Last week, we suggested that athletic giant Under Armour lacked the prestige to make a case for a major flagship store that might appear in the GM Building.
We may have spoken too soon.
This morning, Business of Fashion announced that Belgian born, New York based designer Tim Coppens would be adding to his duties at his own label and joining Under Armour as executive creative director of Under Armour Sportswear, a new, more upscale casual sub-brand for men and women to be known as UAS that will appear in stores this fall (see the logo at left). While Coppens has long incorporated athletic elements in collections for his own five-year old label, and designed for Adidas and Ralph Lauren's RLX performance athletic wear line, the UAS label will be Under Armour's first collection not designed specifically for sport, but for every day casual wear. The label will include apparel, shoes and accessories for men and women as a complete lifestyle statement, but aside from the brand's flagships in New York and Chicago, the line is expected to be found in department stores which do not typically carry the main Under Armour label, and have yet to be identified.
“It’s not activewear. It’s not athleisure,” Ben Pruess, Under Armour's senior vice president of sportswear tells BoF, “It’s very specific to this idea of young, ambitious, new generation of clothing.” Coppens calls the line “casual, lifestyle-directed” and promises that it will incorporate the technical innovations that the brand has pioneered in athletic wear into casual clothes for what he calls an "ambitious generation".
It's a natural brand extension for the athletic brand which is already worn as casual wear by many of its customers, but it is also the company's pitch to gain the kind of prestige that Nike and Adidas and even Puma have acquired over the years. Those brands have sub collections that are regularly found in influential fashion stores like Barneys, Opening Ceremony, Colette and Dover Street Market. They can boast of collaborations with celebrities and designers like Raf Simons, Rihanna, Pharrell Williams, Rick Owens, Undercover's Jun Takahashi, Riccardo Tisci and Olivier Rousteing, whose latest Nike collaboration happens to launch today. It remains to be seen if UAS will be able to scale those fashion heights, but including the CFDA darling Coppens will go along way toward ingratiating Under Armour to the kind of fashion insiders who are in a position to get the label in front of the customers it seeks. Under Armour has clearly been working to be counted among the likes of Nike and Adidas as a brand that goes beyond just providing quality athletic gear, and now, all we need to see is whether or not they can produce a product that will get them there.
Tim Coppens Designing New Line for Under Armour (Business of Fashion)