Ernest Stobbs is just one man, but he makes a serious shirt. From Tuvalu’s evocative, traditional national shirt sported at the almost-international CONIFA 2018 tournament in London, to the current international rugby shirts of Serbia, Uganda and Kazakhstan, Stobbs and his newly-constructed Stingz Sportswear brand have gone global since he started out making shirts for his local club team in Devon.
“I have links to manufacturing, so I could do it quite easily. I came up with a design for my team, got it professionally rendered, and as soon as it came through I fell in love with it,” Stobbs says of his first design. “It was for my team Farway United. I thought, I wonder how far I can push it.”
“I’m connected with a global fashion brand called Giordano, who I do brand ambassador and consulting work for, and they decided the best way to market a product was probably sports sponsorship. So we sat down and came up with a two pronged attack, approaching teams with a combination of a sponsorship package and a shirt manufacturer.”
“We got involved with CONIFA and the 2018 World Football Cup, after I heard Paul Watson [former CONIFA executive member] talking on TalkSport. I was so disillusioned with FIFA and the world governing bodies and all the money, and they stood for so much more, for community and for football for people in countries that aren’t recognised.”
“If you look at the shirts,” Stobbs says, “you’ll see our unique selling point is really in the detail. They all really reference the culture and the landmarks of where they come from, and I put a lot of time into making sure we get that right. It sounds cheesy, but it’s for the people. The shirts represent history, heritage and people.”