Just in my daily browsing of the web late Wednesday night as the NBA is supplying the background noise in my apartment…I came across an interesting headline backed by a quote from Stephen Curry. Saying to Sports Illustrated:
“That I shocked the shoe game. For one, I think the business that we created with the SC brand and Under Armour—and it is almost unprecedented—from starting with nothing and growing it to what it is now and hopefully what it becomes in the next five to 10 years. I take a lot of pride in what I do on the court and the opportunities that come out of that, especially with people wearing my name on their feet and their body with all of the product that we make. I took a chance with UA and UA did the same and we created something special and hopefully it lives long beyond my playing career,” – Stephen Curry
So naturally as someone with a journalism degree from a collegiate institution and someone who speaks on the footwear industry; supplying updates and opinion pieces such as this. The wheels in my head began to turn and I began to think deeper into that quote from the 2x champion and 2x league MVP. While Steph is looking for a lasting impact, one that will span generations, he’s already left a lasting one. Not just on the game of basketball but in the footwear industry as well; most certainly true with Under Armour. Lets break this down:
Back in 2013 upon signing Curry, Under Armour’s Hoops division was floundering. The roster was not so impressive; Kemba Walker had yet to come into his own professionally, Brandon Jennings never quite reached his potential, Raymond Felton was in the intermediate stage of his career and Greivis Vasquez was seen more as a Maryland hero than someone to move the needle at UA. The silhouettes were not as aesthetically appealing; most laughed at the designs and scoffed at the notion they would ever step foot in an Under Armour model. Yet something shifted.
That something was Curry’s emergence as a superstar in the NBA but Under Armour also was looking to reshape the basketball division. And Curry became the centerpiece, with his success, the brand was able to reach new heights. Opportunities for a signature athlete came storytelling ideas, new realms for branding…someone to put a face to name. Without that jump from Curry and UA’s willingness to shift direction and come into their own as a footwear brand. A move that ultimately has caused a ripple effect across the company as a whole in regards to footwear. See, Project Rock or the Sportswear division now with ASAP Rocky as a partner.
And with that comes the changing of ideals among the general public. The notion is no longer Under Armour being the proverbial “red-headed stepchild” of the performance footwear industry but it is certainly a major player now within the framework. All based on one signing, one shifting in direction. One move that proved pivotal in what became this perfect storm. Rome was not built in a day, and the brand certainly had to reconstruct its roster, its look, its feel from the ground-up. In an industry where second chances are few and far between, the resurgence is often received in a better manner than the original from the onset. Look no further than the success right now of Adidas Originals, breathing new life into the Three Stripes or Jordan Brand’s second run of retro releases that has been wildly successful for nearly two decades. So when Steph cites the SC brand starting from nothing, he is correct. Because there was no prior metric to predict that the SC brand would be successful and that Steph Curry could be the face of a brand at the time of his signing.
Certainly to reach Jordan status, it would take time to have such a lasting impact on the footwear industry. It is such rare air that Jordan is the only one there, some 14 years after his final retirement from the game. Jordan’s reign atop the footwear industry spans a solid quarter century, arguably all 30-plus years of the Air Jordan signature line. But Curry can make a lasting impact on the footwear industry as contingent upon his play on the court. Jordan seemingly did the impossible which is what made him so appealing and his sneakers just that. Curry is doing that in his own way with his three-point shooting ability and lethal handles and crossover. It appears Under Armour is beginning to crack the code when it comes to building with and around Curry when it comes to silhouettes, storytelling, dynamic launches…most notably with the Curry 4.
Only thing for Under Armour in regard to the SC signature line is to continue to build upon the momentum.