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The evolution of Sporty & Rich, the brand by Emily Oberg

From Instagram moodboard and magazine to a leading brand in sportswear

The evolution of Sporty & Rich, the brand by Emily Oberg From Instagram moodboard and magazine to a leading brand in sportswear

The luxury wear and sportswear of the 80s and 90s, Lady Diana in a sports outfit.
This is the mood of Sporty & Rich, the Instagram page founded by Emily Oberg that became first a magazine and today a brand. We had already told you about Emily, about her sneaker collection about her passion for vintage and retro aesthetics, from the beginning of her career to the first hoodies and t-shirts with logo.

Sporty & Rich was born as an Instagram moodboard page curated by Emily herself, creating her own aesthetic: a look at the past, a little nostalgic, made of old car commercials, analogue photos, landscapes and breathtaking 70s-style houses. 

From the Instagram moodboard, Sporty & Rich evokes the imagination of the American girl next door, divided between cheerleading and biology lessons. The brand takes up the trend of American Apparel aesthetics in an unprecedented chic version and certainly more bon ton than the original: the Sporty & Rich girl is the first in the class, nothing to do with her forgotten companions Brandy Melville and Subdued.

"Be nice, drink water, be good to the planet, take care of yourself and live a life of pleasure." - is the motto.

In just five years a strong visual identity brand took shape thanks to the background of the Instagram page which, before becoming a brand, passed through the print media. In fact, in May 2016, the issue n°1 of Sporty & Rich was published, a physical magazine that had the same images that found new life in digital: a choice that goes against the wave but is consistent with the ideals of the brand.

The goal was to transform Sporty & Rich into a fashion brand and also in this case Emily Oberg hit the mark, starting with t-shirts and hoodies with embroidered logo and coming to real collections available at some of the largest retailers, like LuisaViaRomaSOTF, END and Selfridges. Sporty & Rich is the perfect uniform for every day life, basic items that blend perfectly with the healthy lifestyle that the brand promotes.

It was the ecstatic and the authority that Emily built around her that made the brand popular over the years, and it was the values that made it credible.
Among the sections of the Sporty & Rich website we find the word sustainability.
Starting with the production and organization of the Los Angeles-based factory, the website offers a detailed look at how and what the brand does to reduce waste and optimize the quality of its workers, creating a good quality product.

A further step in this direction came last January when Emily Oberg announced the launch of Sporty & Rich Wellness Club. The new Instagram profile (and also section of the website) is dedicated to everything that is healthy: from beauty products to workout routines to playlists for workout, to tips for mental well-being.
The ultimate goal of Sporty & Rich has in fact always been to be something more than a simple clothing brand or a moodboard on Instagram.
The advice from Oberg and her team and the idea of Sporty & Rich Wellness Club came at a particular time when everyone needed it most. But not only. Even the brand's comfortable clothing became the essentials for a perfect quarantine Instagram look.

It is no coincidence that during the pandemic, according to a report by the Business of Fashion, the number of orders on Sporty & Rich grew exponentially putting a strain on the brand's organizational assets.

Many customers flooded the brand's social accounts with complaints about shipping delays and quality issues. Even Emily Oberg herself became a target, following the appearance of her undiplomatic answers given to some customers.

As if that weren't enough, further criticism was leveled under a controversial post published on the Sporty & Rich Wellness Club profile. The post was a graphic that compared the prices of very unhealthy food like a Happy Meal, candies and pizza with those of healthy food, fruit and vegetables, with an invitation to make the right choice and eat healthy. All reiterated in the personal stories of Oberg where she wrote that having a healthy lifestyle is not only for the privileged.
The message arrived in the midst of a global pandemic, which caused substantial increases in unemployment rates, was not well received by followers, who accused Oberg of being unaware of the real problem and the economic impossibility for many people to follow a healthy diet.

In an email to customers, the founder said: “We started as a small one-man business and we have grown in a way we could never have foreseen. During this process, we made huge mistakes and I am really sorry about this."

The episode highlights how difficult it is now in times of social media, but above all of Coronavirus, to manage and maintain a brand. Although Sporty & Rich's goals and ideals are absolutely in line with the direction of the market, this does not seem to be enough.

The idea that a brand can only leverage aesthetics continues year after year to crumble and to demonstrate that perhaps not even one more tree in Madagascar following an online order can balance an inconsistent Customer Relationship Management.