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Under Armour

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Under Armour, Inc.
TypePublic company
IndustryTextile, sports equipment
Founded1996; 26 years ago (1996)
FounderKevin Plank
HeadquartersBaltimore, Maryland, U.S.
Area served
Key people
  • Kevin Plank
    (Executive Chairman)
    Colin Browne
    (interim President and CEO)
ProductsFootwear, sportswear, clothing, toiletries
RevenueIncrease US$5.27 billion (2019)
Increase US$236.77 million (2019)
Increase US$92.14 million (2019)
Total assetsIncrease US$4.84 billion (2019)
Total equityIncrease US$2.15 billion (2019)
Number of employees
16,400 (2019)
Footnotes / references

Under Armour, Inc. is an American sports equipment company that manufactures footwear, sports and casual apparel.[2] Under Armour's global headquarters are located in Baltimore, Maryland, with additional offices located in Amsterdam (European headquarters), Austin, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Houston, Jakarta, London, Mexico City, Munich, New York City, Panama City (international headquarters), Paris, Pittsburgh, Portland, San Francisco, São Paulo, Santiago, Seoul, Shanghai (Greater Chinese headquarters), and Toronto.[3]


Early history[edit]

Kevin Plank, founder of Under Armour, pictured in 2018

Under Armour was founded on September 25, 1996 by Kevin Plank, a then 24-year-old former special teams captain of the University of Maryland football team. Plank initially began the business from his grandmother's basement in Washington, D.C.[4] He spent his time traveling along the East Coast with nothing but apparel in the trunk of his car. His first team sale came at the end of 1996 with a $17,000 sale. From his grandmother's basement, Plank moved to Baltimore. After a few moves in the city he moved to his current headquarters in Tide Point.[5]

As a fullback at the University of Maryland, Plank got tired of having to change out of the sweat-soaked T-shirts worn under his jersey; however, he noticed that his compression shorts worn during practice stayed dry. This inspired him to make a T-shirt using moisture-wicking synthetic fabric.[6] After graduating from the University of Maryland, Plank developed his first prototype of the shirt, which he gave to his Maryland teammates and friends who had gone on to play in the NFL. Plank soon perfected the design creating a new T-shirt built from microfibers that wicked moisture and kept athletes cool, dry, and light.[4] Major competing brands including Nike, Adidas and Reebok would soon follow in Plank's footsteps with their own moisture-wicking apparel.[7] Plank opted to use the British spelling "armour" in the company name because the toll-free vanity number was still available for that version.[8]

People began to take notice of the brand when a front-page photo of USA Today featured Oakland Raiders quarterback Jeff George wearing an Under Armour mock turtleneck. Following that front page, Under Armour's first major sale came, when an equipment manager from Georgia Tech requested 10 shirts from Plank. This deal opened the door to contracts with NC State, Arizona State, and other Division I football teams. With positive reviews from players, word began to spread and orders began to increase.[6] That same year, Under Armour launched with several new apparel lines including ColdGear, TurfGear, AllseasonGear, and StreetGear.[6] By the end of 1996, Under Armour had sold 500 Under Armour HeatGear shirts, generating $17,000 for the company.[6] In 1997, Plank had $100,000 in orders to fill and found a factory in Ohio to make the shirts.


Under Armour received its first big break in 1999 when Warner Brothers contacted Under Armour to outfit two of its feature films, Oliver Stone's Any Given Sunday and The Replacements.[4] In Any Given Sunday, Willie Beamen (played by Jamie Foxx) wears an Under Armour jockstrap. Leveraging the release of Any Given Sunday, Plank purchased an ad in ESPN The Magazine. The ad generated close to $750,000 in sales.[citation needed]

UA Corporate office in Canada

The following year, Under Armour became the outfitter of the new XFL football league, gaining even more attention during the league's debut on national television.[6] In 2003, consumer sector focused private equity firm Rosewood Capital invested $12 million into the company.[9] The same year, the company launched its first television commercial, which centered on their motto, "Protect this house."[4] The company IPO'd on the NASDAQ in November 2005, raising $153m of capital.[10] In late 2007, Under Armour opened its first full-line full-price retail location at the Westfield Annapolis mall in Annapolis, Maryland.[11]

It has also opened several specialty stores and factory outlet locations in Canada, China, and 39 states including the opening of its first Brand House in Baltimore in 2013 and second Brand House in Tyson's Corner, Virginia.[12]

In 2009, baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. formed an alliance under which the company would have a significant presence at several venues and events under the auspices of Ripken Baseball, including providing uniforms for the minor league Aberdeen IronBirds and youth teams participating in the Cal Ripken World Series.[13]

UA Brand House at Disney Springs

The company is reported to be the major commercial sponsor for the reality TV show Duck Dynasty and has garnered attention for taking a stand supporting show "patriarch" Phil Robertson.[14]

Under Armour provided the suits worn by speedskaters in the 2014 Winter Olympics. The US speedskaters were losing while wearing the new Mach 39 speedsuits, but when they reverted to the previous model suits, the skaters continued to lose. Although there did not appear to be a design flaw in the suit that caused the poor results, the news of the suits caused Under Armour stock to drop 2.38%.[15]

The company, offering a reported US$250,000,000 over 10 years, also bid hard over Nike to sign NBA MVP Kevin Durant to an endorsement deal. However, Nike ultimately re-signed Durant after agreeing to structure a contract, offering US$300,000,000.[16]

On January 21, 2014, it was announced that the University of Notre Dame and Under Armour had come to terms with providing uniforms and athletic equipment for the university. This 10-year deal was the largest of its kind in the history of college athletics and became effective July 1, 2014. As of 2014, Under Armour had an operating profit of more than 30%, accelerating from its 2013 pace. The company's share price soared 62.5% that year.[16]

UA store in Wan Chai, Hong Kong

After its November 2013 acquisition of digital app maker MapMyFitness for US$150,000,000, in February 2015 Under Armour announced it had purchased the calorie and nutrition counting app maker MyFitnessPal for $475m, as well as the fitness app maker Endomondo for US$85,000,000.[17][18]

On January 6, 2016, Under Armour announced a strategic partnership with IBM to use IBM Watson's cognitive computing technology to provide meaningful data from its IOT kit and UA Record app.[19]

On March 3, 2016, the company became the Official Match Ball Partner of the North American Soccer League, starting with their 2016 season.[20][21]

On May 26, 2016, Under Armour and UCLA announced their plans for a 15-year, $280 million contract, making this the largest shoe and apparel sponsorship in NCAA history.[22]

In July 2016, Under Armour leased the 53,000-square-foot (4,900 m2) space formerly occupied by FAO Schwarz on New York's Fifth Avenue. FAO Schwarz had been paying $20 million in rent.[23] The store's opening, originally planned for 2019, was pushed back to 2021.[23][24] Under Armour then announced in March 2021 that it was planning on subleasing approximately half of the overall space.[25]

Depot of the Under Armour German subsidiary

On December 5, 2016, Under Armour reached a 10-year agreement with Major League Baseball to become the official on-field uniform provider of the MLB, beginning in 2020.[26] Under Armour will replace Majestic, who has been MLB's uniform provider since 2004. However, in May 2018, it was reported that Under Armour would be backing out of the deal with MLB, in order to save the company around $50 million. Nike would instead become the on-field uniform supplier of the league.[27] MLB's deal with Nike became official on January 25, 2019.[28]

Under Armour has a partnership with NBA athlete Stephen Curry, who is considered to be the "face of their footwear line".[29] Originally signed to Nike, Curry joined with Under Armour in the 2013 offseason.[30] As Curry became a two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Award winner and one of the most popular athletes in the world, sales of his shoes have become a major factor for the Under Armour brand, with stock prices rising and falling based on the success of the Curry shoe line.[31][32]

Under Armour has a partnership with PGA golfer Jordan Spieth, who has won three majors so far (the 2015 Masters, the 2015 U.S. Open and the 2017 Open Championship) and has recently launched his own golf shoe, "Spieth One."[33]

On October 10, 2018, Under Armour announced that it has signed Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid to a sneaker endorsement deal.[34]

In October 2019, Kevin Plank announced he would be stepping down by 2020, and COO Patrik Frisk would succeed him as CEO in January 2020.[35][36] In July 2020, the company received Wells Notices from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Mr. Plank the Under Armour's CEO, David Bergman. The notices are the result of its accounting revelations for the years 2015 and 2016 and "pull forward" sales for the same period.[37] The same month, the company reported revenue decline of 41% for the Q2 of 2020 or $707.6 million. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Under Armour had to close its physical stores earlier that same year. Despite the revenue decline, it still fared better than the analytic predictions, which had previously estimated profits of $541 million in sales for Q2.[38]


For the fiscal year 2018, Under Armour reported losses of US$46 million, with annual revenue of US$4.977 billion, an increase of 9.9% over the previous fiscal cycle. Under Armour's market capitalization was valued at over US$10.7 billion in November 2018.[39]

Year Revenue
in mil. US$
Net income
in mil. US$
Total Assets
in mil. US$
2005 281 14 204
2006 431 39 289
2007 607 52 391
2008 725 38 488
2009 856 46 546
2010 1,064 68 675
2011 1,473 96 919
2012 1,835 129 1,157
2013 2,332 162 1,578
2014 3,084 208 2,095
2015 3,963 233 2,866
2016 4,833 198 3,644
2017 4,989 -48 4,006
2018 4,977 −46 4,245
2019 5,267 92 4,843


UA ArchiTech shoes
UA cap

Products manufactured by Under Armour include athletic shoes,[40] t-shirts, jackets, hoodies,[41] pants, leggings, shorts,[42] athletic bras, athletic bags, face masks and accessories such as bags,[43] gloves, caps and protective gear.[44]

Under Armour also produces American football, basketball[45] and soccer[46][47] uniforms, among other sports.

Early products[edit]

The expansion of Under Armour's product lines, such as TurfGear, AllseasonGear, and StreetGear put Under Armour at the forefront of the emerging performance apparel industry.[4] In 2003, Under Armour launched their Women's Performance Gear product line.[4]

Recent releases[edit]

UA t-shirt

Under Armour announced an addition to their ColdGear product line, called Infrared, that was released in 2013.[48] This line claims to dissipate and re-circulate heat around the wearer's body using ceramic powder. This was purportedly designed so that the wearer's heat signature will not be picked up. Under Armour also had released a product with scent control technology in 2012 titled, "Under Armour Scent Control". This line claims to be designed so that the wearer's scent cannot be detected.[49]

Under Armour is inventing a new type of shirt called "Coldblack," which is designed to reflect heat and keep athletes cool in the sun.[50] Under Armour has come out with new styles for football uniforms. In October 2012, Under Armour created "The Wounded Warrior" project for football uniforms.[51] The University of Hawaii and Boston College wore the star-studded cleats and the American striped jerseys. They were revealed when Boston College played Maryland on October 27, 2012, also when Hawaii played UNLV on November 24, 2012.[51]

The company produces the Speedform shoe in a Chinese bra factory. It has no insole and little stitching. Shoes are Under Armour's fastest growing product line, growing 31% from 2011 to $239 million in sales in 2012.[52]

In 2018, Under Armour launched two new pairs of connected running shoes at CES. Inside each shoe is a Bluetooth module, accelerator and gyroscope.[53]

In November 2020, Under Armour announced a new brand in partnership with NBA star Stephen Curry called the Curry Brand.[54] The launch of this new brand follows Under Armour's recent quarterly earnings, resulting in $1.43 billion in revenue, which was flat in comparison to 2019.[55]


On April 29, 2009, the United States Consumer Products Safety Commission announced a voluntary recall of all Under Armour brand athletic cups. The cups might break when hit, posing a risk of serious injury. They were sold from January 2006 to March 2009.[56]

On November 3, 2011, the United States Consumer Products Safety Commission announced a voluntary recall of all Under Armour Defender chin straps. The straps pose a laceration hazard when a player contacts the metal snap. They were sold from January 2008 to September 2011.[57]


In 2014, sales of apparel, footwear and accessories represented 74.3%, 14% and 9.9% of net revenues, respectively. Revenue has grown steadily by 30% from 2010 to 2014.[58] As of January 28, 2016, the fourth quarter net revenues for 2015 increased 31% to $1.17 Billion while the full year net revenues increased 28% to $3.96 Billion. Based on these numbers, Under Armour has updated its 2016 net revenues outlook to approximately $4.95 Billion (+25%).[59]

Community involvement[edit]

UA Give Back is Under Armour's effort to become involved in different facets of the world community. They have different branches in their organization that specialize in each cause that Under Armour supports. They consist of the UA Power in Pink, UA Freedom and UA Win Global.[60]

UA Power in Pink is an Under Armour program that promotes women using exercise and fitness to fight breast cancer.[61] UA Freedom is an Under Armour program that supports the efforts of the Wounded Warrior Project whose mission is to honor, raise awareness, and aid wounded veterans and military service members.[62] UA Win Global is a children's athletics program which focuses on "underserved communities" by enhancing play areas, investing in sports programs and providing support for sports coaches.[63]

As of 2012, Under Armour was the sponsor of the Baseball Factory's "Premium Video Program", which holds more than 100 events for youth athletes across the United States annually.[64]

After ads of many brands ran on extremist channels promoting extremist content on YouTube, Under Armour pulled its ad from Alphabet Inc. owned YouTube.[65]


Under Armour promotes its products by sponsorship agreements with many celebrity athletes, professional teams and college athletic teams, a field in which it competes with other sports apparel companies.[66][67]

One of its most fiscally beneficial marketing strategies has been its collaboration with wrestler-turned-celebrity, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, who has become the face of the company since January 2016.[68]

Under Armour also markets its products through product placements:

  • Any Given Sunday: Signed on to provide their apparel to Oliver Stone's film. The key scenes that featured Under Armour gave the products relevancy in the sporting nation. This product placement led Kevin Plank to place an ad in ESPN the Magazine to capitalize on the national exposure.[4]
  • The Challenge (Seasons 15–present): Under Armour provides the contestant's jerseys for them to wear when they are in competition.[69]
  • The Replacements[4]
  • The Wire: Under Armour is prominently featured in the Baltimore-set HBO series.[70]
  • Under Armour products have also been featured in the Marvel movies (Avengers series, Iron Man series, Captain America series, etc.).[71]
  • House of Cards: Under Armour running gear is depicted.[72]
  • Bad News Bears: The Yankees wear Under Armour gear.
  • The Blind Side: Michael's football team and Lily's volleyball team wear Under Armour gear.[73]
  • 22 Jump Street: The Metro City State University Statesmen football team wears Under Armour gear.[74]
  • Million Dollar Arm: Dinesh and Rinku wear Under Armour gear.
  • The Gambler: The basketball teams wear Under Armour gear.[75]
  • Gridiron Gang: The Mustangs wear Under Armour gear.[76]
  • Focus: The football teams in the movie wear Under Armour uniforms.[77]
  • The Dark Knight Rises: The football teams in the movie wear Under Armour uniforms.[78]



UA Fitness Performance Center and historic mural covering[edit]

The historic lobby floor pictured in 1933, is now covered by artificial turf for the UA Fitness Performance Center

In 2015, Under Armour released plans for their new Under Armour Fitness Performance Center powered by FX Studios at the Bank of America Building at 10 Light Street in Baltimore. The Fitness Performance Center is planned to take place in the building's lobby, covering historic murals of Baltimore's history by art deco artist Hildreth Meiere with artificial turf flooring. This plan has been seen as controversial due to the fact that Kevin Plank, Nate Costa (president of FX Studios) and developer Cary Euwer used state and federal tax credits to restore the historical building, yet the historical murals are being covered up by turf flooring.[79] Many historians and local Baltimoreons have expressed public outcry that the design should be reconsidered and the murals should be saved.

Trophy hunting video[edit]

In January 2016 Under Armour initiated a marketing campaign featuring women hunters including an American woman named Sarah Bowmar.[80][81] In August 2016 a video filmed by Bowmar, showing her husband spearing a bear and then rejoicing that he had hit it, went viral. The bear was found dead the next day.[80][82] Under Armour was heavily criticized worldwide and as result, the company ended its contract with Bowmar a few days after the video became known.[80]

Trump endorsement and public boycott[edit]

Plank expressed support for President Trump in February 2017.

On February 7, 2017, two weeks into the presidency of Donald Trump, CEO Kevin Plank expressed his support for the administration and its friendliness to corporations.[83]

Numerous athletes contracted with Under Armour also spoke out in opposition to Plank's statements. Stephen Curry, the most valuable of the company's sponsorships, hinted that his loyalty to the company could be jeopardized if its actions do not reflect his values.[84] Dwayne Johnson voiced disapproval with the CEO's personal attitudes being reflected onto the company's partners and employees.[85]

On February 15, eight days following Plank's statements, Plank took out a full-page ad in the Baltimore Sun to clarify his position and that of the company. The letter acknowledged that he had used "a choice of words that did not accurately reflect my intent" and described how his company valued diversity, entrepreneurship and job creation. He condemned the administration's ban on travel to and from seven primarily Muslim nations, adding "we will join a coalition of companies in opposition to any new actions that negatively impact our team, their families or our community."[86]

In a statement issued to reporters on June 2, Plank deplored the Trump Administration's decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris agreement:

We at Under Armour are disappointed by the Administration's decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement as climate change continues to threaten our planet, our cities and our economies. Climate change is real and must be taken seriously by our business community, our customers, our neighbors and our elected officials. Sustainability has always been part of our DNA: it's integral to how we live and work and is essential to our environment. As a business leader concerned with creating American jobs, I disagree with the decision to exit the Paris accord.[87]

On August 14, 2017, Plank removed himself from President Trump's Manufacturing Jobs Initiative Council,[88] following backlash over Trump's response to the events in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Fireproofing and flammability[edit]

In June 2018 a Facebook post and subsequent Reddit thread emerged stating that Under Armour clothing was flammable and resulted in severe burn injuries to a child.[89] At present there has been no public statement from the company, and public debate seems to circle around the question of what is distinct about fireproof clothing, flammability, and risk of burn injury. This was found out to be false.

Though no recall was issued, a 2018 study found that Under Armour's material was more likely to result in a burn injury of the wearer than most other undergarment materials.[90]

Federal probe[edit]

In November 2019, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission made public that Under Armour's accounting policies had been under scrutiny for more than two years.[91] In July 2020, the company confirmed that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission had sent Wells Notices relating to Under Armour's accounting in 2015 and 2016.[92]

See also[edit]


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