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Under Armour makes its fashion move

Sarah Gardner Sep 3, 2014
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How do you add more than $590 million to the value of your company in just one day? Hire Gisele Bundchen

That’s what Under Armour has done. The athletic apparel company has been aggressively marketing itself — it even tried to steal away one of Nike’s most popular endorsers, NBA star Kevin Durant (he stayed with Nike).

Under Armour has traditionally appealed to male jocks, but it’s trying to broaden its customer base to include more women. For a company that started out in the mid-’90s catering to male football players, Under Armour has come a long way. Its sales rose 34 percent in the second quarter, and the company is on track to pull in $3 billion in revenue this year.

That’s still peanuts compared to Nike, but Under Armour is flexing its marketing muscle. A host of celebrity athletes have signed on to endorse its products, including ski racer Lindsey Vonn and ballerina Misty Copeland. “The fact that they’re willing to put money behind these celebrities signals to others that, yeah, we’re going to be playing against the big guys,” says Amna Kirmani, a business professor at the University of Maryland.

Kirmani says Under Armour has always had a good reputation among serious athletes, but now the company needs to broaden its appeal with “everyday individuals.”  That includes people who may never step foot near a gym. Matt Saler, director of sports marketing at IMRE,  says active sportswear is becoming more of a mainstream fashion trend.  “Under Armour’s really at the forefront of it with Nike and their competitors. They’ve really established their place in the category as one of the leaders.” 

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