During the French Open, Tour de France, and Olympics, it is clear that France has some serious athletic finesse. With that, Google Insights shows French sports equipment and apparel are the hot trends for the U.S. There is also an industry report that states that the market for French sports products in America is (and has been) growing rapidly. On the other hand, some companies, like the popular Le Coq Sportif, tried the American offline market and "pulled out."
Online, there are a variety of blog posts about the cutely designed away game "kits", shoes, clothes, and equipment that feature French sports apparel brands. Sadly, for U.S. customers, there are few places that sell some of these brand names online.
Altogether, there are eight major French sports brands and manufacturers. Interestingly, from several hours of research, it is apparent that not all of them are from France. Thankfully, the main conclusion is that there are interesting ways for Americans to buy the coveted hard-to-find assumed French sports brands online.
Can you find Le Coq Sportif in the U.S.A.?
Featured at a party in March 2012 representing Italian cyclists in New York City, this brand appears to be making one of the strongest presences in America online -- and offline. Over the past year, Le Coq Sportif has led the way with blogs raving about last fall's Arthur Ashe nubuck shoes in a variety of bright colors. Also popular in 2011, vivid hi-tops designed with Joachim Noah had shoe trend bloggers delighted.
Along with shoes and clothes, this French sports manufacturer is also popular for their golf, soccer, cycling, and tennis accessories and equipment. Since it appears to be a fashion trend, you would think that Le Coq Sportif and their Fall 2012 collection of Gallic roosters would be easy to find in the U.S. Interestingly, after hours of digging, one reputable dealer outside of Ebay rises to the top. Stocked with all of 2012s latest trends, you can get Le Coq Sportif shoes and more at SportieLA.com.
In addition to ordering online, you can visit Sportie LA at three locations in Los Angeles. If you find something from the LeCoqSportif.com website that only appears to be available in Europe -- there is hope. For example, like many retailers with connections to a manufacturer, special orders are often fulfilled by contacting a store that already sells that brand.
Finding top French sports apparel brands online
Sure, you can find French sportswear brands at TheFind.com, but are some of the lesser known websites reliable? When you buy a unique item from another country online, it is nice to use online reviews from places like TrustPilot. Regardless, a website that sells an item you can only buy in France, Europe, or Asia may have reviewers that are not completely reliable.
For these reasons, ordering online with places your are unfamiliar with can be scary. If you cannot find everything you want at places like Sportie LA, Yoox, Amazon, Zappos, or Ebay, there are ways to protect yourself at the point of purchase. One of these is to consult a reference like ShopWiki.com before you buy. You should also have an insured transaction and a secure connection with anything you purchase online. In other words, do not give a website your bank account number.
Now that you have all the tools you need to find unique French sports apparel, your next step is hunt down ways to get it sent to your address. Below is a list of ten other French sports apparel and equipment brands with tips for Americans that want to buy them online.
1. Lacoste - For decades, this French sports apparel and equipment company has been well known in America. Their little green alligator logo is available online at Lacoste.com.
2. Lole - This company is often confused with being from France, but Lole is actually a French-Canadian sportswear business based in Montreal. As a focus, they definitely have an angle toward urban women and personal fitness workouts such as running and yoga. Their take is versatile clothing that can be worn easily in the gym, at home, at a sports-based job, or at the grocery. LoleWomen.com has U.S. ordering options from their main website.
3. Orage - Like Lole, this company is often confused as being from France when they are French-Canadian. Available to American buyers, Orage.com has a focus on wintertime clothing and snow sports like skiing and snowboarding.
4. Salomon - A partner with Mavic, "a French manufacturer of bike systems and rider's equipment," Salomon.com is located in Annecy, France. Salomon's selection goes beyond other brands by carrying a wide variety of sports equipment and apparel. Good examples are trail running, hiking, and shoes. They also have an extensive list of products for snowboarding, Alpine skiing, and Nordic skiing.
5. Babolat- The website clearly states in English that, "tennis runs in our blood." Showcasing at events like the French Open, Babolat tennis racquets and badminton equipment are trendy and products like the Babolat AeroPro Drive are commonly available for U.S. customers online.
6. Louis Garneau - A former road racing and track cyclist, this French-Canadian's company is often mistaken as a French sports apparel company. Offering top of the line clothing, helmets, and bike accessories, there are other specialized areas of American-friendly LouisGarneau.com. In particular, they carry equipment for juvenile cycling, triathlon, speed skating, snowshoeing, and winter athletic apparel across a wide range of sports.
7. Lafuma - Considered a top eco-firm, Lafuma is an outdoors athletic apparel company that is widely available online in the U.S. Unlike other French sports apparel and equipment companies, their focus is on camping in the summer or winter. On the Lafuma-Boutique.com website, there are items like tents, down jackets, and a wide variety of camping furniture.
More from this Contributor:
Italian Sports Apparel; Unique Fashion Trend: Fan's View
- Sports & Recreation
- Le Coq Sportif