On Thursday, the Baltimore-based Under Armour said it would open an innovation hub for footwear design and development in Portland, Ore. Nike is based in Beaverton, Ore., about eight miles from downtown Portland.
Under Armour’s new office will allow the brand to bring footwear design and development under one roof and marks what the company is calling its “‘most significant push in the footwear business to date.” The 70,000-square-foot facility, which Under Armour has named UX PDX, will include a biomechanics lab and a performance training center for athlete testing. It will employ around 100 people and is located in Southwest Portland, adjacent to the recently refurbished Duniway Park, on the site of a former YMCA facility.
“Footwear is a key driver of our long-term growth and success,” said Peter Ruppe Sr., vice president for footwear at Under Armour. “We’ve established a strong foundation, and now UA PDX represents a considerable leap forward toward creating leading performance footwear designed to make athletes better.”
Under Armour has been slowly making its mark in Portland, refurbishing and updating the sports fields, running tracks and trails at Lents and Duniway Parks downtown.
Opening in Nike’s longtime home state and potentially poaching some of its executives could give an added boost to Under Armour’s fledgling shoe business, which has failed to gain a foothold in the highly competitive market. Its flagship shoe is the Curry, named for one of its ambassadors, Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry. A controversy broke out a few weeks ago when Curry’s teammate — and Nike athlete — Kevin Durant said no one likes Under Armour shoes. Earlier this week, Curry finally responded, telling the Charlotte Observer: “I told [Durant] that he has a certain opinion based on his experience growing up in the Nike business. He’s entitled to that opinion obviously.…But when it comes to what I’m trying to do with Under Armour, and what the Curry brand means and what Under Armour basketball means, that statement does not ring true at all.”
Last year, Under Armour opened an innovation lab and design center called The Lighthouse in its hometown of Baltimore.