Under Armour’s Founder Returns, Plots Comeback

Under Armour

As competition heats up, activewear brands are on notice.

The news: Founder Kevin Plank is returning to Under Armour, replacing Stephanie Linnartz as CEO.

A pioneer of sweat-wicking tech, UA has struggled to maintain momentum, with its stock down ~85% from its 2015 peak. In 2023, it shuffled its C-suite, leaned into sportstyle, and launched campaigns targeting women and Gen Z.

But, in a crowded space, authenticity will be key to a comeback.

New rubric. Performance fabrics are ubiquitous, meaning premium brands must compete on aesthetics, clout, and impact for long-term dominance.

Leveraging sneaker culture, adidas struck gold with Sambas and Nike with Jordans. But lacking a fashionable flagship product, Under Armour’s legacy isn’t as secure.

Betting big on Curry Brand last year, the company will test the limits of its star player’s rep.

Recalibrating. Amidst an activewear renaissance, incumbents are being forced to reassess strategy or risk being edged out by newcomers.

  • Closing stores, recreation-focused Outdoor Voices pivoted back to online only last week.
  • Donating Yeezy sales as damage control, adidas posted its first loss in 30 years.
  • Despite a surprising Q4 miss, On remains undeterred in global expansion plans.

Elsewhere, Nike and lulu are testing ways to stay relevant, leaning into new categories and leading with inclusivity.

Looking ahead: The good news, consumer demand is high — but so is competition. A challenge for labels large and small, shoppers are raising expectations and keeping receipts.

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