Under Armour Announces Launch of Luxury Clothing

By Parth Parikh,
Sports Business Writer

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Normally, there are two different playing fields in the clothing business. There is the luxury clothing brand, which include the likes of Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Michael Kors. On the other hand, there is the athletic clothing lines, filled with shirts, shorts and tank tops from Nike (NYSE: NKE), Adidas (NYSE: ADS.DE), and Under Armour (NYSE: UA). But on September 15th, Under Armour partnered with designer Tim Coppens and unveiled the UAS, or the Under Armour Sportswear, collection at New York Fashion Week, introducing the world to the expensive and more luxurious line of Under Armour clothing and apparel.

The partnership between the two is unlikely, with one side being an up-and-coming athletic company, signing some of the world’s top athletes and teams, and the other is a well-known fashion designer who was hired by Under Armour a few months prior to be their Executive Creative Director. Some of the new articles of clothing that was introduced were tailored sportscoats, transparent parkas and a wool, camouflage trench coat.

One of the reasons why many were surprised to see Under Armour at this event is because Under Armour, along with Nike, are leaders in the “athleisure” clothing business, which is athletic wear that can be used for sports and workout purposes, as well as relaxing and normal outerwear because of its comfort. The “athleisure” clothing line has gained popularity in recent years among teenagers and college students who would prefer to wear something simple and athletic than wear traditional polos and jeans. Nike has created its empire on their shoes and sponsorships of different organizations but have also made their mark in this specific “athleisure” department as well. Analyzers of the industry felt Under Armour would have similar aspirations and basically follow Nike’s footsteps into becoming the new athleticwear powerhouse.

With this innovation, people will start to see Under Armour with a different perspective, knowing that this company now sells seventy dollar shoes and $349 parkas, and that their goals is not only to emulate what Nike was able to do, but to take it a step further.
Those who track the company and all of its actions, though, will have noticed signs of something new and big happening way before anyone else had. Back in June, Under Armour had hired Coppens, a former Ralph Lauren executive, to be their Executive Creative Director, giving him all rights to design what he felt would better accelerate the company into the future.

Another key sign was when CEO Kevin Plank had announced that he saw athletic sportswear by Under Armour reach $13 billion in revenue, while companies like Nike had projected around $6.6 billion in sales. Anyone who believes wholeheartedly that they can double the sales of a Nike product must have had some sort of plan all along, and this seems to be the plan that finally puts Under Armour in a league of its own. Under Armour feels that their price is much more reasonable compared to other top brands, and only time will tell if this investment by Plank and Under Armour will be worthwhile or not in the future.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, September 27th print edition.

Contact Parth at
parth.parikh@student.shu.edu

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