Under Armour, in a significant stride to rejuvenate its brand, has officially announced the appointment of fashion veteran John Varvatos as its new Chief Design Officer. This change will come into effect from September 11.
Varvatos’ Role and Vision
John Varvatos, renowned for his rock ‘n’ roll-inspired menswear, will spearhead the company’s design direction. His responsibilities extend to:
- Overseeing design studios located in New York, Baltimore, and Portland, Oregon.
- Collaborating with the Under Armour product team to harmonize “performance and style” in their apparel, footwear, and accessories.
- Launching innovative products that cater to both sports and everyday activities, emphasizing the brand’s mission and design.
Fans and customers can eagerly anticipate the fruits of his labor, which are expected to hit the markets by the fall of 2024. Varvatos has also made noteworthy contributions to the Spring/Summer 2025 collection, showcasing his commitment to the brand’s restructuring and evolution.
A Glimpse into Varvatos’ Past
John Varvatos is no stranger to the world of fashion. His storied career includes:
- A 15-year collaboration with Converse, where he revolutionized footwear with the laceless sneaker design.
- Playing pivotal roles at Polo Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, and Converse, with credits such as the creation of the boxer brief at Calvin Klein.
- Founding the iconic namesake menswear brand, John Varvatos, a testament to his influence in the fashion world. WWD reported that while Varvatos’ brand now falls under the banner of Lion Capital, his experience with other renowned brands makes him an invaluable asset to Under Armour.
Under Armour’s Evolution
This fresh appointment isn’t Under Armour’s inaugural foray into blending fashion with functionality. A previous collaboration in 2016 with designer Tim Coppens couldn’t resonate with the brand’s core audience, who primarily sought performance products. In light of evolving market dynamics:
- Under Armour, once a fierce contender against industry giants like Adidas and Nike, has reiterated its focus on performance.
- The company has witnessed a plethora of leadership transitions. One of the most noteworthy was the installation of Stephanie Linnartz as the Chief Executive Officer in February, taking over from Patrik Frisk.
In a recent statement, Linnartz shared her enthusiasm about having Varvatos on board, highlighting his remarkable three-decade-long career. She believes that his partnership with the product team will be instrumental in the seamless transition of products from concept to commercialization.
Under Armour’s financial journey has seen its ebbs and flows:
- Reporting a growth of 3% in sales for the 12 months ending March 31, 2023.
- A slight dip with a 2% decline in sales in the subsequent quarter.
- The year 2023, however, closed on a promising note with revenues registering at US$5.9 billion, marking a 3% increment from 2022.
A Strategic Roadmap
Given the current dynamics of the sportswear industry, a brand’s ability to navigate the intricate maze of consumer preferences, technological advancements, and design innovations is imperative. For Under Armour, the blend of performance and style has been a key differentiator, but with the induction of John Varvatos, there’s an evident tilt toward fashion-forward athleticism.
Varvatos, with his decades of experience, brings a unique perspective to the table. His track record suggests an innate ability to marry traditional fashion norms with modern-day requirements. This synergy between tradition and innovation might just be the elixir that Under Armour needs to propel its growth trajectory.
Under the vigilant leadership of Linnartz, Under Armour is ardently following its strategy, “Protect This House 3.” The primary objective of this initiative is to ensure steady profitable growth, thereby amplifying returns for shareholders in the long run. The strategy is centered around:
- Enhancing global brand recognition.
- Offering elevated designs and products to boost growth, especially in the U.S. market, while also retaining global market momentum.
On his new venture with Under Armour, Varvatos expressed his excitement and commitment to elevating the brand. He perceives Under Armour as a pivotal American brand whose innovation and mission have never been more pertinent, especially when consumers are keen on versatile clothing that’s apt for both sport and regular wear. To sum it up, with the amalgamation of Under Armour’s drive for excellence and John Varvatos’ seasoned expertise, the brand is poised for a promising future in the global sportswear market, setting the stage for a potential revival in its fortunes and market positioning.