Honey's Huddle Lakers jersey for him = Jimmy Choo’s for her? Heather Dowling

As the NHL and NBA playoffs power-on, and the NFL draftees suit up for their new teams, merchandise has been on my mind.

The world of pro-sports apparel and memorabilia is no joke. In 2008, Forbes magazine estimated $4 BILLION in annual revenue, with the NFL commanding the lion’s share.  I would put down good money to bet that Miami Heat merchandise is moving off the shelves right now, and NFL number-one draft pick Andrew Luck’s jerseys are already “trending”.

And collectible items like baseball cards, game-worn jerseys, or a record setting ball can go for millions to fanatical fans. Mark McGwire’s record-setting 70th home run ball pulled over $3 million.

I’m always looking at the world of sports as a fan, for sure, but with a distinctly feminine eye. I started thinking, “What is it that gals collect? What do the ladies wear, or carry, or frame to demonstrate loyalty to something?”

I have friends who are in love with high-end cosmetics, and certain brands, like Mac. If you haven’t read it yet, you have to see the sweet deal that Jill Kushner exposed for HelloGigglers. But, is that really a collection?

Best I can tell, there is one thing many, many women collect with the same zeal as a sports’ fans passion for gear – shoes.

When it comes to kicks, U.S. consumer footwear spending hits $20 billion annually. Women’s shoes account for 40%.  Men, teens and kids make up the remainder.

Mainstreet.com says: “According to Glamour, the average woman will buy 469 pairs of shoes in her lifetime. All in all, she will end up spending $25, 000 on shoes.”

Not too surprising a number in my mind – at least, not once I did some shopping online for spring styles. These simple little sandals from Jimmy Choo will only set you back $275 from Sak’s. I found them by sorting the list price “low to high”.

Some more serious footwear fanatic finds do demand a price consistent with a collectible item at auction. Again, let’s look to one of my favorites, Mr. Choo, for the perfect example. Behold, the Niagra Plex Crystal-Adorned Platform sandals

for $2,495. If I had an occasion to wear these shoes, I would insist that any photo taken of me be from the knee down.

When I saw Caitlin Fitzgibbon’s recent HG post, it gave me the evidence I needed to prove that ladies are just as committed to building a collection and wearing the “right shoe” as any guy has ever been to own an authentic jersey stitched with his fave player’s name.  Would this be along the same lines as performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) for athletes?

Something distinctly different about these two types of collections is the way a season or style changeover happens. When a team changes over jersey style or logos, the others become “throw backs”, something cool to collect. In fact, good idea to put those kind of items behind glass to gain value.

On the other hand, a pair of Jimmy Choo’s from last year are, well, so last year. In six months, expect to see those Margot Cage Thong Sandals sitting on the shelf at Ross. Next summer, they’ll be at Buffalo Exchange for $30. Perfect for that toga party…

Here’s another disconnect. When teams are in a battle for “first place” in their field of play, there are shirts, hats and garb of all kinds in production to declare each team the winner. This way, when the contest is over…”Here! Buy a shirt showing YOUR team is the champion. NOW!”

What happens to all that gear printed with the name of the team that fell to number two? Well, it has to go somewhere.  Can you imagine a shipment of overstocked Fendi ballet flats being shipped to families living in poverty in El Salvador at the end of the “season”?

Alright, so maybe the connections aren’t so closely parallel. But, obsession is obsession. For him, (and in my case, me) owning an authentic piece of his favorite team’s history. For her, owning an authentic pair by her favorite designer.

Whatever makes you Giggle, right? Speaking of a fashion collection I’m looking forward too…

Images via NFLShop.com & Saks Fifth Avenue.

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