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Friday, September 21, 2018

West Coast’s return to royal blue and gold pays dividends on and off the field

The West Coast Eagles have won all three of their premierships wearing royal blue and gold — and a decision to return to those famous colours this season has reaped rewards off the field.
Combined with the team’s onfield success, West Coast’s first big rebranding in 18 years has been a boon for the club.
The rebranding, finalised last year, was headlined by a more realistic wedge-tailed eagle logo and a return to the inaugural jumper colours and overall design.
After several changes to the jumper in previous years — from varying shades of blue to the maligned ochre and tricolour designs — this year marked a return to heritage.
Club merchandise and licensing manager Jai-Tasma Ariti said fans had voted with their feet.
“Our logo is just sensational, so the application of that on to apparel and the colours as well — it just all looks phenomenal,” Ms Ariti said.
“There’s been new licensees added in, AFL-approved licensees, and their ranges are getting better every year ... so it’s definitely had a really good effect on sales.
“People have loved going back to the old colours. It’s just so much brighter and people get nostalgic because we win our premierships when we wear royal blue and gold.”
There was a steady flow of fans arriving at the team store at Subiaco Oval yesterday to stock up before tomorrow’s preliminary final. Gone are the days of a limited range of standard items — the store now sells everything from tutus to teddy bears.
Some of the clothing designs are vintage AFL fan gear, but others would not look out of place in a surf shop.
There are fleece bathrobes for adults, Minion T-shirts for children, sipper cups for babies and branded jumpers for dogs.
“I can’t keep up with the demand (for the dog jumpers),” Mr Ariti said.
“People want to deck out everything from their dogs to the house to the kids. They want everyone wearing West Coast.
“If I could have those dog jumpers year-round, it would be sensational. They want dog leads, collars, tags — everything.”
Fans can get a player’s name and number added to the back of their Eagles jumpers.
Ms Ariti said Nic Naitanui’s horror run of injuries had allowed Josh Kennedy to overtake him as the club’s most in-demand player.
Naitanui still held second position and would likely mount a serious challenge to Kennedy on his return from injury.
Caricatures of Naitanui and Kennedy also featured on separate lines of Nerd Player Socks.
Jeremy McGovern, Elliot Yeo, Willie Rioli and Liam Ryan were other popular jumper requests.
Ms Ariti said the team’s on-field exploits had also played a big role in boosting sales.
“The vibe around the club is just sensational. People want to be a part of it,” she said.