Zappos Becomes the UFC’s Official Licensing Partner

UFC and Zappos have joined forces in a licensing deal that would see the online retailer become the exclusive manufacturer and distributor of officially licensed UFC merchandise sold in the United States.

Today, the two Las Vegas-based companies announced a multiyear partnership in which Zappos will create officially licensed lifestyle apparel for men, women and children, in addition to fan gear, as well as footwear, headwear and other accessories. The launch on Zappos.com is scheduled for Jan. 18.

“While Zappos is a national brand, we value our Las Vegas community and its many sports fans,” head of UFC product and “Z-Athlete” at Zappos Karim Wazani wrote in an email to FN. “We are excited to reach new audiences through UFC’s vast and loyal fanbase, and become the one-stop-shop for their favorite gear.”

According to the retailer, Zappos has manufactured product before, but never at this scale. The company also plans to sell to other retailers in the future.

Under the agreement, Zappos will have the rights on an exclusive basis in the U.S. and non-exclusively internationally. In July, the mixed martial arts organization announced that combat sports apparel and accessory brand Venum would become its new exclusive global outfitting and apparel partner starting in 2021. Its existing partnership with Reebok expires in March. (The athletic brand will continue to be UFC’s footwear provider through the end of the next calendar year.)

“Our merchandise and apparel is a primary touch point that helps connect our fans with UFC’s brand,” UFC SVP of global consumer products Tracey Bleczinski said in a statement. “Zappos is a company of innovators in online retail. Their customer service is without equal, their reach is global, and they are part of the Amazon family.”

Kedar Deshpande, who took the reins as CEO of Zappos in late August, added, “Through our partnership with UFC, we’re excited to bring ‘wow’ to a whole new customer. It’s a very natural relationship — we’re both Las Vegas-based organizations that share a passion for inclusivity which extends into the fitness world.”

Zappos has been building on its wholesale partnership as of late: Just in October, it announced a partnership with L.L.Bean, enabling the retailer to sell the outdoor brand’s iconic duck boots and other merchandise on its website.

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