Under Armour and NBA basketball star Steph Curry on Tuesday launched Curry Brand, a collection of "footwear, apparel, and accessories backed by Under Armour's performance product innovations."
A percentage of the brand's annual revenue will be invested in under-resourced communities, according to a press release.
Goals include creating "at least 20 safe places to play," supporting 125 programs for young athletes and training more than 15,000 coaches, in order to make "an overall impact on more than 100,000 youth" by 2025.
Nearly a year ago, Under Armour presented a slate of athletes for a new global marketing campaign, with a message of intensity and endurance — "The Only Way Is Through" — meant to stage the struggling brand's comeback.
That message inadvertently applies to daily life in a pandemic this year. The Curry Brand's theme is different, carrying on the Golden State Warriors' star's existing philanthropic efforts.
Curry and his wife founded the organization Eat. Learn. Play., which provides underserved kids opportunities to play sports. His father, Dell Curry, who played for the Charlotte Hornets, also previously established The Dell Curry Foundation to support youth in North Carolina.
The need is great, considering that less than 30% of children 6 to 18 years old from low-income households participate in organized sports, with such kids six times more likely to have to quit sports due to the cost, according to the company's press release. The pandemic has only made things worse, as sports programs are forced to hike fees and face logistical hurdles, the company also said.
"We have a shared goal of unlocking play for kids, so that became a natural place for us to focus," Curry said in a statement regarding the Under Armour partnership.
It's not clear what kind of lift Under Armour itself will get from the new brand. Performance basketball sales have been in decline since mid-2015 and now represent just 3% of U.S. sneaker sales, with sales this year down about 20%, according to Matt Powell, vice president and senior industry advisor for The NPD Group.
And no player is likely to replicate what Nike achieved with its Jordan brand, still going strong years after Michael Jordan's retirement from the game.
"It took Nike 25+ years to make Jordan into Jordan," Powell said by email. "I don't think there will ever be another Jordan, in terms of merchandise sales. The Jordan business is almost entirely retro now. Tough for UA to replicate that success."
Still, the focus on Curry's work with youth will burnish Under Armour's brand too. "I think that consumers want to know the values and purpose of the brands they buy," Powell said. "This effort is a great way to showcase UA's good work."