Ok, WWE. You know I love you an unhealthy amount, but I’ve got a bone to pick with you. I am giving you the cold shoulder, pulling my sucking-lemons face and making you sleep on the sofa until you apologise to me.
What’s that? You don’t know what you’ve got to apologise for? Typical. Typical. I could go down the route of “if you don’t know, I’m not going to tell you!” But that would achieve nothing, so if I’ve really got to spell it out for you…….your merchandise for women is COMPLETE CRAP!
There. I said it. When I first started watching wrestling back in around 99, there was no such thing as the woman’s t-shirt. The only slightly female related merchandise was some gross jewellery that nobody with even an ounce of fashion savvy would hang from their face. Bleurgh! Even the men’s t-shirts were rubbish. They were almost always black, screen printed atrocities that looked cheap as chips to churn out. Occasionally they would bring out special edition football style jerseys or hockey jerseys, but I didn’t have any of them. I couldn’t afford them. I remember lusting over The Rock’s football jersey…..or did I just lust over The Rock IN a football jeresey. I forget. This is what one of the merchandise catalogues looked like in 1999.
Yep, I kept it. I’m kind of magpie like that. EVERYTHING in there was black-black-black. But we knew no better then. Poor 1990’s fools. With the launch and immense popularity of brands such as Afflication clothing, and the increasing popularity of mixed martial arts, the WWE needed a complete overhaul of their clothing designs. Fair play, they did a good job. They introduced colour, emulated the intricate artwork of their competitors and, even though I’m not personally keen on most of the designs, they significantly upped their game in the shopping department.
They now have a Retro/Legends section, where you can buy some of the most famous shirts from yester-year, and some fun-stuff too. I like that. It shows a bit of humour, and bit of jest, which is what it’s all supposed to be about, right?
And, of course, there’s the new(ish) luxury range of pricey, but super-trendy, slim fit shirts – Top Rope. I do kind of like some of these shirts. They have an air of effort about them. But come on WWE….$45 for a shirt is a little over-the-top ain’t it? Is that why they’re called Top Rope shirts? Eh? Eh? I suppose people must be paying for them or they wouldn’t keep making them. About as close to a rival brand for Affliction as the WWE is likely to get.
All this progress would be admirable if one key customer group hadn’t been ignored – the ladies. Girls, women, chicks, gals, broads, birds, whatever. We. Have. Nothing. Ok, nothing is a little strong. But it’s not far off. And it makes me madder than Triple H when Randy Orton kissed Stephanie’s mush right in front of him. I saw a WWE statistic this week which claimed that 40% of WWE fans are women. That’s brilliant. That’s almost half your viewers. You wouldn’t know it by looking at their shopzone pages.
It all started so well. A new shirt appeared on the back of some superstar on the shows, and as quick as you could navigate your way to the shopzone, it was there. Soon after it would appear in the women’s section with a slightly different cut, to accommodate our curves. I bought the Triple H double-skull t-shirt in women’s cut and didn’t even mind that it was the same price as a man’s shirt (despite being half the fabric).
As time went on though, the women’s cut t-shirts dried up to a trickle. I checked regularly for new products. Nothing. Yet the men’s section was flooded with new stock continuously. To those thinking “why don’t you just buy a man’s shirt then?”….. I shall try to explain. Just because we’re ladies who like wrestling, it doesn’t mean we want to look like boys. It’s ok to want to watch two men do elbow drops on each other from a great height and still want to look feminine. I want to look sexy while I scream “PUNCH HIS HEAD IN, JERICHOOOOO”. And I don’t mean we want you to go completely the other way and dress us like this either…..
Oh Mariah! You over-sexed pop starlet.
Female sportswear can be cool without being manly or slutty. If you need some pointers, check out what Alyssa Milano did with MLB. I’m not much for baseball (isn’t it just a suped-up game of rounders?) but I like the effort they’ve put in to the women’s merchandise. From what I hear, Alyssa had a huge hand in bringing this about. Bravo, pretty-lady. Not all these are from Alyssa’s range, but it just goes to show what you can do with just a little imagination and some female input.
Even if you don’t want to go that far, just release every new t-shirt in a women’s cut. It’s not difficult. You’ve already had the design work commissioned anyway. You’ve already asked for it to be made in a youth size. Just go that extra step, you know, for 40% of your viewers. The frustrating thing for me is that I want to buy WWE merchandise. I do. I have money to spend and I want to put it in Vince McMahon’s pocket, but I refuse to buy a man’s shirt because it’s the only thing available. I know it won’t fit properly, so you miss out on my money.
For example, here’s the current Chris Jericho shirt.
He doesn’t wear it too much at the mo because he’s being a besuited baddie. But when I first saw it, I wanted it. I was willing to pay my hard earned cash for it. It was never released in a women’s cut. Hey, WWE, that’s $25 you missed out on, fools. Your loss. Look, all I’m trying to say here is that if 40% of WWE fans are female, the WWE have a HUGE merchandise market they’re not tapping in to. HUUUUGE! The possibilites are endless. I even find myself looking at the kids’ jewellery because they women’s stuff is so tasteless. The kiddie stuff is kinda cool, in a pop-art sort of way.
Let’s take a look at what is currently available on wweshop.com.
Click on CATEGORY, then WOMEN’S. There is a link to some hideous jewellery, a link to ONE really old vest, a link to some over-priced women’s belts and a link to seven t-shirts. SEVEN. Two of those are ‘Diva’ shirts, two are for LAST YEAR’S Wrestlemania (urgh), one for this year’s Wrestlemania (which is actually ok), one is for Triple H and the other is for Undertaker. Because all the ladies love the Undertaker, right? NOOO! Good grief! If you think to go to the main men’s long-sleeve t-shirt section, you’ll find a new John Cena shirt for women, which also shows up in John’s space, but not if you go to the Women’s category first. WTF?
WWE, please get a grip. You can make the female fans happy AND increase the corporate bank balance with a little extra effort. I believe that’s called two birds with one stone. And if you want me to fly out to Stamford to give my approval on some new designs, just send me the airfare and I’ll hop over the pond at a moment’s notice. The ball is in your court.