You may not be familiar with Forest Green Rovers F.C., the fourth-tier English football club based in Nailsworth, Gloucestershire, England, but we’d bet you’ve heard of the team’s new merchandise partner: the Grateful Dead.
While the Grateful Dead and a little-known EFL League Two club might seem like a strange pairing, the two entities share a common affinity for environmental conservation initiatives.
While the Dead’s environmental activism has been widely acknowledged for decades, Rovers F.C.’s green initiatives have been widely celebrated, as well, having been recognized by both FIFA and the United Nations as “the world’s greenest football club” thanks to practices like powering its stadium with renewable energy, serving vegan food to players and fans alike, and transporting the team in an electric bus.
The collaboration between the Grateful Dead and Forest Green Rovers F.C. comes in the form of a clothing merchandise deal that places the Dead’s recognizable iconography alongside Rovers colors and insignias on a range of co-branded sportswear produced by sustainable U.K. clothing company I Dress Myself.
As the iconic American band’s archivist and legacy manager David Lemieux explained to Billboard of the partnership, “For us, it’s a perfect match. Forest Green Rovers is a team that really follows Grateful Dead values, which is to say that we’re both conscious of the world around us and we want to make sure that we leave it a better place than when we arrived. … We love to partner with cool people, cool companies and cool organizations who are trying to make a positive difference.”
“At the heart of everything Grateful Dead do is sustainability,” added Alex Mitchell, account director for WMX which handles the Dead’s merchandising endeavors, “so when we work on projects for them, whether it’s a multi-million-dollar deal or a small project, they need to know about its sustainable nature,” says WMX licensing and record retail account director Alex Mitchell, who oversaw the merch deal with Forest Green Rovers.
Grateful Dead merchandise partnerships have become increasingly common in recent years. Per Billboard, “At present, the band has deals with more than 100 merch partners and more than 750 products on sale in over 50 territories, spanning everything from water bottles to cosmic mushroom foraging tools to camping equipment to Grateful Dead-branded skis and snowboards, as well as an extensive range of t-shirts and clothing.”
Check out the various Grateful Dead-branded Forest Green Rangers Football Club merchandise items available via the team’s online store here.
While the Rovers partnership is the first of its kind for the Grateful Dead, the band has famously entered the arena of international athletics in the past. In 1992, after reading about Lithuania’s struggles to fund its Olympic basketball team following the fall of the Soviet Union, the band came on as a sponsor of the team. New York licensor and apparel designer Greg Speirs went on to design tie-dye gear featuring a dunking skeleton for the team to wear, which has become well-known in both sports and music circles. A 2012 documentary, The Other Dream Team, chronicled the 1992 Lithuania basketball saga in detail. Watch a trailer for the film below.
The Other Dream Team Documentary Trailer