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Friday, October 31, 2008

Part 4 Under Armour

Under Armour is an interesting company. Their situation is quite different from the others I am discussing because they are still a young entity and have been quite cautious about their growth. Many times they have been reluctant to put the cart before the horse and other times they have gone all out. To date, they still have not released Under Armour lacrosse uniforms for private club/team sales nor do they have readily available UA replicas of the NCAA lax teams they sponsor.

Yet, they were a featured sponsor in the movies "Any Given Sunday" and "The Replacements," which came out in their infancy. The logos are quite different from the current crop, but there is no mistaking what Jamie Foxx, Orlando Jones and their respective crews are wearing.

Essentially based on pantyhose, the fact the UA is still around is amazing. When the shirts were first brought to Maryland football players, they were tested with some skepticism. When they worked, they spread like wildfire. Before too long, all performance compression apparel became colloquially known as "Under Armour," even if it was made by other suppliers like Nike. When it became commercially available, UA really took off. Many have adopted their compression shorts and boxer jocks as everyday underwear. Their compression shirts are viewed as more comfortable than classic cotton tees under dress shirts.

The company was well known for its under apparel, but managed to have great success when they began producing outerwear as well. Their neoclassic intersecting UA logo is almost as well known as Nike's Swoosh. But it would be their venture into football cleats and the infamous "click-clack" and "our house" slogans that would truly put the company on the map.
Nobody expected their cleats to go anywhere. Not only did they prove popular with UA afficiandos, but the were a hit with the pros. UA became the third approved NFL cleat in the Reebok era after Nike and Reebok (UA beat Adidas to approved status by over a year). Not long after, baseball cleats debuted and their shoes appeared on lacrosse fields.

UA has since released training and running shoes and soccer uniforms. Soccer cleats will appear within the next couple of years. More and more schools are wearing UA football uniforms and Maryland became the first school to have EVERY sport sponsored by UA.

Already a presence in the performance apparel, bag, shoe, and NCAA lacrosse markets, UA will most likely make their equipment debut in lacrosse. Football, baseball, and soccer are over saturated with equipment suppliers and UA knows they have a strong presence and respect in the lax world due to their Maryland connections.

Although they tend to build rather than acquire, in this expansion they lack the technology and equipment to efficiently build from the ground up. Most likely, they will buy a smaller, but successful company like Maverik, Scorpion, or Serpent. It is also conceivable that UA would purchase Louisville before or after that brand enters the lacrosse fray. UA has yet to enter the hockey world in any real capacity, but a foothold in lacrosse would indicate some ice time on the horizon. Expect it around 2012. Click-clack.

Continue to Part 5

Tribe 7