multi-branded distribution strategy designed to protect brand integrity.

With the acquisition of TapouT, Authentic Brands Group now owns the number one MMA lifestyle brand in the world, a brand name that has become synonymous with the sport itself.  TapouT has global brand awareness that has grown alongside the MMA over the last 15 years by staying focused on the athletes and the fans.

I was curious what this would mean for management, as many acquisitions involve buyouts and instant exit strategies.  In this case, Authentic was smart enough to keep the management team on board in order to maintain its …well, authenticity.  TapouT’s “Punkass” and Tim “SkySkrape” Katz will stay on as the company’s president and marketing/creative director respectively and will also be joined by Silver Star co-founder Luke Burrett, according to the following article by Bloomberg.

For those unfamiliar with Authentic brands, the company has a history of growing brands and has previously worked with the likes Polaroid, The Sharper Image and Linen ‘n Things.

What this means: Look out Nike and other large sporting brands.  This acquisition is the opening salvo for a clothing war.  Tapout and Silver Star are two of the biggest names in MMA apparel, gear, and (recently) gyms/gym equipment.   The popularity of the clothes has been amazing.  In a matter of the last 5 years or so I have noticed a huge uptick in the average Joe/Jill wearing these shirts/shorts/etc across town.  Previously, you would only see a fighter with this line of clothing on, now MMA fans (and folks that just like the designs) are wearing these lines as day-to-day wear.  With clothes now sold in consumer stores and a larger bankroll behind its marketing – this could be the beginning of a sports clothing revolution.  Similar to what Nike, Puma and other shoe lines have done for themselves, Authentic could become THE new clothing line for athletes of multiple sports and consumers alike.  On the plus side for consumers, as the shirts are already ridiculously priced I don’t think we’ll have to worry about prices skyrocketing.

My take: I’m torn here.  The prospect of the brands growing is great for MMA, however I am always leery of the “one-throat-to-choke” approach to an industry.  This will put much of the MMA clothing industry in one camp – if the camp makes a mistake, a lot of dominoes fall….

What do you think of this move?

Authentic Brands Group Acquires TapouT and Silver Star Casting Company

NEW YORK and LOS ANGELES and TORONTO, Sept. 7 /PRNewswire/ — Authentic Brands Group, LLC, with offices in New York, Los Angeles, and Toronto, is proud to announce the acquisition of TapouT and Silver Star Casting Company (Silver Star), two of the biggest names in the mixed martial arts (MMA) industry.  MMA is the world’s fastest growing sport with billions of dollars in annual revenue and global appeal. Authentic Brands Group acquired TapouT and Silver Star as part of its multi-branded distribution strategy designed to protect brand integrity.

Authentic Brands Group has global brand building experience in apparel, action sports, consumer electronics, home and celebrity brands. The company’s innovative marketing strategies include traditional and social media, and securing partnerships with high profile athletes and celebrities.

Authentic Brands Group’s Chairman & CEO Jamie Salter said, “This sport is still in its infancy. We strategically chose these acquisitions as our first big move because we’re getting into the right business at the right time. We’re looking forward to working with the best brands and the best athletes in the world as we transition these two companies into global lifestyle brands with our retail and licensing partners.”

With the acquisition of TapouT, Authentic Brands Group now owns the number one MMA lifestyle brand in the world, a brand name that has become synonymous with the sport itself.  TapouT has global brand awareness that has grown alongside the MMA over the last 15 years by staying focused on the athletes and the fans. Built by three impassioned men who trained in MMA, the late Charles “Mask” Lewis, Dan “Punkass” Caldwell and Timm “Skyskrape” Katz, TapouT has maintained its authenticity through its rapid growth by staying deeply rooted in the MMA culture.

Caldwell said, “TapouT is more than a company or a brand to me, it is a way of life. With the passing of my best friend and co-founder Charles “Mask” Lewis, we’ve been through a lot. Now we are focused on continuing to set the standard as the industry leader, bringing to life Mask’s dream of building a billion dollar empire. Authentic Brands Group understands what TapouT is about and they share our vision. Mask always said to simply ‘believe’ and that one word became our formula for success. We believe in Authentic Brands Group and they believe in us.”

Silver Star Casting Company is a lifestyle apparel brand that has made its mark in the MMA, action sports and motor sports industries. Founder and President of Silver Star Luke Burrett, and his wife/ business partner Charis Burrett, have successfully marketed the brand across these sport categories by supporting athletes and keeping them accessible to the fans. Silver Star is committed to sponsoring only champion level athletes such as MMA middleweight champion Anderson Silva and fan favorite Clay Guida.

“Charis and I are extremely excited to work with the Authentic Brands Group team to take Silver Star to the next level. We’ve built our brand on staying true to our passion for sponsoring champions and making high quality products,” said Luke Burrett. “We are confident that having Authentic Brands Group behind us will allow us to realize our goals and the potential of the brand.”

About TapouT
TapouT is the world’s leading MMA apparel, gear and lifestyle brand for men, women and children and represents the biggest MMA superstars including Rashad Evans, Rich Franklin, Dan Hardy, Thiago Alves, Chael Sonnen and Roy Nelson. TapouT boasts a sought-after clothing line, a TV reality show, TapouT Radio and is the official apparel brand for Spike TV’s hit reality show “The Ultimate Fighter.” TapouT can be purchased in more than 20,000 retail stores worldwide. Brand names under the TapouT business entity include TapouT, TapouT MPS, and Hitman Fight Gear.
http://www.TapouT.com   http://www.hitmanfightgear.com

About Silver Star Casting Company
Silver Star Casting Company was founded in 1993 as an athletic lifestyle brand built for champions. Silver Star has a dedicated and loyal consumer base inside mixed martial arts, action sports, motor sports and Hollywood through athlete and celebrity endorsements and has built its reputation as an original, art-driven, edgy and confident trend setter. The Silver Star brand is an official sponsor of the UFC at the mid to upper-tier level of distribution, and its sub-brand Iron Star is available at the mid-tier to mass retail level.
http://www.silverstarnow.com.

About Authentic Brands Group LLC
Authentic Brands Group’s mission, in partnership with Leonard Green & Partners and Knights Bridge Capital Inc. a wholly owned subsidiary of Counsel Corporation, is to acquire a global portfolio of world-renowned brands and to enhance brand equity through partnering with best-in-class brand licensees. ABG acquires iconic consumer brands in the active lifestyle, celebrity, media & entertainment, sporting goods, and consumer electronics segments. Currently the company holds TapouT, Tapout MPS, Silver Star Casting Company, Hitman Fight Gear, and Iron Star in its growing portfolio.  The company also manages the Bob Marley family of brands.
http://www.authenticbrandsgroup.com

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