UFC Fighters Show Just How Stretchy (Yet Professional) This Menswear Line Is in This Epic Ad

Stephen Thompson and TJ Dillashaw duke it out for Van Heusen

UFC fighters TJ Dillashaw and Stephen Thompson battle it out wearing professional attire. Van Heusen
Headshot of Katie Richards

Suits and other work attire are not known for being the most comfortable, freeing articles of clothing. You wouldn’t typically want to wear your best work suit to run a marathon or step into a boxing ring—unless somehow it was incredibly flexible, breathable and comfortable.

Van Heusen believes its Flex Collection, which hit the market about four years ago, is so easy to wear that UFC fighters could theoretically wear the pants, shirts and jackets in an epic showdown and still be able to take on their opponent with ease. The brand tapped UFC welterweight Stephen Thompson and bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw to wear pieces from the collection and fight in an epic new spot for the brand.

In the spot, the two are working side by side in an office environment when suddenly a fighting cage drops down around them and a fight breaks out. As things get heated, consumers can see the clothing, in all its stretchiness, in action.

“I want people to believe that the product works, because it does. If it can stretch this much on them in these conditions, it is obviously something that would be relevant to them,” Mike Kelly, CMO of Van Heusen parent company PVH Heritage Marketing.

Van Heusen worked with Jonathan Sela, director of photography for films including John Wick and Atomic Blonde, to bring an authentic (but choreographed) fight scene to life for the campaign.

“What was fun is, of course, these guys have never been in a fake fight before. They were so good at how quickly they were able to adapt to how to pull a punch, how to hit somebody and not really hurt them. Plus, Jonathan Sela brought so much experience along with the stunt and fight coordinators,” Kelly added.

The new campaign ties to news that Van Heusen will become the very first official men’s dress furnishings provider for the UFC. The work, done by Van Heusen’s in-house team, is set to debut on Aug. 4, during a rematch between Dillashaw and Cody Garbrandt. That fight will be held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

“We didn’t plan it this way but TJ [Dillashaw] will be in a title fight for a pay per view event. As part of the sponsorship with UFC, we wanted to be in the space, we wanted to be endemic and inside the space,” Kelly said, adding the brand is sponsoring the fight with its name on the mat. Van Heusen purchased inventory around the fight and will support its efforts with digital buys and a social component.

Both Thompson and Dillashaw said they were thrilled to work on the campaign and show the world that UFC fighters can dress the part and have a sense of style that some might relegate to NBA or NFL players. It’s also important to both that the brand they’re promoting really does fit their lifestyles.

“I’m an MMA fighter and so I love to wear stuff that is functional. I like to look sharp and look good, but at the same time I want something that is functional if I need to defend myself or to move around and run, I want to be comfortable and the Flex Collection allows me to do that,” Thompson explained. “I can kick, I can punch, I can flip but at the same time I look sharp.”

Added Dillashaw: “My fighting style is very movement oriented and I couldn’t be restricted by clothing. The Flex Collection does a great job of letting you move freely and almost feels like I am wearing Spandex, which I actually train in. We did the whole commercial in these outfits and there’s no faulty equipment.”


Client: Van Heusen/ PVH
Agency: PVH Marketing Group
CMO: Mike Kelly
SVP Creative Services: Anthony Trama
Director of Production: Kristopher Walter
Sr. Director Creative Services: Samantha Truedsson
Sr. Director Fashion and Styling: Chad Kincaid
Technical Consultant: Ben Orisich
Production Company: Nighttrain Films
Directors: Adam Reid + Mike Kelly
Writer: Adam Reid
Producer: Mike Alfieri
1st AD: Chris Bicknell
Director of Photography: Jonathan Sela
Production Designer: Alexander Pascion
Post Producer: Terry-Anne Alexander
Editors: Pat Carpenter + Gian Franco Morini
Color Correction: Chris Hengeveld
Music and Audio Mix: Sherman Foote/ Bigfoote Music and Sound

@ktjrichards katie.richards@adweek.com Katie Richards is a staff writer for Adweek.