NEW YORK — Under Armour has built a successful franchise with its Steph Curry basketball shoes, and it’s hoping for similar success with its new Inspired by Misty Copeland apparel collection.
On Tuesday night, the activewear firm unveiled the women’s ath-leisure collection — its first apparel line with any of its sponsored athletes — during an event in the Meatpacking District here.
At the launch party, Copeland described the new collection as an “urban street-to-gymwear” line that women can wear to do ballet, yoga or have lunch. She said she worked closely with Kate Williams, vice president of women’s design at Under Armour, to create the line, which was unveiled on the company’s web site right before the event began.
Williams said the line “embodies the style, spirit and energy” of the dancer, and features technical fabrics coupled with updated styling. “Misty as an athlete is so inspiring,” she said.
Copeland, the first female African-American principal dancer for the American Ballet Theater, has been sponsored by Under Armour since 2013 and is one of the faces of its “I Will What I Want” advertising campaign targeted to women.
“When they signed me, I didn’t know how the public would respond,” Copeland said, adding that she never expected the company to seek to create an apparel line centered around her. “I didn’t think it was option, but it shows how they like to push boundaries.”
She said the focused collection, which includes tights, long- and short-sleeve tops, jog bras and jackets, offers “a twist of my own fashion.” The first thing she did was share with Williams an app on her phone that is a virtual replica of her closet.
Copeland said she made sure the patterns were “minimal,” especially on the tights since she’s only 5 feet 2 inches and as a dancer, has comparatively larger legs. The Opening Night printed leggings, which retail for $149.99, are her favorites. “They’re edgy without going over the top,” she said.
Copeland, who also models the looks from the collection on the web site, said she has developed quite the passion for fashion. “I definitely have my athletic side, but once I moved to New York, fashion became a big part of my life. I’m really passionate about it and I shop way too much.”
In addition to her association with Under Armour, Copeland is a newlywed — she married Olu Evans in August — although with her jam-packed schedule, it’s hard to find time together, she said.
It’s going to be harder than ever in the next month since Copeland is preparing for a new ballet, “Whipped Cream,” that will open in Costa Mesa, Calif., in March. “I haven’t learned one step yet,” she said. After that, she’ll gear up for “Giselle,” which will be staged at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York in May.
The introduction of the Inspired by Misty Copeland line came hours after a Twitter backlash erupted after Under Armour chief executive officer Kevin Plank appeared on CNBC’s “Fast Money Halftime Report” during which he expressed support for President Trump’s pro-America stance.
In an interview with the business network, Plank said: “To have such a pro-business president is something that is a real asset for the country. People can really grab that opportunity.
“He wants to build things. He wants to make bold decisions and be really decisive. I’m a big fan of people that operate in the world of ‘publish and iterate’ versus ‘think, think, think, think, think.’ So there’s a lot of respect there.”
Plank was part of a group of business leaders in the American Manufacturing Council who met with Trump in the White House in late January to brainstorm about how to bring jobs back to America.
In a statement, Under Armour stressed that it engages in “policy, not politics,” and has “engaged with both the prior and the current administrations in advocating on business issues that we believe are in the best interests of our consumers, teammates and shareholders.
“We believe in advocating for fair trade, an inclusive immigration policy that welcomes the best and the brightest and those seeking opportunity in the great tradition of our country and tax reform that drives hiring to help create new jobs globally, across America and in Baltimore,” the company said, adding how committed it is to domestic manufacturing and that its most recent women’s collection was produced in Baltimore. “We are incredibly proud of this important first step in the evolution of creating more jobs at home,” the statement said.
But as a result of the CNBC interview, some Twitter users said they had sold their stock and called on customers to boycott the brand. New Balance was faced with a similar conundrum in November when the company’s head of public affairs, Matthew LeBretton, told The Wall Street Journal: “The Obama administration turned a deaf ear to us, and, frankly, with President-elect Trump, we feel things are going to move in the right direction.” That led to protests and people taking to social media calling for consumers to burn their sneakers.