As retailers like JCPenney, Macy’s and Target spotlight Black-owned brands and businesses, two fitness brands are celebrating Black History Month in their own ways.
Under Armour collaborated with Baltimore artist and community leader Devin Allen for its latest collection. Two years in the making, the performance-based drop uses Allen’s photographs to capture the spirit of his hometown.
“Devin’s a great artist and photographer, so when we asked him to provide content, he overwhelmed us,” Steve Seagers, Under Armour’s senior merchant, global merchandising for Curry & Basketball, said in a statement. “Biggest priority for me was making sure that when we do this it doesn’t come across as transactional. We want this to come across as an experience—where the city is being put on a podium and a spotlight.”
In addition to a selection of apparel—the capsule features several short-sleeve T-shirts, a long-sleeve tee and a hoodie, all sporting Allen’s photography—the UNDR ARMR x DVNLLN collection includes four footwear designs.
Among these is a new colorway for the Curry Flow 8 sneaker—the first footwear release from Stephen Curry’s new Under Armour brand. Inspired by Allen’s 2017 photo book “Beautiful Ghetto,” the Curry Flow 8 “Beautiful Flow” channels the gray of Baltimore’s asphalt streets while also incorporating the colors of the Pan-African flag: black, red and green. The sockliner includes “encouraging messaging to help athletes find their path, defy the odds, and help others,” Under Armour said.
Other footwear featured in the collection include the Spawn 3 basketball sneaker, Forge RC sportstyle shoe and HOVR Phantom 2 running shoe.
Additionally, Curry, Allen and Curry Brand are teaming up with former Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith and Level 82 Fund to build an outdoor court at West Baltimore’s Hilton Recreation Center. Once a staple for youth athletics and summer camps, it has been closed for more than 10 years. These efforts—along with additional programmatic resources—will support the center reopening this summer, Under Armour said.
“My first big assignment—and my first time out of the country—was to shoot Stephen during his Asia Tour in 2015,” Allen said in a statement. “I’ve seen Stephen’s impact and how much Oakland loves him. And I’ve worked with Torrey in the Baltimore community and seen his commitment to my city so these two guys were at the top of my list when I thought about who I wanted to collaborate with for this collection.”
The UNDR ARMR x DVNLLN collection debuted Friday at Under Armour stores and on its website. Sales will help support Wide Angle Youth Media’s youth development programming, as well as summer programming at Hilton Recreation Center.
On Monday, Reebok announced the return of its Reebok Human Rights Award program. Starting this year, it will annually honor human rights activists less than 30 years old. Each honoree, who will be announced at a ceremony in June, will receive $100,000 to support them and their work. Helping revitalize the program are Alabama State University (ASU) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
The program’s reconstituted board of advisors will include former NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal; the ACLU’s executive director, Anthony Romero, and chief equity and inclusion officer, Amber Hikes; Hall of Fame rugby player, entrepreneur and ASU alumna Phaidra Knight, ASU assistant professor Regina Moorer; immigrant rights activist Sara Mora; the national director for the youth and college division at the NAACP, Tiffany Dena Loftin; and Reebok’s vice president of creative direction and founder of the fashion label Pyer Moss Kerby Jean-Raymond. Additional board members will be confirmed in the coming weeks.
The Reebok Human Rights Award program previously ran from 1988 to 2007. It has honored more than 80 recipients from nearly 40 countries, including environmentalist Winona LaDuke; Tiananmen protest leaders Li Lu, Wang Dan, Chai Ling and Wu’erkaixi; Equal Justice Initiative founder and the subject of the 2019 movie “Just Mercy” Bryan Stevenson; social justice activist and now CNN host Van Jones; and civil rights attorney and current associate attorney general nominee Vanita Gupta.
“Reebok was a pioneer in recognizing human rights work by young activists and elevating, supporting and highlighting important issues and causes,” Stevenson said in a statement. “When I received the award in 1989, I met co-awardees and inspiring advocates from China, Brazil, Northern Ireland who have become life-long partners in human rights. At a time when so many young people are doing such extraordinary work to make the world more just, equitable and safe, I’m delighted to see the revival of the Reebok Human Rights Award.”