Under Armour announced Thursday that it has hired up-and-coming sports fashion designer and skateboarder Tim Coppens as creative director for its new collection, UAS (Under Armour Sportswear), launching the retailer into a new realm of sportswear ambitions.
UAS will roll out this fall and will include footwear, men's and women's apparel, and accessories. It will be sold through its own online website, in stores in New York, and at a few upscale retailers, Bloomberg reports.
The Belgian designer already has his own upscale label, Tim Coppens, which features sports-influenced street wear.
Under Armour senior vice president of sportswear Ben Pruess told news outlets that the company sees more upscale fashion as a big opportunity to branch out from its mainstay of performance fabrics and gear, what he described as “larger, more robust actions to bring Under Armour off the field and into the daily lives of our consumers.”
There is a clear path for that, considering that Under Armour already enjoys a following among a more fashion-minded set. While Pruess told Bloomberg this is not an effort to jump on the athleisure trend, the idea of designing sportswear fashionable enough to wear outside of the gym is pretty much the foundation of the athleisure movement. While some have predicted the demise of the trend in upcoming years, the markets responded positively to the news, with Under Armour's shares rising 1.7% on Thursday.
“The brand can’t live up to its fullest expression of itself without capturing this element and this opportunity in the market,” Pruess told Bloomberg. “It also affords us the opportunity to reach a new consumer.”
UAS also gives the company a way out of what Morgan Stanley apparel and footwear analyst Jay Sole called Under Armour's “unsustainable” footwear sales growth. Sole said that Under Armour's fiscal 2015 triple-digit running footwear growth was largely due to price cuts that outpaced its rivals and that in future growth would instead merely be “solid.”