It all began with a T-shirt. Former American college football player Kevin Plank wanted a performance T-shirt that provided compression and helped regulate body temperature to ensure that the wearer could operate at their optimum level. Since it was established in the US in 1996, Under Armour has gone on to solidify its place as a manufacturer of sports performance gear, especially in the US, with partnerships across basketball, American football and baseball.
While overall performance has fluctuated in recent years, Under Armour has been gradually expanding across the world and, in 2016, it established a presence in South Africa through a distribution partnership with Apollo Brands. They now have brand stores around the country in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town, and Under Armour products are also available from other sports retailers.
And now they’re starting to introduce capsule collections and more, starting with their UA Exclusives Be Seen and HOVRTM SLK ranges
Be Seen is the first official UA Exclusives capsule collection to drop in South Africa. It includes bombers, hoodies, tracksuits, tracksuit pants and T-shirts that sit firmly in the space between the street and the sports field. UA states that “the Be Seen Collection is inspired by the gear athletes wear on their way to and from the game”.
Each piece is distinct and they’ve used materials like nylon twill, satin and velour to give the collection both a retro and a contemporary feel. Another twist is that once the Be Seen Collection is sold out, it’s sold out. It won’t be available in South Africa after that.
Another recent Under Armour drop in South Africa is the HOVR SLK, a lifestyle sneaker that is simple in aesthetic – but not simplistic – and subtle in its design cues. The upper is lightweight, ribbed textured mesh, the tongue is ‘‘air mesh’’, the sock liner is extra comfy and soft, and the colourways are subdued without being boring, making this the perfect sneaker for various looks.
While more of a lifestyle shoe, Under Armour has incorporated their HOVRTM technology (foam and mesh energy web) which is said to eliminate impact in each step you take.
All in all, a decent first foray into the SA sneaker world.