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Under Armour Beefs Up Apparel

Activewear manufacturer Under Armour is beefing up its apparel offering for spring to support the debut of its running footwear.

NEW YORK — Under Armour is beefing up its apparel offering for spring to support the debut of its running footwear.

This story first appeared in the December 11, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The Baltimore-based activewear manufacturer now has “a head to toe story” to tell for the first time, executives said during a media launch event at Industria this week.

The advertising campaign to introduce the UA Run shoes will be the largest in the company’s history, said chief executive officer Kevin Plank. Although he declined to provide a number, he said Under Armour’s total marketing budget for the year is 12 to 13 percent of overall sales, which hit $606.6 million in 2007. This translates into $72.8 million to $78.8 million.

The UA Run shoes will include four road models and two trail runners and will retail from $84.99 to $119.99.

The ad campaign is entitled Athletes Run and was created by Under Armour’s in-house creative team. The company is planning a media blitz beginning New Year’s Day and culminating Jan. 31, the day the shoes will launch. Three 30-second spots, including a women’s-only version, will air on MTV, ESPN and the NFL Network. They will feature Under Armour-sponsored athletes including Brandon Jacobs, running back of the New York Giants; 2007 Ironman champion triathlete Chris McCormack; Nicole Branagh, Olympic volleyball player; and others.

To support the launch of the shoes, Under Armour is providing its most comprehensive collection of running apparel to date with new designs, updated fits and a wider array of colors. The apparel will incorporate the features for which Under Armour has become known, including moisture management, temperature regulation and durability.

“Apparel is still a huge driver for our business,” said Suzanne Karkus, senior vice-president of apparel. In fact, apparel accounts for almost 90 percent of sales. “The products connect back to UA Run footwear.”

The spring collection will offer 360-degree reflectivity for visibility; UPF sun protection, and pockets strategically placed for both function and to provide a “music solution,” Karkus said. Some of the items will also offer strategic mesh ventilation to enhance cooling capabilities.

The spring line will offer looser fits for both men and women and will include short sleeve T-shirts, sleeveless tank tops, shorts, woven pants and quarter- and half-zip jackets.

Among the new apparel products is the Revenant Collection for men and women, designed to coordinate with the shoes. It is the company’s upper-end, or best collection. UA Metal Revenant shirts, either sleeveless or short-sleeve, will incorporate moisture-wicking technology, welded seams, reflectivity and ventilation properties. They will retail for $55. There is also a running short with four-way stretch. The men’s model includes a HeatGear anti-odor mesh boxer insert.

Also new is the Draft men’s wear collection, which will include short-sleeve, sleeveless and long-sleeve shirts that will retail for $40. The Pacer 2.0 run short, a 7-inch model with flatlock stitching, reflectivity and rear mesh vents is also new for spring and will also retail for $40.

In women’s, a new line named Momentum will offer moisture-wicking tops for $35.

This will mark Under Armour’s debut at mall-based sporting goods chains such as Foot Locker, Champs and Finish Line. In the past, the brand has been carried primarily in specialty running stores or freestanding sporting goods stores.

To further support the launch, the company will produce a new magazine, UA Run, that will be distributed to more than 200,000 runners at key marathons around the country next year.