A Little Pizzazz on the Pickleball Court

Pickleball, still relatively new on the scene as a mainstream participant sport, continues to grow in popularity with players of all ages. As a result, properties of nearly every type have lent their names, logos, and other assets to pickleball apparel, accessories, footwear, and especially paddles and paddle covers over the past few years. Recently, examples from the worlds of art, fashion, and lifestyle have seen their presence grow, especially on paddles, with interior designers particularly active in the space.

Not only do these sorts of properties lend brand awareness to the many paddle manufacturers trying to differentiate themselves from the competition, but they offer a distinctive and attractive look-and-feel that helps players identify their paddles while adding another layer of enjoyment to their participation in the sport. For the licensors, the paddles tie their IP to a trending topic and get their brands into nontraditional retail channels for this type of property, such as Dick’s Sporting Goods, among other benefits.

Some of the pickleball specialists that have recently added design, art, or lifestyle properties to their portfolios, most often in the form of limited editions, include:

  • Coastal Pickle, which partnered with interior design company Home in Harmony in April 2024 and lifestyle brand and design studio Dabney Lee in February 2024. It also works with island lifestyle label Tommy Bahama, surface design label Lilibridge, and Barrington Gifts, a maker of personalized and handcrafted totes, bags, and leather goods.
  • Joola, which paired in February 2024 with Brazilian pop and graffiti artist Romero Britto. The company’s other collaborations are mostly focused on pro pickleball player-endorsed paddles.
  • Tangerine, which signed abstract fine artist and surface designer Erin Donahue Tice in November 2023. It is also active in the fashion and accessories space, working on collections with men’s shirt brand Criquet, women’s footwear label Sam Edelman, and sunglasses brand Knockaround, although these partnerships rely more on the strength of the brand name than the labels’ visual appeal.
  • Recess, which added interior designer India Hicks and photographer Gray Malin to its roster in May and June 2023, respectively. Other design and lifestyle properties in the Recess portfolio have included fashion label Lilly Pulitzer and home goods retailer Anthropologie.

Artists, designers, and lifestyle labels get their designs onto the pickleball court in a variety of ways, including through short-term collaborations, print-on-demand platforms, promotional products, and custom manufacturing, as well as, occasionally, traditional longer-term licensing deals. This category tends to represent a fairly small opportunity for most property owners, unless their deals extend to fashion and other pickleball goods in addition to paddles. But it is a high-profile sector these days and helps raise awareness for their brands, as well as potentially bringing in new customers. And several of these examples have been successful enough financially to result in additional seasonal collections beyond the initial drop.

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