Officially named the AWGE x Under Armour SRLo, the sneaker will be sold today at an experiential pop-up in Harlem. The space, titled AWOL, which was created in partnership with AWGE, A$AP Rocky’s creative agency, and Matte, a creative agency and production company, features four floors.
The basement is dedicated to retail, the first floor is a skate park, the second floor is an AWGE interactive space, and the third floor will host a rave. The shop exemplifies what influenced Rocky when developing the shoe with Dave Mayhew, a former pro skater who helped design the original Osiris D3 20 years ago with Brian Reid. The pop-up will be open to the public from 4 p.m. to midnight.
The skate category is a new world for Under Armour, but they lent Rocky complete creative freedom and tied the shoe back to performance by integrating its Hovr cushioning technology to make it light and comfortable. The shoe retails for $250, one of Under Armour’s most expensive price points, and comes in black along with a black-and-white colorway.
“Rocky is a creative force. He’s like a tornado that comes into the room with tons of ideas. And he’s not encumbered with the knowledge of how to make footwear,” said Ryan Drew, the general manager of Under Armour’s Sportstyle division, and the vice president and general manager of the global footwear division. “We didn’t have a treasure chest of old retro product that he could pick from. He had to start from scratch and that’s really hard. That inspired him and we gave him this blank slate that’s really unique.”
According to Drew, only 250 of each colorway will be in stock and the intention wasn’t to do a lot in volume. The mission was to introduce the brand to a younger consumer and show Under Armour’s ability to collaborate with creatives, combine their ideas with innovative technology and make strong product. For example, Rocky was adamant about having a two-part box that connected the shoes with a carabiner. It was a complex design that required Under Armour to visit a factory to oversee its construction.
“I don’t know if we are trying to create what Kanye has with Adidas, but we are looking for creative people who have great ideas, but also make sense in the performance space,” said Drew.
Initially the deal was described as “a multifaceted strategic partnership,” but Drew said they decided to just focus on a sneaker, which took the pressure off of Rocky. It also signals a shift in how Under Armour is approaching its lifestyle collection, which used to be called UAS, but is now titled Sportstyle.
“We realized that some of the things we were doing with our sportswear collections were dipping our toes into some areas that didn’t make sense for our brand or our consumer,” said Drew, who added that there are currently no plans with A$AP Rocky outside of this sneaker.
In 2016, Tim Coppens was named executive director of UAS, fashion-forward performance brand, but that partnership ended in 2017. Drew said now the focus is on sneakers, but they are also designing an apparel collection in-house with performance features, but they aren’t completely done with fashion. Palm Angels unveiled a collaboration with Under Armour in June during Milan Fashion Week that was constructed with Under Armour’s recovery technology that features bio-ceramic particles that absorb infrared wavelengths released by the body and give back infrared energy that helps the body recover faster and promotes sleep.
A balance of performance and style is what Drew feels is necessary for Under Armour, which has struggled in the lifestyle space, going forward.
“Rocky’s collaboration takes it pretty far out there in terms of the style side, but I think that’s good for us to show sneaker heads, consumers and athletes that Under Armour can make this type of product but it’s still grounded in technology,” said Drew.