Tapout (clothing brand)
|Founder||Charles Lewis, Jr.
|Headquarters||Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.|
Authentic Brands Group (50%)
|Slogan||Find Your Inner Athlete|
Tapout is an American multinational corporation that designs and manufactures sports clothing, casual apparel and accessories headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland. It is one of the largest sportswear manufacturers in the United States, and one of the biggest in the world.
Tapout was registered in 1997 in San Bernardino County, California, by Charles Lewis, Jr., Dan Caldwell and Tim Katz. The company was founded after the trio began selling mixed martial arts clothing from the back of their Ford Mustang. Selling the merchandise during a period where MMA solely reached a niche market, Lewis, Caldwell and Katz branded the company around the sport, distributing the merchandise in cities where the sport was prevalent. However, following the growing popularity of mixed martial arts in the United States, and its later nationwide mainstream acceptance, the company became the largest MMA-related merchandise company in the world, accruing revenues of over $22.5 million.
In March 2015, the company was relaunched following its joint-ventured acquisition by entertainment company WWE, and development firm Authentic Brands Group. The venture saw the former MMA-related brand transformed into a more general "lifestyle fitness" one. The apparel, for men and women, is expected to be released in spring of 2016. Throughout 2015, WWE marketed the brand through various products, including beverages, supplements and gyms. WWE will hold a 50% stake in the brand, and so will advertise it regularly across all its platforms, hoping to give it one billion impressions a month, and attempting to rival sports-clothing giant, Under Armour. All employees and students of the WWE Performance Center will also wear the clothing.
Origins, initial success and sale
Tapout was founded by Charles Lewis, Jr. and Gary Fields in 1997. Fields was a contractor and investor and Lewis was a sheriff whom rented a room from Fields. The idea for the company occurred when both men noticed the lack of Mixed martial arts merchandise. Later that year, Lewis took on some new partners in Dan Caldwell and Tim Katz, whom would have been about 14 years old at that time. The majority of their initial sales were made at local fights in Las Vegas, where they sold mixed martial arts clothing from the back of their Ford Mustang. Lewis, Caldwell and Katz later began to distribute the merchandise in other cities where the then niche sport was prevalent. However, due to the growth of popularity and acceptance of mixed martial arts in the United States in the following years, the company would continue to grow. Due to this rapid rise, Tapout was able to officially sponsor various high-profile fighters, including Rashad Evans, Dan Hardy, Thiago Alves and Chael Sonnen. This rapid growth led to the company becoming the largest distributor of MMA merchandise in the world, recording revenue of over $22.5 million in 2007.
In late 2007, Lewis, created and produced the reality television series Tapout. The show followed him as he searched the United States for up-and-coming mixed martial arts fighters. It aired for two seasons on cable channel Versus, before being cancelled. It also gave birth to a short-lived radio show, and was the official apparel brand for The Ultimate Fighter during its run on Spike.
In early 2009, Charles Lewis Jr. died in a high-speed car crash in Newport Beach, California. Lewis' Ferrari 360 Challenge Stradale collided with an unidentified 1977 Porsche before hitting a light pole. It is also presumed that the two vehicles were traveling alongside one another at high speed, with Lewis being declared dead at the scene. Lacy Lynn White, a twenty-three-year-old female occupant of Lewis' Ferrari, was ejected from the vehicle and was taken to a hospital, suffering a fractured elbow and lacerations. The driver of the Porsche was arrested for "alcohol-related gross vehicular manslaughter".
As a tribute to his contributions to UFC, Lewis was posthumously inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame at the UFC 100 Fan Expo, as well as his name being made a permanent feature on the inside of the door to the Octagon. Katz and Caldwell, as well as the fans in attendance, held a minute's silence for Lewis. Following his death, the remaining founders decided to sell Tapout, which was bought by Authentic Brands Group in 2010.
Relaunch with ABG, in conjunction with WWE
Following ABG's absorption of Tapout, the firm looked to re-brand the company. The firm reached out to wrestling entertainment company WWE, in attempts to form a working relationship. WWE, who deal primarily in professional wrestling, came to an agreement with ABG in March 2015 to relaunch Tapout as a joint-venture.
The venture saw the former MMA-related brand transformed into more general "lifestyle fitness" apparel and is expected to be released in spring of 2016. WWE marketed the brand through various products, including beverages, supplements and gyms with the company hoping to achieve one billion impressions a month in order to build the brand.
- "Tapout Founder Killed in SoCal Ferrari Crash". Fox News. 2009-03-12. Retrieved 2013-08-24.
- "Q&A with 'Mask' from Tapout". Sports Illustrated. CNN. 2008-07-30. Retrieved 2009-03-12.
- "WWE Relaunching Prominent MMA Brand Tapout as 'Lifestyle Fitness Brand'". Sherdog.
- Marc Graser. "WWE to Relaunch Tapout Clothing Brand in New Joint Venture". Variety.