I have always appreciated the great support and platform that Under Armour has given me to represent my community, gender, and career on the world stage. However, I strongly disagree with Kevin Plank’s recent comments in support of Trump as recently reported. Those of you who have supported and followed my career know that the one topic I’ve never backed away from speaking openly about is the importance of diversity and inclusion. It is imperative to me that my partners and sponsors share this belief. I have spoken at length with Kevin privately about the matter, but as someone who takes my responsibility as a role model very seriously, it is important to me that he, and UA, take public action to clearly communicate and reflect our common values in order for us to effectively continue to work towards our shared goal of trying to motivate ALL people to be their best selves.
On Tuesday, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank visited CNBC’s “Fast Money Halftime Report” to discuss the athleticwear company’s plans to recover from sales losses. Despite L.L. Bean, Nordstrom and fellow sneaker maker New Balance’s recent Trump-related headaches, Plank used the opportunity to endorse the president’s policies. “To have such a pro-business president is something that is a real asset for the country,” Plank stated, adding, “People can really grab that opportunity.” He then proceeded to (indirectly) praise Trump’s wall proposal and infrastructure improvement bill: “He wants to build things. He wants to make bold decisions and be really decisive.” It didn’t stop there. “I’m a big fan of people that operate in the world of ‘publish and iterate’ versus ‘think, think, think, think, think,'” Plank affirmed. “So there’s a lot that I respect there.”
#Repost @underarmourwomen ・・・ Introducing the UA Inspired By Misty Copeland Collection. Designed with the style, edge and confidence to push boundaries. ⠀ Shop the collection through link in bio, then go behind the scenes at our launch event. Follow @ UA_Women on Snapchat.
A photo posted by Misty Copeland (@mistyonpointe) on
That same day, one of Under Armour’s most prominent spokespeople, ballerina Misty Copeland, launched her inaugural Under Armour collection, a 13-piece range of bold, feminine, fashion-forward “barre to bar” wear. Copeland entered the public eye back in 2014, thanks to a now-viral Under Armour commercial in which she related how, in spite of her body type, she accomplished her dream of dancing for the American Ballet Theater. Two years later, she made history as the first African-American women to become a principal dancer at the ABT. As a longtime champion of both body and racial diversity — and clearly a serious asset to Under Armour — we were especially curious as to how Copeland would handle the news.
Unsurprisingly, she, like many of the brand’s athletic spokespeople — Stephen Curry, Dwayne Johnson, Torrey Smith — chose to speak out against Plank’s remarks. On Thursday, Copeland took to Instagram with the following message: “I’ve never backed away from speaking openly about is [sic] the importance of diversity and inclusion,” she wrote. “It is imperative to me that my partners and sponsors share this belief.” Apparently, Copeland had a long chat with Plank regarding the matter and hopes the company will “take public action to clearly communicate our common values.”
As with Nordstrom, some shoppers are calling for an Under Armour boycott — after all, money talks, as evidenced by the fact that none of the company’s spokespeople, in spite of their differences of opinion, have chosen to break their endorsement deals. Both Johnson and Curry hold that “[They] feel an obligation to stand with this diverse team, the American and global workers, who are the beating heart and soul of Under Armour and the reason I chose to partner with them.” (Though, as GQ points out, nearly all of Under Armour’s merchandise is made overseas, with the exception of some specialty products in Maryland.)
In response to the controversy, Under Armour issued the following statement: “We engage in policy, not politics. We believe in advocating for fair trade, an inclusive immigration policy that welcomes the best and the brightest and those seeking opportunity in the great tradition of our country, and tax reform that drives hiring to help create new jobs globally, across America and in Baltimore.” At time of publishing, Plank has yet to personally address the backlash. We’ll be interested to see how Copeland’s collection sells, and how both the ballerina and CEO handle the matter going forward.
[ via the Cut ]