Major League Baseball’s crusade to become the epitome of cool will be prominently showcased on Tuesday as its top players grace a red carpet show at Seattle’s renowned Pike Place Market ahead of the All-Star Game.
The event, aimed at engaging fans, serves as both a tribute to baseball’s iconic place in street style and an indication that MLB is actively asserting its presence in the world of fashion to attract new audiences and gain pop culture recognition.
Corbin Carroll, a 22-year-old Seattle native who made a name for himself as a breakout rookie for the Arizona Diamondbacks, expressed his excitement about being styled by MLB for the game. He acknowledged that the outfit chosen for him is not something he would typically choose for himself, but is nevertheless eager to show it off. Carroll described his everyday style as casual and athleisure, favoring plain and well-fitted clothing without too many logos.
MLB’s selection of Carroll as a style ambassador for the All-Star Red Carpet Show is not coincidental. The league has been grappling with the perception that baseball is a traditional game primarily appealing to older, white fans who meticulously keep score by hand in the stands. However, Noah Garden, MLB’s chief revenue officer, emphasized that this perception is inaccurate and that younger fans have always been a part of baseball’s fan base. Attracting younger fans is essential for the league’s growth and success, and MLB recognizes the importance of fashion in achieving this goal.
MLB has been striving to revitalize its image for years, while witnessing the NBA’s ascendancy in popular culture. The NBA has managed to become the top choice among Gen Z when it comes to sports institutions. Brandon Brown, a sports management professor at New York University, attributed the NBA’s appeal to its close connection with urban hip-hop culture and self-representation, elements that resonate strongly with this generation. MLB is searching for its own cross-cultural superstar who can captivate audiences with their fashion choices, much like Ken Griffey Jr., a former Seattle Mariners player who became an iconic figure in the ’90s with his distinctive backward baseball cap.
Baseball officials are now encouraging their players to shine off the field and embrace fashion, understanding that attracting loyal fans often goes beyond on-field performance. To this end, MLB has organized a much-anticipated red carpet show, designed to generate buzz on social media platforms. Noah Garden emphasized the significance of the event in terms of highlighting the best players and bringing them closer to the fans.
One of the league’s most fashion-forward players is Julio Rodríguez, a 22-year-old star for the Seattle Mariners. His red carpet outfit, handmade in Italy, pays homage to the city of Seattle. Working with a personal shopper, Rodríguez believes that his outfit will resonate well with the city’s identity, featuring elements such as trees, lakes, and the beautiful summer weather. The outfit is completed with a pair of exclusive Alexander McQueen sneakers, designed by Ethan Weisman, the founder of Pantheon Limited Custom Clothiers, who is known for creating eye-catching looks for athletes.
Contrary to popular belief, MLB’s interest in fashion is not solely driven by merchandising revenue. High-end collaborations with brands like Gucci are not meant to generate large sales volumes. Instead, they allow MLB to connect with specific segments of its fan base and establish associations with non-traditional brands. The limited availability of MLB’s collaboration with Gucci has even led players to contact the league’s front office in the hopes of securing a piece from the collection.
Baseball’s influence on fashion is not a recent development. The league’s partnership with various brands, including Ralph Lauren and Supreme, has been ongoing for years. The sale of replica jerseys has played a significant role in establishing baseball as a fashion inspiration. Moreover, the licensing of the New York Yankees logo has contributed to its global recognition. MLB’s fashion efforts are also integral to their international marketing strategy, with a focus on tapping into France’s fashion affinity to expand into the wider European market.
Erin Corrales-Diaz, a curator at the Toledo Museum of Art who authored a book about the baseball jersey and its influence on fashion, stressed that baseball’s connection with fashion has always existed, even if it has not been explicitly articulated. MLB’s fashion initiatives are driven by a desire to connect with fans on a deeper level, evoking nostalgia and promoting the league’s cultural capital.
Despite MLB’s efforts, some All-Star players admitted to being less knowledgeable about fashion. Corbin Carroll of the Diamondbacks, who is participating in his first red carpet event, expressed both excitement and nerves for the experience. Although he acknowledged that fashion is not his world, he is determined to enjoy the event.
In conclusion, MLB’s All-Star Red Carpet Show in Seattle provides an opportunity for the league to establish itself as a fashion-forward and culturally relevant institution. By embracing fashion, MLB aims to engage younger audiences, dispelling the notion that baseball is solely for older, white fans. The event showcases the personal style of players like Corbin Carroll and Julio Rodríguez, highlighting their unique fashion choices and demonstrating the league’s commitment to evolving with the times. MLB’s foray into fashion is not just about generating revenue; it seeks to connect with fans on a deeper level and solidify its position in popular culture, building an enduring legacy for the sport.