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This Week in Activewear

When it’s deliver-or-die, supply chains become the lifeblood of a company. To that end, the fashion industry has embraced technology to navigate today’s hyper-complicated supply chain, with myriad solutions shaping the first, middle and last mile. Call it Sourcing 2.0.

From global expansions to model endorsements, catch up on the latest headlines igniting the women’s activewear market.

Under Armour Inks Deal with Gisele Bundchen
Having cracked the men’s fitness market with the likes of Michael Phelps, Derrick Williams and Tom Brady donning its apparel and footwear, Under Armour is now taking aim at women—and it is doing it in supermodel style. The company has signed a multi-year deal with the world’s highest paid model (and Brady’s wife) Gisele Bundchen, who will appear in its biggest women’s marketing campaign to date called, “I Will What I Want.”

Bundchen made her Under Armour debut on Thursday in a 60 second film highlighting her athleticism. The footage depicts Bundchen working out, populated by real comments from critics and supporters. The same concept is applied to an online social engagement platform that streams social commentary in real time.

Since July, Under Armour has touted the campaign as “championed stories of women from various athletic backgrounds who have broken barriers to climbed to the top of their respective fields.” Bundchen joins a host of “I Will What I Want” ambassadors, including American Ballet Theater soloist Misty Copeland, world champion skier Lindsey Vonn, tennis player Sloane Stephens and U.S. Women’s National Soccer team star Kelley O’Hara.

Leanne Fremar, Under Armour women’s senior vice president and executive creative director, said, “Most women at a certain point in their life encounter contradicting opinions, expectations, praise and criticism. Having lived her life in the public eye since she began modeling at 16, Gisele knows what it means to focus inward in order to beat the noise and achieve her own goals.” She added, “Along with scaling to the heights of her profession as a model and a global fashion icon, she’s an incredibly athletic woman, dedicated to her practice of martial arts and yoga.”

Sports Authority Adds Yoga Line
Athletic apparel purveyor Sports Authority is putting an eco-friendly spin on the thriving yoga apparel market with its own collection coined Bloom, set to launch Sept. 8. Made with organic cotton, bamboo rayon and the recycled fiber Repreve, Bloom will tell a sustainable story down to its hangtags, which are printed on recycled paper.

The collection, geared toward yoga and outdoor enthusiasts age 25 to 40, includes tanks, tunics, fleece jackets and cardigans, capris and skirted pants and more equipped with moisture wicking and comfort stretch qualities. Touches of heather gray, plum, teal and subtle Chevron patterns lend a sportswear feel to the line, which is set to retail for $35 to $70. The line will be sold exclusively at Sports Authority’s 468 stores and on its website.

Sports Authority executive vice president and chief merchandising officer Stephen Binkley, said, “Yoga has been a significant growth category for Sports Authority over the past several years, and we’ve seen a trend of women looking for comfortable, functional and trend-right apparel that can be worn when practicing yoga or on the go.” He added, “The debut of this exclusive yoga line is a significant milestone for the company and we believe our customers will embrace Bloom’s look, feel and price point. We set forth to create a clothing line that is innovative, affordable and helps women stay steady and focused during their practice and in their everyday lives.”

Lululemon: Asia or Bust
Yoga apparel maker and retailer Lululemon plans to open its first full-range store in Asia by the end of the year. According to Inside Retail Asia, the Canadian company is eyeing locations in Hong Kong or Singapore. Lululemon is also planning to launch a Chinese-language website in 2015.

The company reported that it expects sales in China to eventually double those in the U.S. The store in Asia will be Lululemon’s second location outside of the U.S. A London store opened earlier this year.

International expansion may be the key to reviving the flat-lining brand’s business, which has encountered a number of struggles this past year including poor production, insensitive comments about women made by its founder Chip Wilson, leadership changes, and slipping stock prices. Lululemon’s profits plunged nearly 60 percent in the first quarter 2014. The company will announce its Q2 results on September 11.

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