I opened Twitter and suddenly found myself staring at Tom Brady’s face. This was not the first time this had happened to me, and none of those have been by choice. In this case, someone had retweeted @TomBrady, ostensibly to mock him. But as with many such Twitter dunks, the end result was me being left to consider the face of someone I don’t like. Ever since I watched the Eagles beat Tom Brady in Super Bowl 52, an absurd 41-33 game that featured the most yards in a game in NFL history, he is not quite the sports villain he once was to me. Mostly I don’t pay him any mind.
But I didn’t just see his face yesterday. Brady was talking, which I didn’t really care for. Even worse, he was talking about something that I do pay attention to: clothing.
My first thought was: Where is Tom Brady here? Does Tom Brady have a shockingly mod house somewhere? We don’t get to see much of it over his right shoulder, but I think it could be a pretty cool place. Last year he was staying in Jeter’s $29 million Tampa-area monstrosity. Did Brady develop better taste?
The bigger concern, though, was what Brady was saying. Tom Brady has developed a clothing line, which is called Brady Brand; he said that he and his team have been working on it for three years. “I’m proud to bring this to all you guys looking for clothing that performs across all of your daily active lives,” Brady says in the video. I decided to investigate.
For someone who has made hundreds of millions of dollars in his main gig, Brady has a lot of side hustles, from weird, inscrutable sports nutrition to weird, inscrutable NFTs. These tokens weren’t entirely fungible, but his new project is quite scrutable: Tom Brady is putting his name on clothing, and wants you to buy it and wear it. As far as athlete/famous person projects go, this is pretty standard.
The first article I read about Brady Brand was in CR Fashion Book, the publication of former Vogue Paris editor-in-chief Carine Roitfeld. The story, headlined “TOM BRADY IS LAUNCHING A CLOTHING LINE?”, initially seemed quite skeptical.
On September 28 of last year, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady announced the creation of his new apparel line dubbed “BRADY” on his Instagram. Needless to say, this shocked many. Brady, who is largely regarded as the greatest quarterback of all time, is certainly not the most active athlete in the fashion world. In fact, some would argue that his closest connection to the industry is his wife, the beloved Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bündchen.
Who are those who would argue his closest connection to the fashion industry isn’t Gisele? I couldn’t find any of them to interview, so I moved on. Brady launched Brady Brand with Jens Grede, who along with his wife Emma Grede has launched multiple Kardashian-associated brands. The company has NIL deals with nine college athletes, including Michigan QB Cade McNamara and Jackson State QB Shedeur Sanders, Deion’s kid. The brand’s creative director is Dao-Yi Chow, a co-designer for Public School, the once-hip brand that’s not quite as hip as it used to be. (I still like this red “YOUTH” t-shirt on their site currently; people didn’t like Public School’s DKNY collections but, based on my tastes, I loved stuff like shirts that said “DKNY-logo-new.png.”)
There appear to be three logos for Brady Brand. There’s a main logo, typeset in what looks like a slightly altered Helvetica Neue. I like this one. There’s an arc logo that looks like it was designed in Microsoft Word 97. There is an all-lowercase mark that does nothing for me at all. Some of the clothing is made with cotton subject to Better Cotton Initiative regulations, which is nice. Some of it isn’t.
It’s pretty standard gear. Hoodies that say “Brady” for $95. T-shirts that say “Brady” for $50. “Regenerate Ponte Football” t-shirts that say “Brady” for $140. (These are made from 74% viscose, 22% polyester, 4% elastane and can only be dry cleaned.) Hats that say “Brady,” sold in centimeter sizing for some reason, for $65. Beanies for $50. Tech fleece vests for $250. It’s higher-end athleisure, and on the expensive side. I’ve seen worse, but not really at this price.
I also learned that Pantone had collaborated with Brady to develop Brady Blue 112-22, a color meant “to inspire fearlessness, resilience, and confidence towards achieving peak performance.” Well, I’m convinced. And by the end of the article, the initially-skeptical CR Fashion Book seemed to be, too:
Although many were left wondering “why” after the initial announcement and some even criticized the QB for his new venture, there is no denying that an elevated sportswear line isn’t an entirely ludicrous idea for one of the most well-known and successful sports stars of all time. Created by one of the world’s greatest and most influential athletes, BRADY is sure to be a powerful force in the athleisure world from the get-go.
I ran into other coverage, too. Good Morning America basically did an ad disguised as a segment about the clothing line; Brady’s microphone was garbled and he was harder to understand than I am on a podcast. WFLA-TV in Tampa did a report about how expensive the clothing is. It basically quoted tweets about people complaining about the prices, which range from $20 for a pair of socks to $395 for a “technical” parka.
I am not above paying ridiculous amounts of money for clothing. I have 150+ pairs of sneakers, mostly from Nike. I also like Adidas and New Balance. I love the late Virgil Abloh’s work. I have a bunch of Supreme stuff. A Philadelphia brand, Lapstone and Hammer, has made some of my favorite hoodies and t-shirts. I really like this brand Noah, run by Supreme’s former design director. I recently got an Aimé Leon Dore hoodie on clearance and I will totally end up buying full-priced stuff later.
Point is, I am a mark for this kind of stuff. This is my wheelhouse! But I don’t think Brady Brand is for me. It’s not just that I’m not all that interested in Tom Brady. Normally I do not read the website Highsnobiety, as I have a rule against reading websites whose names I do not know how to pronounce, but I thought their story summed up the brand well.
If wearing a shirt printed with “BRADY” is all it takes to make someone feel good, more power to them. But to the rest of us, the collection feels remarkably inessential.
Just check out the debut BRADY collection and be underwhelmed by the insipid presentation of all-too-familiar clothing.
Tech-y T-shirts, polos, hoodies, and sweatpants cut from stretchy sweat-wicking fabrics are the kinda things we’ve already seen from BRADY’s competition, in both men’s and women’s sizing to boot (BRADY currently only offers menswear).
Lightweight water-repelling jacket? Old news. Zippered track jacket? Been there before. Tech-bro insulated vest? Done to death.
I run Defector’s merchandise store and design most of the merchandise for sale there. I am not much of a designer, though I think I’m learning. One thing I’ve found in the first year of doing this is that it’s best when the merchandise means something. We have sold a ton of Quit Your Job shirts, as we all quit our jobs and formed Defector. (I thought Supreme ripped it off, but it’s much more likely that they are referencing a Nike ad campaign from the 1990s.) We also sold a bunch of “Quit Like A Champion” shirts after Brian Kelly quit like a champion. We have sold a lot of shirts with a photo of David Roth on them. We have even sold a lot of shirts that say “DEFECTOR LAW,” as we have a bunch of subscribers who are also lawyers.
But it’s not just that we make shirts that fit our ethos (or have a photo of one of our writers on it). Defector is a website, but it is also a brand about something—all of our bullshit, none of theirs. We own this website. We could not half-ass this merch store. And so, since the start, all Defector merchandise is made in America and printed by a collectively-owned union print shop. (We work with a company called Fii Marketing.) Being a subscriber of Defector and buying a Defector t-shirt is not just supporting us and getting what I think is a pretty good quality t-shirt. But also, in a way that made my job easier, slapping the Defector logo onto a shirt was enough to get people to buy a shirt. You, bless your hearts, wanted to support us. You wanted to advertise our efforts. My comrades, and you subscribers, did the work for me: Lots of you have bought a shirt that says “DEFECTOR” on it and felt good.
But who wants to do that for Tom Brady? If I were a fan I would want to wear a jersey, not a weird tech shirt. After staring at it for a day, I really do like the color Brady Blue 112-22. But there’s nothing special about the line for me. The primary interesting thing about it, for me, is that special blue color. Everything else is available anywhere, at seemingly better prices and/or in better quality. If there is something special about it, they haven’t convinced me. The $75 “cool touch” short sleeve is sold out, though!
I do kind of like one of the t-shirts, though. Honestly, it gives me an idea.
Not bad, eh? We’d sell ours in a femme cut, too, unlike Brady. Something to think about.