As Under Armour Inc. opens its first retail store today, the performance apparel brand is testing malls as a channel to better reach female consumers.
The Baltimore-based firm chose close-to-home Westfield Mall in Annapolis, Md., for the launch of a 3,750-square-foot unit so it could carefully monitor the store's performance. If the experiment succeeds, Under Armour could be poised to slowly increase its retail business next year.
"There's something interesting about sporting-goods products meeting specialty retail," said Chris Hufnagel, Under Armour senior retail director. "Hopefully, this store will change the way people think about buying sports apparel."
Under Armour, which is forecast to generate about $600 million in wholesale volume this year, is sold in 15,000 doors, from big boxes such as Dick's Sporting Goods to regional players like Paragon Sports in Manhattan.
"In our own stores, we have an opportunity to completely immerse our consumers in the brand, so it should be the physical manifestation of the Under Armour brand," Hufnagel said. "You enter the store through a tunnel, and it looks and feels like the underbelly of a stadium. We are juxtaposing the world's best high-performance products against the rawness of concrete and metal."
As the brand has grown rapidly, Under Armour purposefully left the mall channel open, Hufnagel said. But, as Under Armour focuses more on reaching the female athlete, mall stores could be one answer. In the mall channel, Under Armour predicts women's will make up 40 percent of sales. Women's contributes one-quarter of the brand's overall sales. In the long term, the company projects women's will match men's.
"The female consumer is very important to our growth, and this channel is a great opportunity to grow the women's side," Hufnagel said. "She can get service here."
Under Armour plans to bring athletes to the store for radio shows and autograph signings — a move it hopes will attract the teenage-girl consumer.
Alberta Ferretti's "Rainbow Week" sweaters are back. The designer closed her #MFW show with a few day-of-the-week sweaters, which first debuted on the catwalk last January as part of the pre-fall 2017 collection. #wwdfashion (📷: @delphineachard)