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3 sports brands and the cities that shaped them

Lifestyle — Posted 18/06/14

From quaint French villages to the rugged mountains of New Zealand, we take a look at the hometowns that inspired three sports brands.

Le Coq Sportif – Romilly-sur-Seine, France

Way back when in 1882, a small hosiery store opened in Romilly-sur-Seine, a little village in a part of the Champagne region of France called the Aube. Opened by Emile Camuset, a Frenchman passionate about all things sport, the store soon began turning out jerseys in its workshop, sowing the seed for what would become the prestigious sports brand Le Coq Sportif.

While its sportswear wasn’t sold commercially until 1929, when its first catalogue and cycling jersey were released, its strong association with sport ran deep. Over the years Le Coq Sportif – named after the Gallic rooster, a national symbol of France – has been synonymous with key moments in sporting history, like these...

• In 1951 it became the official supplier of the cycling jerseys of the Tour de France.
• In 1960 the French Olympic team wore Le Coq Sportif at the Rome Games. 
• In 1986 Diego Maradona entered the history books with his goal against England in the Mexico World Cup wearing Le Coq Sportif.
• In 2001 Justine Henin played her first grand slam title at Wimbledon outfitted by the brand.

Returning full circle in 2010, the brand opened a new research and development centre in Le Coq Sportif’s original factory building in Romilly-sur-Seine. Celebrating its 130th anniversary in 2012, the brand also came back to its love of cycling with a sponsorship deal as official supplier of the leaders’ jerseys of the Tour de France.

Icebreaker – Wellington, New Zealand

In 1994 when Jeremy Moon, founder of outdoor brand Icebreaker, first felt a 100% merino thermal t-shirt, he knew he was on to something special. This magnificent fabric – now instantly associated with the landscape of New Zealand – cloaks its wearer in soft, natural fibres and feels very much of the wild wilderness of its origins.

After a lot of tinkering and with the help of some savvy investors, Moon was able to get his vision for Icebreaker off the ground and three years later, it turned its first profit. With its headquarters still based in its birthplace of Wellington, the brand nurtures its relationship with nature, acknowledging it as having gifted the very essence of its garments.

Echoing this connection throughout its products, Icebreaker clothing comes with a unique ‘baa code’, that lets wearers trace the origin of the merino fibres used in their garment. Journeying back to the source, you can learn the history of the sheep station it has come from, the living conditions of the animals and meet the owners who care for them. From Glen Orkney Station, a High Country farm with about 3,000 merinos to Stonehenge Station, where third-generation farmer Jim Hore works the land, it’s an inspiring reflection of the brand’s commitment to nature.

Nike – Oregon, USA

The Nike story goes way back to the world of college track and field and an inspirational coach named Bill Bowerman.

Today, Bowerman Drive in the brand’s hometown HQ of Beaverton, is named in honour of the Nike co-founder whose determination and creativity (and waffle irons) shaped the brand forever. Together with Phil Knight, one of Bowerman’s students at the University of Oregon, they started the company, originally called Blue Ribbon Sports, in January 1964.

The 8–building campus that has occupied Bowerman Drive since the ‘80s is a tribute to Nike’s nature-loving hometown state of Oregon and the brand’s collegiate origins. Surrounded by trees and man-made lakes and with its own running track and sports fields, the sprawling campus lives and breathes its sporting identity and is a place for employees to both work and play. Just do it!

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