Carrie Underwood is such a huge presence that it takes four people to replace her.
The “American Idol” winner and superstar country singer revealed in November 2021 that she was exiting her Calia by Carrie Underwood fitness and athleisure brand after six years. Calia is exclusive to Dick’s Sporting Goods and is the retailer’s second-best-selling fitness brand after Nike.
On Wednesday, Calia revealed its go-forward plan for the brand and it is centered around what the retailer is calling the Calia Collective, an eclectic group of four women who will serve in the role of ambassadors for the label. They are Olympic gold medal gymnast Shawn Johnson East, “Orange Is the New Black” actress Dascha Polanco, golf and travel correspondent Alexandria O’Laughlin, and entrepreneur and influencer Hannah Bronfman.
In a virtual unveiling of the team to “kick off the next chapter in the Calia story,” Nina Barjesteh, senior vice president of product development and design for Dick’s, said the women chosen to represent the brand are “passionate, driven, dynamic and talented.”
She added: “We really wanted to have the new chapter be a great representation of how we design the brand. These four women are amazing representatives in different phases of their lives and every woman can see themselves [through them].”
That includes Johnson East, who has two young children and whose exercise routine is now chasing them around the house, she said, as well as O’Laughlin, who lives her life out of a suitcase and is “gone for weeks and months at a time.”
The Calia Collective will be featured in the company’s marketing campaigns for the upcoming season. They will be working with the brand for one year, Barjesteh said, but will not have design input.
Underwood had served as the lead designer for Calia. But the design team that worked with her at Dick’s has remained with the brand and will be creating the collection going forward.
Barjesteh said Underwood was “an amazing partner, she’s terrific and we wish her all the best.”
Underwood did not say why she was parting ways with Calia last fall but posted on Instagram that the relationship with her brand was ending, adding that the fall drop last year “was probably my favorite collection we’ve done. I am so proud of everything we’ve created and built, and look forward to seeing where Calia goes from here!”
Where Calia is going is into several new product categories, Barjesteh said, including running, golf and maternity, which will be released this spring with a variety of styles in inclusive sizing that ranges from extra-small to XXXL.
Later this year, Calia fitness equipment will also be added.
The brand has historically been most successful with its fitness tights, which have evolved over the life of the label from mid-rise to high-rise as fashion trends changed. In addition, sport bras — which she described as “the number-one piece of equipment for women working out” — have also been a mainstay of the label.
Although Calia is focused on performance, the brand’s lifestyle pieces have gained a following, she said. The Journey Collection, which includes woven shorts, cardigans, joggers, jumpsuits and other pieces designed to be worn outside the gym, has also become “a key differentiator for us,” she said.