The esports apparel market: Unmet needs and future opportunities

The esports apparel market: Unmet needs and future opportunities

By Mariam Jomha

Despite the immense influx of capital into the esports industry, professional esports athletes are currently underserved in terms of their overall health and well-being, cutting their gaming lifespans tragically short. A massive opportunity exists for brands, manufacturers, and suppliers to provide products that cater to this booming market. A large segment of these prospects can be found in the esports apparel market.

A recent PreScouter report identified six golden opportunities for the sportswear, apparel, and tech markets to address the performance and health needs of esports athletes. Functional gaming clothing, in particular, is the largest emerging market whose potential is currently untapped.

What’s driving the need for specialized esports apparel?

The esports industry was set to generate more revenue than both the UEFA Champions League and Formula 1 by 2022. Participation and interest in gaming have recently been further bolstered due to the pandemic. With this massive growth in popularity, the health and well-being of esport athletes are becoming more and more of a concern.

A 2018 research paper surveyed 65 collegiate esport players. Their results showed that players practiced between 3 and 10 hours per day. The most frequently reported complaint was eye fatigue (56%), followed by neck and back pain (42%). The athletes also reported wrist pain (36%) and hand pain (32%). Forty percent reported not participating in any form of physical exercise. Among the players surveyed, only 2% had sought medical attention. 

“The integration of functionalized apparel that addresses the health and performance needs of esports athletes is in its nascent stages,” says PreScouter Technical Director Daniel Morales. “Companies that make the effort to truly understand and cater to the functional needs of esports athletics, including the coaches, players, and fans, have a huge opportunity to become a megabrand in a burgeoning industry,” Morales adds.

What opportunities exist for the sportswear, apparel, and tech markets?

The following are six golden “white space” opportunities for sportswear, apparel, and tech brands. 

  1. Esports competitive apparel: Stars and fans can play both competitively and casually. There’s a huge opportunity for crossover between professional esports apparel and adoption by casual gamers of their favorite athlete’s jersey. 
  2. Wearable techs: Opportunities for wearables include, in addition, the fact that gaming culture embraces tech and wearables more than traditional athletics due to less movement and sweating, as well as the overlap with cosplay. 
  3. Electronic clothing: Electronic clothing developments such as e-skin may be better poised for adoption in the esports apparel market compared to traditional athletics due to less sweat generation and full-range movement.
  4. In-game purchases: Opportunities exist for integrating the apparel created in the real world as a digital format for in-game purchases. 
  5. Nonbinary clothing: Nonbinary clothing may be adopted faster in the esports market since video game competitions neutralize the playing field more so than in traditional athletics. There is also a considerable gap in the esports apparel market that effectively targets and includes women in a way that is meaningful. No one is doing this right now. 
  6. Adaptive apparel: Opportunities for integrating performance tech into adaptive apparel may be adopted faster in the esports market, as well. The general push for inclusivity in gaming (among minorities, women, and the LGBTQ+ community) will drive the utilization of adaptive apparel. 

How can brands address future needs?

The potential overlap between real-world and in-game/virtual esports apparel can provide yet another avenue for brand exposure. Luxury brands such as Moschino, Givenchy, Valentino, and Marc Jacobs are already partnering with developers to create virtual items that fans can collect or purchase in-game. According to Jens Hilgers, one of the founders of ESL, companies should be thinking “digital first.” “How do you give a garment functionality in both the real and virtual worlds?” he asks, adding, “And how do you connect those worlds through clothing?”

  • Much like skateboarding was, gaming is a subculture that is still misunderstood by big brands.
  • Electronic clothing developments such as e-skin may be better poised for adoption in the esports apparel market compared to traditional athletics due to less sweat generation and full-range movement.
  • The gaming culture embraces tech and wearables more than traditional athletics due to the overlap with cosplay.
  • Opportunities abound for integrating the apparel created in the real world as a digital format for in-game purchases.

What opportunities exist in the esports apparel market?


Currently, most esports clothing companies are focused on customized branding as opposed to addressing the health and performance needs of esports athletes. Aside from branding, clothing is focused on comfort, moisture-wicking, and movement. 

In 2020, Champion debuted a gamer hoodie (their first patent-pending design in 50 years). The sleeves have a unique rib cut to help prevent them from sliding when gaming and Velcro patches on the chest and left shoulder that can be removed and replaced with esports sponsor logos or team patches. Other key players include Ateyo, Aporia, EsportsGear, and Raven.

Opportunity: There is a need for clothing companies to provide functional clothing that addresses the specific needs of esports athletes. Two clothing technologies to consider for the future of esports apparel include:

  1. Xenoma: Xenoma is a smart apparel company developing electronic skins (e-skins). The potential functionality for esports athletes lies in providing full body biometric tracking to improve gameplay and maintain a healthy gaming career.
  2. Ghost Flower: Ghost Flower is an activewear brand that develops acupressure clothing. Acupressure-based compression garments could be leveraged to reduce headaches and muscle knotting and encourage blood flow during seated gameplay.


PreScouter was able to identify only two examples of footwear specifically marketed to the esport community. Both offerings emphasize comfort and breathability but fail to address the benefits that could be imparted by providing or encouraging consistent foot motion (by a moving platform under the gamer, for example) during gaming. 

Companies currently providing footwear specifically designed for gamers include Puma, whose gaming footwear was designed to provide comfort, support, and grip to help gamers adapt to different gaming modes, and K-Swiss, a California-based company specializing in tennis court shoes that makes an esports performance sneaker offering comfort, versatility, and temperature control.

Opportunity: Although esport regulations may restrict athletes’ access to performance-enhancing products such as these during competition, integrating the use of these products during training could be a total game-changer in terms of the competitive edge during tournaments and an overall increase of gaming lifespan.

There is great potential to implement preventative strategies with footwear to support the physical functioning of esports athletes and counter the necessary sedentary positioning required to engage in their sport. The two examples are:

  1. PowerLegs: PowerLegs by PowerFit Vibration And Acupressure System provides massage, stretch, active range of motion, and strengthening opportunities to promote circulation in the lower extremities.  These dynamic surfaces could be sold with shoes.
  2. Hammacher Schlemmer: The catalog company Hammacher Schlemmer offers circulation-improving leg wraps that facilitate circulation via alternating air compression and deflating to reduce swelling in the legs while seated. This technology could be used to develop an electronic compression shoe for athletes who are sitting for long periods of time at the computer.


To date, PreScouter only identified one example of a wearable marketed specifically for esports athletes. In the case of wearables, various technologies already exist that are marketed and utilized for different purposes, such as physical rehabilitation and general health and wellness. There is a huge opportunity to market such devices to the gaming community, which is prone to adopting novel technologies. 

Garmin makes an esports smartwatch designed to track and livestream biometric data via a dedicated esports activity function that analyzes heart rate and stress levels during matches, as well as spots long-term trends.

TENZR’s intelligent wearable for physical therapy transforms rehab exercises into precise gameplay to facilitate and track performance in active range of motion rehabilitation programs.

Opportunity: Opportunities exist for marketing wearable devices with the capability of capturing and utilizing relevant data to provide physical cues to esports athletes to promote health and well-being and enhance physical functioning.

Products that help keep players on track and improve their performance are crucial for professionals and recreational players. Discreet, unobstructive items that don’t complicate the user experience are especially appealing.

  1. Biofeedback Labs: Biofeedback Labs offers a biofeedback system for training concentration and focus. A biofeedback device for the ear could provide coaches with a dashboard to track performance metrics with biometrics from their players. Coaches will be able to monitor all team members’ stress response indicators at a glance. This can provide customized cues to recharge for better health and improve mood to enhance performance during play via emotional regulation, optimize energy use, and facilitate concentration via instant stress metrics to train players to relax.
  2. Hooke Lav: Hooke is developing a wireless wearable microphone designed for professionals and gamers alike to enable them to broadcast or record high-quality audio via a low-profile device. Communication among teammates during competitions or recordings to review communication post-events can be made seamless.
A more in-depth coverage of this topic is available in our Intelligence Brief: White space opportunities in esports apparel

If you have any questions or would like to know if we can help your business with its innovation challenges, please contact us here or email us at

Never miss an insight

Get insights delivered right to your inbox

More of Our Insights & Work

Never miss an insight

Get insights delivered right to your inbox

You have successfully subscribed to our newsletter.

Too many subscribe attempts for this email address.