Women's apparel sales grow

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One of the newer NFL women's apparel lines: "Junk Food Vintage NFL, curated by Kristin Cavallari."

From colleges to the pros, female sports fans are becoming a bigger part of the marketing landscape, especially when it comes to apparel.

Check out these numbers:

• Collegiate Licensing Company, who handles licensing for nearly 200 colleges, universities, bowl games, athletic conferences and the NCAA, says women’s apparel under its brands has increased 148 percent over the past five years. And while men’s apparel has generated more revenue over that same span ($1.2 billion), the CLC says growth in the women’s marketplace has far outpaced the men’s, and retail sales for women’s apparel licensed by CLC accounted for an estimated $350 million in 2012.

• A 2011-2013 ESPN Sports Poll found college football ranked second only to the NFL among female fans, with 16 percent of women identifying themselves as an “avid fan” of college football.

“This is where our growth is, and we need to target it,” said Shane Hinckley, assistant vice president of business development at Texas A&M. “Eighty percent of sporting apparel -- college or not -- is purchased by women, but only 18 percent of that is for women.”

Part of the problem has been the styles and silhouettes offered for women; in the past, they only targeted a younger demographic. “It’s easy to make a missy-cut jersey for an 18-year-old freshman,” said Hinckley, “but what do women want?”

Hinckley and his colleagues at schools around the country recognized a void in the industry for women who were out of college, he says he’s engaged with CLC on a project to do surveys on women’s apparel through their alumni group.

“We’re going to try to target where they’re shopping for apparel, what brands they have affinity with, and what types of fashion trends they are interested in,” said Hinckley. “We’re hoping that data can come back and help us.”

• The NFL has seen double-digit growth in women’s apparel for four consecutive years and says it has also added 30 to 35-percent more items to meet the increasing demand.

The number has been boosted by the support from women with familial ties to the league who have served as ambassadors for the league’s line, and even created lines of their own. Suzanne Johnson, wife of New York Jets owner Woody Johnson, has been involved with the NFL’s line since its inception and also showed support for a new NFL line from Junk Food Tees (created through a partnership involving Kristin Cavallari, wife of Bears quarterback Jay Cutler), which debuted at New York Fashion Week.

Charlotte Jones Anderson, daughter of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, also teamed up with design firm Peace Love World to create a new Cowboys-themed line called “I am Game,” which debuted this past weekend.

• Major League Baseball says its online store has seen 21-percent growth in women’s apparel sales since last year.

• Sales have increased for the NHL, which reports “double-digit growth” in each of the past five seasons.

• The NBA has seen similar growth, with women’s products selling at a rate of 25 percent more than last year on NBAStore.com and the NBA Store in Manhattan. The league says it has the broadest assortment of women’s product in its history, including luxury heels, cover-ups and bathing suits.