Can A$AP Rocky Make Under Armour’s Lifestyle Products Cool?
A$AP Rocky is truly a juggernaut in the world of style and fashion. Since he burst onto the scene in 2011, he’s managed to remain ahead of the curve with his fashion choices, and the clout that he holds with the current generation of fashion-forwards youth is right up there with other massive influencers like Kanye West and Pharrell. Rocky’s got the Midas touch when it comes to making something cool … and that Midas touch is about to be subjected to its toughest test yet. Rocky recently signed on to lead the “Lifestyle” category at Under Armour, a brand that’s more known for their high-end performance gear than their street-ready fashion.
Don’t get it twisted: Rocky’s had a lot of success with collabs and creative direction before. His early-career co-sign of Jeremy Scott helped bring whimsical Adidas sneakers and gear to the masses. He almost single-handedly made Hood By Air the coolest brand of 2013 (he paid homage to himself by rapping “Hood By Air, man I started that” on his hit 2015 single “Multiply”). His collaborative capsule with Guess brought a brand that was most popular in the late 80’s/early 90’s storming back to the forefront of cool, and his role as the face of Dior brought the iconic luxury brand to a whole new audience.
Plus, he’s surrounded by creatives from his own crew that helped bring into the spotlight: A$AP Bari’s VLONE has been elevated to near-cult status through limited releases and collaborations with Nike, and A$AP Ferg has released both shoes and apparel in conjunction with Adidas. It’s safe to say that Lord Flacko has an extremely high taste level and an extremely large amount of influence in the street culture landscape.
But making Under Armour’s lifestyle products cool will undoubtedly be his toughest test yet. Performance on the court or field is one thing, but style in the streets is another beast altogether, especially for such a performance-driven brand.
When it comes to the field or the court, nobody doubts the effectiveness of Under Armour’s products, but when it comes to lifestyle, it’s not a stretch to say that there’s a lot left to be desired. Their high-end UAS (short for Under Armour Sport) line, designed by activewear guru Tim Coppens premiered at New York Fashion Week in 2016. It aimed to gain favor with style-savvy millennials, but has had almost no impact on street culture. Their most prominent athlete, Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors is not known for his style. Their gross margin, operating margins, and stock prices have been steadily declining, due to lackluster sneaker releases (Curry 3’s are on sale everywhere you look) and questionable comments from their CEO. Making Under Armor’s lifestyle products cool will be an arduous task, even for someone as skilled as A$AP Rocky
Here’s the fact of the matter: in today’s world, how a shoe or piece of apparel looks or the impression that it makes is just as important as how it performs to many a consumer. If you can’t take your shoes from the gym and turn heads when you rock them for a night out on the town … they won’t sell. How do you think Jordans became so popular? They performed well on the court and in the streets. There’s a reason we’re still wearing the same pairs over 30 years later: they’re versatile. Under Armour has been unable to tap into that crossover market thus far, and they’re hoping a style savant like Rocky can help them make the transition.
Can Rocky do it? Will his keen sense of style and eye for the next big trend bring streetwear glory to a performance brand? It’s shaping up to be a banner year for the A$AP Mob with collabs, music releases and more … so we’ll see if Lord Flacko can work a little bit of his Harlem magic on the brand from Baltimore. Only time will tell, but we’re betting it’ll be an interesting ride if nothing else. And we wouldn’t bet against him either. His track record speaks for itself.
What do you think of A$AP Rocky’s partnership with Under Armour? Do you think his clout and fashion sense will help them break into the lifestyle market, or are you of the opinion that it’s too little, too late? Hit us up and let us know on Twitter, check our Facebook page for updates, and, as always, be sure to follow us on Instagram for all the fire pictures you can handle.