In hopes of better connecting with younger consumers and competing with Nike’s Jordan Brand, Under Armour launched the Curry Brand on Monday with Warriors point guard Stephen Curry.
The new brand, which will be introduced on CurryBrand.com this week, has shoes and clothes for a number of sports such as basketball and golf. Under Armour plans to eventually expand the brand to more categories like running and women’s. Starting Dec. 11, the brand will release performance basketball footwear in advance of Christmas gift giving.
“We wanted to make sure we did this as close as possible to the NBA season finally launching … and the fact that we’re launching in between Black Friday and the holidays we think is very opportune,” Under Armour Chief Executive Patrik Frisk told CNBC. “This also gives Stephen something to really engage in. … He’ll be actively involved in the development of the product, and we’re so excited to see one of our athletes being so involved in the product.”
Curry, 32, has been with Under Armour since 2013. In that span, he has won two NBA MVP awards and three NBA titles, and emerged as cultural phenomenon. His jersey is consistently a top seller.
According to CNBC, Monday’s launch comes at a time when Under Amour is struggling to compete for younger consumers. Nike has been the top apparel brand among teens for a decade. Per Piper Sandler’s biannual survey, Under Armour has been No. 1 on a list of brands “no longer worn” by male teens.
On Piper Sandler’s fall “Taking Stock with Teens” report, Under Armour slid from ninth place to 11th in shoes. Nike, meanwhile, remains No. 1.
It also hasn’t helped that Under Armour apparel has been widely discounted in department stores. In its last reported quarter, Under Armour’s revenue in North America fell 5% to $963 million.
Part of the reason Under Amour has had a tough time keeping pace with Nike is the growth of Nike’s Jordan Brand, which brings in more than $3.5 billion annually. One of Under Armour’s stated goals with the Curry Brand is to give kids — particularly those from low-income households — more access to sports.
Beginning in Oakland, where Curry spent the first 10 seasons of his NBA career before the Warriors moved to San Francisco, the Curry Brand will work with the Oakland Unified School District to launch basketball at every middle school. The brand will also partner with a non-profit, Positive Coaching Alliance, to provide professional coaching to the area’s youth sports coaches.
“What we want to try to do is change the game for good, and that’s how Stephen is thinking about it,” Frisk told CNBC. “We truly believe that is an opportunity for us. So, it goes beyond the actual sales of product. But, the sales of product are important because we’re going to take part of the sales and actually invest that back into this program.”
“It’s a new way for us to think about how we financially can drive an initiative, and we think that’s also an exciting business model going forward.”
Under Armour market shares are down nearly 23% this year, while Nike has gained nearly 33% since January. In January, The New York Times reported that Curry almost decided to leave Under Armour a year and a half earlier before he ultimately opted to stay. According to the Times, Curry decided to stick with the company after Under Armour brought on the former executive who had led the creation of the Jordan Brand at Nike to run the Curry Brand.
Curry also was promised much more involvement in the development of his shoes. Before the launch of the Curry Brand, he made roughly $20 million a year from Under Armour — little less than half of what he’ll earn this season from the Warriors.
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