Dick’s Sporting Goods and Under Armour are teaming up not only to bring women’s basketball to the fore, but also to promote the female minds behind some of the eye-catching merch they sport on the court.
The sporting goods retailer teamed with the Baltimore-based athleticwear and footwear giant to jointly release the UA HOVR Breakthru, a new shoe designed specifically with the female basketball player’s feet in mind.
The new product was designed and created by a cross-section of women in the industry including other athletes and WNBA basketball players, including Under Armour athletes Bella Alarie, Kaila Charles and Tyasha “Ty” Harris. All three are rookies playing in their first WNBA season this year, signing multi-year contracts with Under Armour in July. The trio is wearing the UA HOVR Breakthru this season.
“We saw a gap in the market for a basketball shoe developed specifically for women and wanted to be able to offer this to our female customers, but needed the support from a major footwear brand to create this type of shoe,” Lauren Hobart, Dick’s Sporting Goods president, said in a statement. “We’re thrilled that Under Armour stepped up to collaborate with us and produce a shoe we’re all proud of. Our hope is that this is a big step forward on the availability of women’s athletic equipment specifically designed for her.”
The UA HOVR Breakthru will be available starting Sept. 17 in seven colorways exclusively online at dicks.com and underarmour.com and both companies’ stores nationwide for $109.99.
The shoe is the result of a year-long study of the physiological components unique to a woman’s foot. The sneaker offers greater flexibility, a narrower heel and ankle, and an arch shape specific to the female anatomy and its higher percentage of sensory receptors.
The shoe is also designed to be lighter, softer and more flexible with the same energy return of UA HOVR cushioning, yet built entirely from the ground up on a woman’s foot form for a more streamlined, anatomical fit.
The Under Armour design team, led by footwear designers Jessie Benjamin, Sasha Chaplin and Shaneika Warden, collaborated with the basketball players and partnered with female leaders at Dick’s Sporting Goods on the Breakthru assortment. The look and the colors were decided according to the athletes’ preferences.
“Under Armour is very proud to answer this call from Dick’s and our customers for a basketball shoe developed and tailored specifically with the female basketball player in mind,” said Stephanie Pugliese, president, North America, Under Armour. “This shoe was designed by a team of extraordinary women, and now we get to see incredibly talented female athletes like Bella, Kaila and Tyasha, wearing the shoe on the court this season.”
Dick’s has made it a point to make the women’s business a larger priority as it continues to seek out new avenues of growth and broaden product selection. In August last year, the sporting goods retailer launched the DSG brand, which now represents the its third-largest women’s athletic apparel brand and largest overall private brand in total. And over the past year, the company has pushed its five-year-old Calia brand as part of its overall goal to reach $2 billion in private brand sales. The workout apparel brand, designed in part by Carrie Underwood, now reels in the second-most women’s apparel sales for Dick’s Sporting Goods.
Earlier this year, Dick’s launched a marketing campaign aimed at shining a light on the development of the sports bra and how far the industry has come since 1972 upon the passing of Title IX, which prohibited sex discrimination in education and activities in colleges that receive federal funding. Additionally, Dick’s hosted the first-ever Here for Her Summit in February, where industry leaders in women’s sports came together to discuss the opportunities and challenges girls experience in accessing sports and the impact sports and fitness have had on their own lives.
This year, Dick’s has also announced multi-year partnerships with USA Softball and the U.S. Soccer Foundation on their United for Girls initiative at the event.
All these initiatives continue to build on the retailer’s positive momentum as the company bounced back from the Covid-19 pandemic in a big way. In the second quarter, as shoppers flocked to the company’s e-commerce site in conjunction with the reopened stores, Dick’s Sporting Goods took in net sales of $2.71 billion—a 20.1 percent year-over-year increase—and earnings of $276.8 million, both quarterly records.
Under Armour, on the other hand, has seen much better days, reporting a 41 percent decrease in net sales in the second quarter and incurring a net loss $182.9 million. Earlier in September, the athleticwear and footwear brand had to slash 600 jobs as part of a companywide restructuring that will cost as much as $600 million this year.
With the wholesale category comprising 58 percent of the sales declines in the second quarter, Under Armour knows it is going to have to develop more products such as the UA HOVR Breakthru that can generate guaranteed revenue and deliver high margins. The company has already had a rough time selling its excess merchandise throughout the pandemic, with total inventories increasing 24 percent to $1.2 billion.