WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — March 9, 2018 — Let the madness begin. Win or go home. Full-court press. Beat the clock. Nail biters. Turns out, that is the challenge on and off the college basketball court in March.
For the 20th consecutive year, HanesBrands’ graphic design, screen-printing and logistics teams in Lenexa, Kan., will begin a month-long mad dash to create art, print and ship almost half a million pieces of tournament-specific apparel to game sites across the country as soon as the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee reveals on Selection Sunday this weekend which 68 college basketball teams will take the dance floor.
“They call it March Madness for a reason,” said John Fryer, HanesBrands president, sports and graphic apparel. “Come Sunday, we will begin an absolute frenzy of activity to meet the daunting apparel needs of one of the world’s greatest sporting events. We will need to refresh the graphic artwork and print more shirts and hats each week as teams advance, and we’ll do it with as little as 48 hours’ notice for three consecutive weeks. March Madness is one of the most exhilarating, exhausting and satisfying business challenges of the year.”
And come Selection Monday for the Division I women’s national tournament, the madness of March will double with another 64 teams announced.
HanesBrands’ Event 1 business, part of the company’s Sports Apparel division, has served as the NCAA’s onsite apparel concessionaire for the national tournaments since 1998. The company will operate multiple sales concessions at the 14 different game locations for the men’s tournament and 21 game locations for the women’s tournament.
T-shirts and hats account for about 80 percent of sales, but fans also expect the availability of fleece, hoodies and up to 150 other items to be available at each stage of the events.
The company’s Sports Apparel division’s retail business operations will get in on the action as well. To provide tournament-specific apparel to thousands of local mass merchant and department stores seeking to stock fanwear for their area’s favorite teams, the company will utilize local screen-printers around the country to provide specialized quick-turn service.
“Onsite at the tournament games and in stores around the country, many fans not only want apparel representing their favorite collegiate team, they also want apparel specifically designed for a regional final, Sweet 16, Elite 8 or Final Four appearance,” Fryer said.
The March Madness magic for HanesBrands comes from utilizing the scale of its largely self-owned manufacturing — including scores of in-house graphic designers and direct-to-garment printing operations — along with in-market contract screen printers that allow the company to customize, produce, ship and sell apparel within 48 hours as teams advance in the tournament, eventually whittling down the 9.2 quintillion matchup possibilities at the start of the tournament to the certainty of just one at the end.
The work begins ahead of Selection Sunday as the more than 50-member graphic design team begins design work as teams automatically qualify for the tournament. Immediately after the regional seedings are announced on Selection Sunday, the team has just two days to create apparel for the tournament’s play-in games.
More than 100 different pieces of art are produced during and immediately following the announcement of the 68-team field, and every approved design will be on press Monday and delivered in advance of the first-round games. This process is repeated during each round, culminating in the Final Four where HanesBrands has exclusive rights this year to sell licensed fanwear at the Alamodome in San Antonio, along with 15 NCAA sanctioned hotels, the March Madness Music Festival and Fan Fest during the men’s tournament, and at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, as well as at six NCAA sanctioned hotels and Tourney Town during the women’s tournament.
“The championship shirt adds an extra level of complexity to our process,” Fryer said. “We produce shirts for both schools and, as the final buzzer sounds, we begin stocking the shelves. So while close games and buzzer beaters can be exciting for fans, our team typically hopes that they can predict the winner a few minutes ahead of the game’s end.”
The tournament ends in a flourish as excitement builds throughout the month. Approximately 25 percent of all the apparel sold during the tournament is bought at the Final Four semifinal and National Championship games.
Posted March 9, 2018