The ink has dried.
Under Armour on Friday confirmed what had been rumored for months, that it has signed what it is calling “a multi-facted strategic partnership” with rap artist A$AP Rocky that will involve the creation of a new collection.
The deal will also include building a series of “philanthropic community-based programs,” Under Armour said. The upcoming collection will be created before the end of the year with a later launch at retail. It will be housed under the Under Armour Sportswear (UAS) umbrella, an elevated lifestyle product division overseen by Ben Pruess, president of sport fashion, and includes the Tim Coppens-designed contemporary sportswear collection.
In addition to the Rocky product, the deal includes updating existing — or opening new — community centers in neighborhoods where students and their families can express their creativity through art, fashion, beauty, music and sport. These will initially focus on Baltimore, Los Angeles and New York and Rocky will participate whenever possible as an instructor.
“I wanted more than a collaboration partner,’’ said Rocky. “The only way to achieve this is with someone who is like minded. The Under Armour team and especially chief executive officer and founder Kevin Plank, has a shared vision, enthusiasm, and desire to do the same.”
He said that growing up in Harlem, he “had limited resources to channel my inner creativity, so I spent too much time on the streets when I should have been more productive. I now have the ability to create a better situation for today’s kids so they can go from school to a safe place to create without boundaries. Under Armour was the company that was most excited about my idea to turn sportswear products on their head while bettering kids’ lives.”
Todd Montesano, senior vice president of global entertainment and partnerships for Under Armour, said the relationship with the rapper “is a first for Under Armour. He is one of the most influential style leaders working off field in the world today and we respect his pure creative expertise and passion for culture and community.”
Montesano said he believes the partnership with Rocky “will undoubtedly provide an impact across our business, and it is our intent to empower him and his numerous talents to explore new product avenues. Furthering our unique and truly first-of-its-kind partnership together, we’ll prioritize giving back in disadvantaged communities, particularly with the youth of America.”
Under Armour declined to provide any further details on the collection at this point and neither Pruess nor Rocky was made available for additional comment.
The rapper, whose given name is Rakim Mayers, has more than 858,000 followers on Instagram and the Twitter account for his A$AP Mob moniker has nearly 450,000 followers. He has been linked to such high-profile designers as Palm Angels’ Francesco Ragazzi, Dior Homme’s Kris Van Assche and Gucci’s Alessandro Michele, said in March that he believed designers are attracted to his authenticity. “Not to toot my own horn, but I think they really recognize people who are authentic to their craft and brand aesthetic. I’m very particular. Everything is calculated. Not too calculated, but I’m cautious about who we want to be affiliated with.”