Sportswear is an industry that is rapidly growing, with new ways of making clothes transforming this sector into one which is immensely popular across a host of ages. Establishing a business here is by no means easy, but that’s precisely what Adam Franks of Legacy Sportswear has managed. Now named Most Influential Sportswear CEO 2023 – UK, we thought it time to catch up with Adam and uncover some of the secrets of his success.
When looking at the world of clothing, it’s clear that sportswear has taken on new importance over the last few years. Customers are looking for products that make them look good, feel comfortable and offer a practicality that they often struggle to find from other manufacturers. Sportswear also encompasses celebrity culture, serving customers who want to match icons of the sector. The success of Legacy Sportswear comes from serving both of these needs.
Through Legacy, which sells gym and lifestyle wear and The Locker Room, which allows professional sports clubs and fans to purchase team wear, custom-made jerseys, and official merchandise, Adams Franks has been able to build the team at Legacy Sportswear to new heights of success. This thriving family business achieves because it maintains a closeness at all times that ensures constant support throughout the development of any project.
Adam Franks was a professional sportsman, focused on the world of ice hockey. “I’ve had the opportunity to share the locker room with some incredible leaders on and off the ice, including coaches, captains, and players,” he says with a smile. The discipline of working in this environment with a strong team proved to be the perfect training ground for Adam’s future entrepreneurial success. Not content with playing to the best of his ability, he watched those who led and began to unpick what set them apart.
This part of Adam’s career saw him and his team go on to win the league, playoffs, and playoff finals, but key to this success was not just raw talent. “Effective, clear communication was essential,” Adam explains. “I learned early on that being an individual doesn’t win you games and that everyone has a role to play in creating something bigger, and when everyone plays their part, good things happen.”
The founding of Legacy built on this incredible success, with Adam applying what he had seen to the business of sportswear. “My role as CEO at Legacy consists primarily of working with professional clubs to bring them on board, as well as collaborating with Legacy and working very closely with the development team to help improve the fabrics designs we work with,” Adam tells us. “The majority of the team is made up of athletes or ex-athletes.” Such awareness of the sector has given Adam and his team an incredible boost when compared to the competition. Not only do they know the market, but they know how rapidly it can change over time.
Adam has worked hard to ensure that every member of the team is empowered to make decisions and knows that they have the support of their peers. “Installing that team mentality early on in the business was critical to our early growth and success because it laid the groundwork for how Legacy would grow and what type of clients and employees we would attract,” he explains. For Adam, Legacy is more than just a business that creates sportswear. “I knew that when I started Legacy I wanted it to mean something to our community and to the staff that work there because I wanted them to represent, shop, and most importantly be proud of Legacy.”
The idea of community is one which seeps into every part of the business model that Adam has created. The firm was created during the 2012 Olympic Games, hosted in London. “I had a few friends representing Team GB, so we had them try and test our kit and provide honest feedback,” he tells us. “Each time we made the changes they requested until they were happy, and we knew if professional athletes were happy, our kit would be perfect for our store!” Such care to ensure that those who perform at the highest level of the sporting hierarchy has been key to securing success for the Legacy Sportswear team.
While making sportswear that even the best athletes can work with is important, so too is the need to keep an eye on the future. “We have invested heavily in working with sustainable fabrics for the brand,” Adam tells us, “creating collections that include leggings and bras made from bamboo, hoodies made from recycled polyester and organic cotton. We’ve also begun to produce more items in the UK to reduce our carbon footprint.”
Since opening the doors of Legacy Sportswear, Adam has committed to understanding the basics of each part of his business as far as possible. “To be a good CEO, I believe you should spend at least 3 months in every area of the business, including web development, dispatch, clothing development, creative, and photography to help understand how it works, what issues it faces, and how we can solve them faster,” he tells us. This depth of understanding has ensured that Legacy Sportswear can be as reactive as it needs to be in a challenging market.
The market for sportswear is one which you simultaneously have to seek out, and be sought for. Sports fans can find Legacy Sportswear through their e-commerce, with social media driving a great deal of traffic. Team wear, however, is typically sold through word-of-mouth and clubs seeing our brand on professional sports teams on television as well as at most ice rinks when we have pop-ups. Because Adam understands every part of how the business works, he can adapt to suit the individual markets that he is serving.
One of the challenges that Adam has managed to overcome over the last couple of years has been clothing production oversees. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the factory the team used closed. Fortunately, there was plenty of stock in storage but it did lead to a major change for the business. “Legacy Sportswear was re-invented from top to bottom,” Adam explains. “We looked at suppliers, production, and how we could cut costs. I decided we had no choice but to move to on-site production. This proved to be very beneficial for Legacy because it kept costs down and our work almost tripled as the time frame shrank.”
Because so much is now done in house, it’s easy for the team at Legacy Sportswear to match up precisely to what their clients expect. “Legacy’s in-house design team will create the collection using our cuts, the club’s colours, and heritage to create a team wear collection to be proud of,” Adam tells us. “Our team will then create an e-commerce store for the club, which is housed on our team wear section of our Legacy webpage, so customers and fans can order clothing quickly and easily from the club, and we will provide a quick and easy service for their fans using our print on demand methods.” Aiming items directly at a fanbase is what Legacy Sportswear excels at, primarily because each member of the team comes from a sporting background themselves.
Looking ahead, Adam plans to take significant steps to become a one-stop shop for all of the team’s needs, including those of its players, coaches, and fans. “The most exciting part will be phase three of this plan,” Adam says, “where kit designer teams will be able to login and design their own kits online, with colours, and personalise them with numbers and names.” Until then, he and the Legacy Sportswear team will continue to develop new products such as the recently released high-quality fabric for ice hockey jerseys and socks, which is now in production. The team have also created a new website for the brand and an easier user experience journey so that ordering for clubs, teams, and the brand is super speedy and effective.
Growth is no easy achievement, but Adam has proven determined to make it a reality. We celebrate his tremendous success and look forward to what Legacy Sportswear manages to achieve in the weeks and months yet to come.
In the meantime, the company will be bringing excitement to Camberley town centre from Monday 15th May after winning the first four-month spot at The Pop-Up Club located on 27 Obelisk Way.
“We’re excited to bring our brand values to life with the launch of our opportunity in The Pop-Up Club,” Adam comments. “We believe that our values of quality, sustainability, and customer service are what sets us apart from our competitors. We’re looking forward to showcasing our products and expertise to the people of Camberley.”