Blog: Leonie BarrieUnder Armour shuns athleisure label

Leonie Barrie | 1 August 2016

Performance footwear and apparel brand Under Armour is evolving thanks to the imminent launch of a new sportswear line that will help broaden its appeal to a more mainstream audience, and the signing of a new partnership deal with Kohl's.

While specific details on the new line are scant, the Under Armour Sportswear brand – to be called UAS – will launch in the autumn and will be more fashionable than the company’s current high-end sportswear ranges. But one thing is for sure: it is not an athleisure line.

The announcements came as Under Armour saw second-quarter revenues grow 28% to $1bn but earnings fell 58% to $74.1m, weighed down by rising costs and the liquidation of its long-standing customer The Sports Authority.

Meanwhile, a separate analysis suggests Spanish retail giant Inditex, owner of the Zara brand, is the clear winner in the fast fashion space. Despite having a higher-cost business model, its agile supply chain provides it with a sustainable competitive advantage and pricing power.

With pressure mounting on the outdoor apparel industry to eliminate hazardous chemicals from products and production processes, The North Face is using tools developed by parent company VF Corp to help it work towards its goals. And for sustainability manager James Rogers, the key to reducing overall chemical use is to take a holistic view of the entire supply chain, partnering directly with fabric mills and chemical companies as it evaluates different alternatives.

Another piece of research says China looks set to remain the powerhouse of global footwear manufacturing and a key supplier to the US – despite Vietnam gaining ground. Thanks to record consumer demand, footwear shipments into the US climbed 5.7% to 2.5bn pairs last year, and increased 6.3% by value to $27.7bn.

And a survey carried out by just-style suggests it will be at least two years before the global apparel industry fully understands the implications of last month's vote by the UK to sever ties with the European Union (EU).

The results also found that more than half of just-style readers who took part are fearful for both the short and medium-term prospects for the global apparel industry, with their confidence 'reduced' or 'significantly reduced' following the Brexit vote. And non-UK Europe respondents are the most pessimistic about the future.

The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh has cut ties with another seven ready-made garment suppliers for failing to implement workplace safety measures – and admits that 97% of all factories used by its signatory companies are behind schedule on remediation.

And a Bangladesh garment factory group has defended itself over union claims it had attempted to relocate workers and failed to make bonus payments – telling just-style the majority of the allegations are incorrect.

Vietnam's textile and apparel industry says it expects to miss its export target in 2016 due to slowing consumer demand and increased competition – and has proposed a freeze on wages to address the issues.

And a damning report into the collapse of the BHS retail chain has blamed retail tycoon Sir Philip Green for its demise. The report coincided with the announcement that all BHS stores will be closed by the end of August.

US retail giant Sears Holdings has denied reports it plans to close all of its Kmart stores and that the chain is facing bankruptcy after staff were seen moving merchandise out of the stockrooms and onto the sales floor.

And branded apparel and accessories maker G-III Apparel Group is to buy Donna Karan International from luxury goods group LVHM for US$650m. Some analysts believe the purchase price is too high relative to the brand's potential.

In other news, Gap Inc has signed up to the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI); outdoor brand Patagonia has developed its own wool standard; and Gildan Activewear is buying Peds Legwear for $55m.

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