Mitchell & Ness is gaining a wide swath of NHL licensing rights, one of its first major business moves since becoming part of the Fanatics portfolio.
Fanatics and the NHL announced Wednesday that Mitchell & Ness, which Fanatics purchased in February, has been granted rights to design and sell officially licensed product for all 32 NHL franchises. The retro and streetwear brand also separately inked deals with the NHLPA and the NHL Alumni Association to secure licensing rights to current and former hockey players.
The NHL rights are coming through Fanatics itself, which in 2016 inked a 16-year partnership with the league to extend its e-commerce relationship, acquire new licenses rights, and carve out new product rights like fan jerseys and championship gear. Mitchell & Ness is becoming an authorized brand inside that wider deal, according to Fanatics. It’s unclear how the economics of the Fanatics/NHL relationship change, if at all.
“We’ve been thrilled with the addition of Mitchell & Ness into the Fanatics portfolio, and the ability to extend Fanatics’ rights with the NHL to their brand will create an incredible new experience for fans everywhere,” Joe Bozich, president of Fanatics Brands, said in a statement.
The partnership shows just how entrenched Fanatics is in the world of licensed sports apparel, and how business relationships on one side of the company can often benefit other parts of its domain. The company, now one of the world’s most valuable private companies, is both a major licensing partner for the biggest U.S. leagues, and an investor in some of the country’s biggest licensed sports brands. They include Mitchell & Ness, Lids and WinCraft.
Mitchell & Ness’s NHL product will be distributed through Fanatics’ full network, including the NHL’s official U.S. and Canada online stores, its flagship New York City retail location, and the online shops for all 32 teams. Prior to this deal, Mitchell & Ness made some NHL product for a handful of individual teams, sold only at in-arena team shops.
Fanatics led a group that purchased Mitchell & Ness in February for $250 million. Fanatics owns about 75% of the company, with the rest held by a group of celebrity investors, including rappers Jay-Z, Meek Mill and Lil Baby; entrepreneur Maverick Carter; and the TikTok-famous D’Amelio family.
Street fashion and nostalgia gear are among the fast-growing product categories at Fanatics, and many leagues view Mitchell & Ness has a conduit to new fans who might not otherwise buy their products. The new Mitchell & Ness NHL products are expected to launch in November.