TOKYO—Uniqlo said Wednesday that it has named professional snowboarder Ayumu Hirano as its latest global brand ambassador. The X Games gold medalist and Olympic silver medalist will follow in the footsteps of Roger Federer, who was named a Uniqlo ambassador earlier this year.
Uniqlo said the partnership with Hirano will be similar to its agreements with other athletes but unconventional for a traditional sports sponsorship. For its ambassadors, the brand supports “not only their top performance needs, but also their fashion and everyday lifestyle needs.”
Tadashi Yanai, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Uniqlo’s parent company Fast Retailing, said in a statement, “We are greatly inspired by [Hirano’s] achievements, his creativity and his style—not just on a snowboard, but also in his sense of fashion. His flair and imagination when competing go well beyond expectations, so we will look past conventional wisdom together to achieve something truly unique through this partnership. We look forward to supporting him with special LifeWear items featuring advanced technologies, helping him to reach even greater heights in future.”
Uniqlo said Hirano will wear custom-made snowboarding outerwear in competitions, as well as commercially available items underneath. Outside of competition, he will dress in Uniqlo products that are available in stores and online.
“The partnership will provide unique opportunities for Mr. Hirano to engage in the development of custom products and materials for his performance wear, while also assisting in the design process for LifeWear,” Uniqlo said.
“Snowboarding style is closely related to casual and street style, so Uniqlo is fundamentally a great fit for me,” Hirano said in a statement. “Actually, I have had an interest in Uniqlo products for some time, and I believe that together we are doing something really fresh that has never been done before—bringing the world of snowboarding style together with the many levels in people’s lives supported by LifeWear.”
Hirano will make his debut as Uniqlo’s brand ambassador at the Dew Tour in Breckenridge, Colorado in December. He joins Federer and fellow tennis player Kei Nishikori, wheelchair tennis stars Shingo Kunieda and Gordon Reid, and golfer Adam Scott in the brand’s roster of ambassadors.
The signing of Hirano marks another major move in athlete sponsorship by Uniqlo, which surprised many observers with its deal with Federer. While never confirming the figure, reports have estimated that deal as paying Federer $300 million over the course of the 10-year contract.