Welcome to the first of our new Kings of the Merch series, in which we’ll be exploring, via a series of interviews with prominent figures and teams, the current landscape and opportunity around esports merchandise, with a particular focus on apparel. First up is Nate Eckman Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer of ULT and Jamie Daquino, President of the team eUnited. Astro recently established a partnership with eUnited and ULT. Aron Drayer, VP of Marketing at Astro, said: “After more than ten years of working with esports teams, we know a world class org when we see one. eUnited was an obvious partnership for ASTRO because the eUnited brand is closely aligned with ours. We felt the same way when we worked with ULT on their launch party at E3 2 years ago. Seeing ULT and eUnited come together makes perfect sense. I expect them to reset people’s expectations for esports apparel, just like ASTRO did with esports headsets 10 years ago.”Nate Eckman, ULTEsports Insider: Tell us about what you’re building at Ultimate Media Ventures (ULTesports.com). Nate: We are an esports innovation company focused on ULT esports products and studio content. We have a 22,000 square foot studio by the beach in SoCal where we design ULT lifestyle apparel and create content. We believe in adding value to our competitive gaming community through elevating design and making entertaining lifestyle content.ESI: How did the partnership with eUnited come to be?Nate: Of all the team organisations and owners across the planet that we’ve met, eUnited share such a close philosophical vision, undeniable passion, work ethic, dedication to innovation, and core values. eUnited enables ULT to pursue our first mover design approach and we support eUnited as they pursue being a winning organisation, pioneering new territory.“Our lifestyle line for eUnited with ULT showcases the complete “Player Journey””Jamie: We recognised early on that ULT was on the cutting edge of esports apparel design. Nate and the ULT team had us at the first presentation of their vision for eUnited. Our players are thrilled to rep the ULT line and the fan response has already been tremendous.ESI: Part of your business model is growing the lifestyle brand arm with various apparel options…what is selling particularly well? Moreover, are there certain designers you’d like to work with and are there any collaborations on the agenda? Nate: The eUnited technical pro jersey collection showcases completely original cut and sew patterns, beautiful French terry fabric with luxurious modern mesh overlays, modern designed woven labels and hand stitched detail work.Our lifestyle line for eUnited with ULT showcases the complete “Player Journey” with styles for the team house to traveling the world, meeting fans and media, and hitting the stage. We love collaborating with eUnited and have a lot of inbound requests to do premium brand category collaborations which we will be highly selective about and share in upcoming updates. In short, good design sells well.ESI: In your view, what are the best channels to engage fans and potential customers with apparel and merch in esports? In what ways are you working with brand ambassadors?Nate: Our pro players that we sponsor are really such a huge way we reach and connect with the core community. Arming the eUnited organisation with great content and quality wearable goods makes that message sincerely powerful.“The stale drab bicycle jersey designs will soon be extinct when fans see what ULT has planned for esports fans across the globe”Jamie: When your designs are the hottest thing out there, it’s easy to reach the fan base. The eUnited ULT jersey designs and Player Journey concept are going to take player apparel to new levels in esports. The stale drab bicycle jersey designs will soon be extinct when fans see what ULT has planned for esports fans across the globe. It’s truly an exciting time for esports merchandising thanks to ULT. Our pro players can’t wait to get their hands on the new gear!ESI: Do you think esports teams are better placed than any other type of sports team to capitalise on generating income and building a brand via merchandise? Nate: Esports exists within a cultural shift where our community is hyper connected and thriving in the digital space all the time. Esports can transcend barriers and regions rapidly to scale quickly. Traditional sports are bound by institutions and mainstream perception which limit their effectiveness to adapt to a new consumer mentality. ESI: What’s on the agenda for the next 12 months at ULT?Nate: We’ve a Tier 1 streetwear show as a step up from our Agenda show ULT experience which featured eUnited pro LoL players and season 2 of our lifestyle line. There will be more technical products across all of eUnited’s pro teams to show off original and unique styles. We’ll have complete lifestyle line and brand collaborations designed with eUnited. There’ll be more awesome content with the players for new distribution platforms. In addition we’ll introduce new revenue models and strategic means for scalability. In essence, the next 12 months are all about growing our ULT brand and continuing to support amazing partners like eUnited! If you fancy being one of the first to wear the new line, you can check it out in full here.
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LeMARS — A farm organization based in North Dakota is offering help to the many farmers and ranchers who were hit by the recent flooding. Farm Rescue plans to activate “Operation Hay Lift” for the second time — the first time was during a drought.Farm Rescue is a non-profit organization that provides planting, haying, harvesting and livestock feeding assistance free of charge to farm and ranch families who have experienced a major illness, injury or natural disaster. Communications Director Dan Erdmann says farmers and ranchers have their cattle herds stranded because of the flooding.“We’re still feeling things out, and seeing what the reaction is going to be and what the need is going to be. We’re going to be hauling hay down to those ranchers, so, the big thing right now is we’re looking for hay donations to be able to haul that down to the ranchers affected by the…by the flood waters,” Erdmann says.The organization is seeking volunteers with a commercial drivers license to haul the hay.“We’re hoping to have a couple of trucks on the road in the coming weeks here to basically to haul continuously. That need is there, and it is a very immediate need. And also we’re looking for monetary donations to help support that cause.” Erdmann saysDan ErdmannFarm Rescue hopes to establish several drop off locations. Applications are now being accepted from farmers and ranchers in need of the donated hay. Erdmann says farmers and ranchers or livestock yards wanting to donate hay should contact Farm Rescue.“If you’re looking to join on as a volunteer, provide donations, or actually apply for assistance, you can go to our website,” he says. “Everything you need is right there. But, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to give us a call.”The organization’s phone number is 701- 252-2017.Farm Rescue’s first hay lift came in 2017 for farmers and ranchers in South Dakota and North Dakota suffering from a drought. Erdmann says the organization had a successful event, hauling 275 semi trailer loads of hay to more than 154 farmers and ranchers.