conversation stuff. Was like that, is like that, stays like that. The St. Pauli jersey, which is made in-house, has caused a stir twice recently: First, with the premiere of the new kit in the last home game of the season. The third edition – a hit right away. It was all the more surprising that a few days later President Oke Göttlich seemed to question the DiiY project. How is the ambitious outfitter project really doing? How does the club plan? MOPO spoke to Bernd von Geldern, Business Manager, about the current situation and the future – and also the exciting question of whether your own jersey would still be wearable if you were promoted.
The first numbers give cause for joy. The start of sales of the home jersey for the 2023/24 season is another confirmation, says von Geldern. “We sold twice as many shirts in the first week as we did a year ago. That’s strong,” he is happy about four-digit numbers, whereby one also benefits “from the great second half of the team”.
Before the third season in the self-produced and sustainable jersey, von Geldern draws a positive balance of the private label project. “DiiY is a great success story for FC St. Pauli. Your own jersey has a very big appeal,” says the economist. “We wanted to show that it’s possible. It was and is a super-successful statement that you can make a jersey yourself – and do it better and more sustainably than many large textile manufacturers.” Despite “many prophecies of doom”, they “dared and won”.
St. Pauli sold 30,000 DiiY jerseys in the first year
The fabric is popular with the fans. St. Pauli sold 30,000 of the new DiiY jerseys in the first year. A huge number for the club. Last season, without any news effect, there were still more than 25,000 – twice as many as at the time of the unpopular outfitter Under Armor and far more than at the time of Hummel.
“In the second year – and this is very important – we established DiiY,” emphasizes von Geldern. “The sales figures are still high and very stable, which shows us that the product and the idea behind it convince our fans.” There is “a high level of identification with the project – also within the club, by the way.”
But it is also clear that what a classic supplier pays to clubs (depending on the club’s appeal), St. Pauli has to generate elsewhere. A fight. So far, according to von Geldern, the club has succeeded. That’s why it annoys him when it is rumored that the private label is a loss or even a failure. “What we earn through DiiY – that includes jersey sales, but also sponsorship deals that came about through our sustainability strategy – corresponds to a normal outfitter contract in the second division. We don’t suffer any losses from DiiY.”
No losses are one thing, reduced income is another. According to von Geldern, the (counter) financing is currently successful, and credibility and radiance are paying off. But how long?
St. Pauli Jerseys: Von Geldern Divinely Agrees
“We decide from year to year how things will continue, we constantly check the situation and always want to improve,” says von Geldern – and thus basically nothing other than Divine in the end. “That’s quite normal and only professional.” And he confirms: “Of course we also deal with alternatives.”
As for the future of the St. Pauli kit, there are three scenarios. First: continue along the same path as before. Second: take the sustainability factor to a higher level. “The next step could be to create a cycle and make the jersey out of old textiles that we collected beforehand,” reports von Geldern of reflections. “But this is a highly complex and complicated process. The question is: can we do it ourselves, or do we need a partner for it?”
Scenario three: St. Pauli ends DiiY and goes old and new paths at the same time. “It could also make sense to find an established outfitter who says: ‘FC St. Pauli, change me. Let’s make a sustainable jersey together'”.
When it comes to promotion, St. Pauli would have to rethink
For the Kiezklub it could be a kind of silver bullet in the medium or long term. Playing in a sustainable jersey from an outfitter who also pays around one million euros, which corresponds to St. Pauli’s current market value in this area. The question mark: acceptance by the fans.
St. Pauli could boast of being “pioneering”. “We are always in talks with the big brands and have the impression that we have initiated something with our initiative and that there is increasing willingness among the established brands to follow the path of sustainability,” says von Geldern. “We have shown that it works and can be successful.”
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Von Geldern is convinced that FC St. Pauli is currently “in a great and very strong position, which we have brought ourselves into with creativity, courage and conviction.” “We have neither pressure nor need. We could still play in our DiiY jersey in five years.” But he also says: “If we ever go a different way, then it will not be a failure, but a further development of the basic idea of a sustainable jersey.”
Sporting success could be an accelerator, specifically: a promotion. “With our own jersey, as we are currently doing,” von Geldern clarified when asked by MOPO, “a normal supplier contract in the Bundesliga could hardly be replaced financially.”
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