What is in this article?:
- “On June 9, 2009, we met very secretly and very quietly in a remote building in a remote area of their sprawling Baltimore, Md., facility. We weren’t allowed to go into their main building, but here we were, two Cotton Incorporated guys meeting with the management team at Under Armour — a company that had previously called us their enemy,” Messura says.
“Sworn enemies sometimes become best friends,” says Kevin Plank, CEO and founder of Under Armour.
Plank went on to say, “I never had anything against cotton. It’s the most popular fabric in the world, but it just didn’t work right for us. We took cotton and made it work right.”
What it really took to move quickly from foe to friend was some open and frank discussion between Cotton Incorporated and Under Armour, some very clever and creative product development, and making Under Armour lots of money.
The first cotton product that Under Armour now sells, Charged Cotton, pushed company profits up by 68 percent in the first quarter of 2011. The company sold 1.2 million Charged Cotton products from mid-March until the end of April — topping the company’s previous record for synthetic Tech T-shirts — previously their top selling t-shirt product.
In the fall of 2011, Under Armour followed up their release of Charged Cotton t-shirts with release of a line of weather resistant over-products. In their marketing campaign, the company points out sports fans will no longer need to sit in the rain wrapped in plastic or nylon. They can stay dry and stay comfortable wearing rain resistant Storm products made from cotton.
Unlike rain resistant raincoats and synthetic garments, cotton Storm products breath. While the other products can keep a person dry, they also keep a person warm, if not hot. The cotton products provide significantly more comfort, according to Under Armour promotional material.
Their latest cotton product, a weather and rain resistant fleece sweatshirt, is selling for $50-$75. Previously, they were selling a similar product made from synthetic fibers for half that price. They also are selling a weather resistant fleece ‘hoodie’ for $60-$100.
At a time when other companies were looking for less expensive alternatives to cotton for apparel products, Under Armour went a totally different direction and made it work. In the process they provided a market for cotton that wasn’t all that easy to sell in 2011.