Under Armour's new "Brand House" in SoHo is a big deal.
It's a huge, new corporate statement from a performance apparel brand that in less than two decades has become a multi-billion dollar brand that shows no signs of slowing down. Its success comes in large part from its tight stretchy t-shirts that hug every pec and ab for dear life, presented here in camouflage patterns, or with a Wu-Tang Clan emblem printed on the chest (see the gallery below). But what should all this mean to a fancypants like The Shophound? We aren't totally sure what to say about the store beyond that it feels a little bit like walking into some kind of "boot camp" fitness video, with the bulked-up mannequins serving as sentries to this fitness palace where natural fibers have been banished in favor of high-tech performance fabrics that are slippery to the touch. The hulking dummies show what a tenuous connection this particular athletic brand has with fashion. Though the store is only a few doors down from Prada, its mindset is continents away. While menswear continues to celebrate an attenuated "skinny hipster" silhouette for men, at Under Armour it's all about swelling biceps and V-shaped torsos. It's hard to imagine that even the largest size of one of Hedi Slimane's Saint Laurent blazers could fit around the shoulders and arms of these mannequins. Even the women's models are all muscled up, which makes us think that the store has been designed to extend to everyone that feeling of dread that we hear plagues women while bathing suit shopping. Thanks for sharing.
In spite of the aggressive stance of the display materials, the store was buzzing when we visited, and there were only a few customers whose shoulder/waist measurement ratio seemed to approach that of the mannequins. In the mall that is Broadway just below Houston Street, there is, apparently, something for everyone. We didn't find much for ourself at Under Armour, but, perhaps to its credit, it did discourage us from walking over to Ladurée on West Broadway to see what flavors of macarons were being offered. So that's something.
Under Armour Brand House 583 Broadway between Houston & Prince Streets, SoHo