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As Sports Dominates Fashion Conversations, Classic Football Shirts Secures Investment and Opens First U.S. Store

As Sports Dominates Fashion Conversations, Classic Football Shirts Secures Investment and Opens First U.S. Store


Doug Bierton knows just about everything there is to know about football jerseys. The founder of Classic Football Shirts, a nearly 20-year-old online marketplace for buying and selling vintage football shirts, could tell you the story behind almost every one of the vault's 6,500 most coveted jerseys of the company in Manchester, United Kingdom. At the mention of Samuel Etoo, for example, Bierton was able to remove one of the player's jerseys from the rack and describe where and when he got it in less than 30 seconds.

It's the authenticity that Bierton and his co-founder, Matt Dale, bring to the company that convinced The Chernin Group to invest nearly $40 million in classic football jerseys, the company announced Thursday. Greg Bettinelli, a partner at TCG, said he was looking to invest in another company that he believed was on the cusp of a breakthrough. Formerly a partner at Upfront Ventures, Bettinelli was an early investor in other resale startups, including GOAT and ThredUp.

We are interested in investing in sustainable consumer companies, Bettinelli said. We've spent a lot of time identifying opportunities at the intersection of sports and fashion, and soccer is the king of all sports.

Bierton said Classic Football Shirts has been profitable since its first year of operation and “every profit goes toward buying more jerseys.” Millions of football jerseys pass through the company's warehouses each year.. She now has more than a million followers on Instagram and has two stores, in London and Manchester. On Friday, the brand opened its newest location and first store in the United States, in SoHo, New York.

American customers currently account for just 15% of classic soccer jersey sales, but Bierton hopes a next wave of new soccer-related events in the United States will help generate interest. The World Cup, which will be jointly hosted by the United States, Canada and Mexico in 2026, is the most important.

As we move toward 2026, Americans are becoming more engaged in soccer, Bierton said. The celebrities are in it. Last year, we hosted successful pop-ups in New York, Los Angeles, and Miami, with lines up the block. There is a growing audience there for football jerseys.

The United States will host a wide variety of soccer tournaments over the next five years. In addition to the World Cup, the Copa America will be held in the United States later this year, followed by the FIFA Club World Cup in 2025, the Women's World Cup in 2027 and the Olympics in 2028. more than 2 billion dollars last year to secure streaming rights to U.S. Major League Soccer. MLS saw a significant increase in viewership when Lionel Messi, one of the most decorated players in the history of the sport, joined Inter Miami in the summer of 2023. More than 2 million people have subscribed to the MLS Season Pass to watch matches starting this year.

Classic Football Shirts has a different business model than its main competitors, including eBay and Grailed. He does not take commission on each sale. Instead, he buys the shirts directly from sellers and then resells them at a profitable markup.

Bierton said TCG's funding would primarily go toward retail expansion. Although no additional stores have been announced, Bierton said additional U.S. locations, in Miami or Los Angeles, are strong possibilities. Classic Football Shirts is also interested in collaborations. He currently has one with whiskey maker Jameson. It features silhouettes of famous football shirts with the Classic Football Shirts logo on the bottle. She also created marketing campaigns focused on swimsuits. She recently produced a series of videos in which David Beckham looks back on his career through his swimsuits.

The company gets most of its inventory from customers selling their old shirts, but it also sources directly from teams. She has also collaborated with teams like Parma to create new jerseys.

We'd like to do more of that, Bierton said of creating new styles. It would be great to work with a club and make them a jersey, have them wear it and hopefully win something.

As for expanding jerseys to other sports, Bierton and Bettinelli made it clear that the company is focused solely on soccer for now.

You can put any sport between “Classics” and “Shirts”. [in our name], but for now, football is where Doug and Matt's expertise lies, Bettinelli said. If the NBA called us tomorrow and told us they had a trunk full of rare old jerseys for sale, that would be an opportunity worth considering. But otherwise we focused on football.




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