This is the latest move by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as they bid to root out drugs cheats ahead of Rio 2016.Athletics has been under a doping cloud recently, with scandals involving the IAAF, the sport’s world governing body, and star athletes while several countries, including Russia and Kenya, are facing exclusion from the Games.
We had a brief chat with ULT Founder Nate Eckman about this deal and what it means to them, and esports more widely. Check out some of the most popular items here. Esports Insider: ULT gear in a retail store – quite a milestone! How does it feel, what was the process and what does it mean for esports as a whole?Nate Eckman: Getting to help define an entirely new category of esports lifestyle at major retail is a truly fantastic feeling!Esports has evolved so much in cultural consciousness over the last few years and Zumiez has really enabled ULT to broaden that story even more. The process really started 2 years ago when we launched the ULT brand and showed our inspiration from modern design and streetwear infused in our passion for competitive video games.ULT got invited to show at the Agenda show which is where we got to meet up with general market retail buyers from many retail distributors including Zumiez. Thankfully at ULT, we have a very seasoned and experienced brand GM in Tim Haley who helped arrange and prepare all the necessary steps to get in front of the buyers correctly.Nate: Zumiez is known primarily for skateboarding fashion and apparel, do you see this as having more of a crossover than a more typical retail store?ESI: Yes absolutely. I think Zumiez is great for ULT since we have a very similar customer who loves video games and competitive action sports. Zumiez has been a big believer in developing this new category around esports and we have a campaign called ULT CULT which has been super exciting to rally our community.Basically, if you want to show support for esports in retail you can pickup ULT gear from Zumiez, share your story and pic using #ULTCULT and we are rewarding people with sponsored giveaways from our friends at DX Racer, HyperX and Talking Stick Resort for a fun fly away promotion this summer. Follow @ULTesports on IG and @ULTlosangeles on Twitter for info!Nate: A lot of brick and mortar outlets in fashion and beyond are known to be struggling; do you see more niche stores such as Zumiez as being the ones who’ll survive and even prosper?ESI: We love that Zumiez is about building for the future and helping to launch new brands like ULT. This is a totally new way for our customers and fans to experience our brand and it is an exciting time to be a fan of esports and gaming as we collectively define this lifestyle. Zumiez has been growing and I think it is because they share in the passion and vision for the culture that we at ULT do as well. We all want to offer the community something new that they love and value.ULT is all about being your best and we believe that Zumiez is one of the valued partners supporting us on our unique player journey. Esports and gaming apparel brand ULT has signed a deal with Zumiez which will see its wares on sale in stores across the United States. The company, which is based in Texas, has previously signed deals with the likes of Versus Sports, but this one is a major milestone as it enters an established retail chain which has existed since 1978. ULT gear will not be immediately rolled out in all Zumiez stores (of which there are over 680 stores globally, mostly in the US, but also in Canada, Europe and Australia). The ULT lines will initially be available in 25 stores with plans for far more beyond that. You can check if there’s one local to you right away with this handy map below: