The Los Angeles Kings have turned to a local street artist for a power play with their team gear.
The hockey team this month debuted a merchandise line created by tattoo and graffiti artist Mark Machado, better known as Mister Cartoon, aimed at drawing a younger audience.
Machado, who has literally left his mark on Kobe Bryant, Eminem and Justin Timberlake, has created art for Nike and other brands, but this is his first work for a sports team.
“He appeals to a younger demographic such as skaters, hip-hop fans and the trendsetter crowd,” said Jonathan Lowe, vice president of marketing for AEG Sports, which owns the Kings. “There is an inherent risk allowing someone to have artistic freedom with a 45-year-old brand, but that creativity is what we wanted to tap.”
In addition to a helmet he designed for Kings goalie Jonathan Quick to wear in a game later this season, Machado came up with a line of merchandise that includes hats, T-shirts and hoodies. Prices range from about $30 to $40 for hats and $95 for hoodies, comparable with other higher-end Kings gear. The apparel is available at the Team LA store at Staples Center and through the team’s website. The Kings are donating the team’s portion of the proceeds to the non-profit Para Los Niños.
The deal with Machado has been in the making a long time. Lowe and the Kings originally approached him three years ago to design the line, but the process took longer than expected and was further delayed last year when the National Hockey League and its players got in a labor dispute, shortening the season to 48 games from 82.
Lowe said a deal like this wouldn’t have come together five or six years ago, when the team was struggling to sell tickets, but sales have increased since the team won the Stanley Cup in 2012.
“Now that we’re selling out the building every night, we are able to focus on new opportunities to grow the brand,” he said.
– David Nusbaum
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