After months of speculation, Under Armour has officially confirmed the world’s worst-kept secret: It has created a line for its superstar athlete, Stephen Curry.
Called the Curry Brand, the inaugural collection of footwear, apparel and accessories will launch on Tuesday. The initial launch will be focused on basketball and golf with running, training and women’s-specific collections planned for future seasons. It will be updated quarterly.
In addition to the product, a percentage of the yearly revenue for the label will be invested in under-resourced communities, the company said. By 2025, the Curry Brand hopes to be able to create at least 20 safe places to play, support 125 programs that impact young athletes, and deliver opportunities to train more than 15,000 coaches — initiatives that will impact more than 100,000 young people. Investments will include building safe places to play, providing programming and products for team sports through regional school systems and local organizations, and coaching and leadership development.
Curry has a long family history of giving back. His father, Dell Curry, who was also a professional basketball player, was active in the North Carolina community when he was playing for the Charlotte Hornets, and established The Dell Curry Foundation to support youth in the area. Stephen Curry followed his example and he and his wife, Ayesha, have a youth-focused family foundation called Eat. Learn. Play.
“We have a shared goal of unlocking play for kids, so that became a natural place for us to focus,” Curry said of the partnership with Under Armour. “I grew up doing a lot of things to give back to the community with my family — and continue that now — while Under Armour has done so much to support athletes around the world.”
Fewer than 30 percent of youth ages six to 18 in low-income households participate in organized sports, and low-income kids are six times more likely to quit sports because of financial costs, Under Armour said.
“Play is a fundamental part of childhood and is critical to development. So much of who I am as a person and a leader today is because of playing sports as a kid,” Curry said. “I learned the value of hard work, resilience, teamwork, communication, time management — sports teach young athletes so many critical life skills, which is why I’m passionate about making sure everyone has access to these opportunities, first through my foundation and now through Curry Brand.”
“For many years, Stephen and Under Armour have worked together in partnership — a partnership built around shared values,” said Patrik Frisk, Under Armour’s president and chief executive officer. “Through this brand, we have an opportunity to push forward our vision for a better world, especially for young athletes facing challenges with access and opportunity for sport.”
Curry, the Golden State Warriors star, has been sponsored by the Baltimore-based sports brand since 2013, but the association has mainly centered around sneakers. His contract with the brand runs through 2024. He had previously been sponsored by Nike.
Last year, the two dabbled in apparel by teaming on a golf collection under the name UA Range Unlimited Collection with Under Armour. Curry wore the second iteration of that line, which includes polo shirts, five-pocket chinos and bomber jackets along with spikeless golf shoes, in a spectator-free celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe in July.
According to Forbes’ 2019 list of the NBA’s Richest Shoe Deals, Curry’s deal with Under Armour is worth $20 million, or fourth overall. He falls behind Kevin Durant, whose Nike endorsement deal is worth $26 million and LeBron James’ Nike deal, which is $32 million. But all of them put together don’t reach the volume figure for Nike’s Jordan Brand, which is worth $130 million. And that’s just the shoes. Wholesale volume for the brand exceeded $3 billion in fiscal year 2019.
However, Under Armour has a way to go to reach Jordan levels. The relationship between the brand and the athlete hasn’t always been perfect. In 2018, Under Armour’s founder and chief executive at the time, Kevin Plank, was displeased that Curry wasn’t wearing the brand to games and Curry was frustrated by the soft sales of his signature shoe. The shoe was hammered on social media as looking like dad sneakers — and not in a good way — Oldsmobile arm rests or PT Cruisers. They decided to remain partners as long as Under Armour created a separate brand and Curry was more involved, according to published reports, hence Curry Brand.
An Under Armour spokesperson wouldn’t disclose sales projections for the line, but said that a minimum of 1 percent of yearly proceeds are being earmarked for the philanthropic efforts, so “more revenue means more dollars flow back into the community. This is the baseline we set, which we evaluated to be the minimum needed to begin moving the needle of access and equality to sports over the next four years.”
Apparel and accessories are being sold on the Curry Brand website immediately and performance basketball shoes will be offered beginning on Dec. 11, the same day the CurryFlow8 shoe is also launching.