Instead of Asking Who Isn’t, Ask Who Is | Under Armour Continues their Black History Month Celebrations
The collection launched on January 26, ahead of a monumental match-up: the third annual NBA x HBCU Classic on February 17 during NBA All-Star Weekend. For the first time ever, the game will see two Under Armour schools, Virginia Union and Winston-Salem State, go head-to-head. Both teams will be featured in Under Armour’s digital and social storytelling around the collection and will be seen sporting the looks throughout All-Star Weekend, which comes just ahead of the teams’ appearances at the CIAA Tournament hosted in Under Armour’s hometown of Baltimore, Maryland from February 26-March 3.
There is a running discourse by sneakerheads, about Nike’s lack of a Black History Month collection. As the community demands the same treatment Nike is providing to Chinese New Year and Latin Heritage Month, the community bemoans the lack of a BHM collection by the Swoosh. The reality is for the big two of Nike and adidas there isn’t a win-win situation, so the brands have resorted to supporting the communities with actions and financial incentives. In the past, both Nike and adidas received incredible backlash against designs for BHM. The sneakers created were panned by sneaker culture enthusiasts to the point in 2019 adidas had to recall their collection.
Here Sits Under Armour Doing the Work
In the last few years Under Armour has delivered a series of the best collections in the sneaker industry. The products didn’t sell through, they didn’t get covered on sneaker sites in a major way. arch did cover the collection and I’ve been discussing it extensively:
But Under Armour is doing the work and it arrives each year with support of HBCUs and an amazing HBCU Career Combine, “This program includes opportunities to learn the business, network with top UA talent, and develop leadership skills for success.” While the Black Colleges tend to be near the Baltimore area for obvious reasons, if Under Armour truly wanted to expand and develop this program, they have at their disposal the ability to work with HBCUs throughout the country and PWI Black Student Unions remotely. Sneaker Culture is becoming a self-indulgent echo chamber of brands throwing money at the culture with events which focus solely on consumerism. This is understandable as the goal is to sell sneakers. The industry is in a serious shift, however.
The next generation of athletes are becoming empowered financially and this will lead to a more conscientious consumer who is unwilling to pay exorbitant prices for sneakers unless those kicks are either sustainably made, responsibly sourced, or performance enhancing. There will always be those who need kicks to be cool. They will look to Nike for limited collabs that resale for crazy dollars, but in the next five years that market will become more niche. Brands will have to do more. Under Armour has an opportunity here, but for the collection to land, sneaker culture will have to ask the question who is vs who isn’t.