Fulks Talks Footwear’s Future at Under Armour

Look for more innovation at Under Armour — in product, manufacturing and materials.

That was the message from COO Kip Fulks, the longtime Under Armour executive who will oversee the footwear category after the departure of footwear SVP Gene McCarthy next week.

“I’m a factory geek,” Fulks told Footwear News at an event to launch the athletic brand’s newest brand campaign and tech innovations to a crowd of media and investors in New York on Tuesday.

And while he doesn’t have deep roots in footwear, Fulks said he’s looking to attract more talent to the team in the next six months, both from inside the industry and from other industries with a strong manufacturing perspective.

Material and manufacturing will become even more important to Under Armour’s footwear story this summer, brand execs said, with the launch of an unnamed new performance running shoe that Dave Dombrow, senior creative director of footwear, called “clothes for your feet.” The new shoe, Dombrow said, won’t be manufactured in traditional footwear factories at all, and won’t use traditional materials.

“This will leverage our apparel DNA big-time,” he said.

Also at the event, CEO Kevin Plank unveiled Under Armour’s new “I Will” campaign, the first of the concentrated marketing bursts Plank is calling “brand holidays” that the company announced during the last earnings call.

The centerpiece of the “I Will” campaign is the brand’s new Armour 39 digital performance-monitoring system, a chest-strap monitor that can track movement, heart rate and calories burned and sync data to a watch or to an app on the user’s phone.

Two other brand holidays are planned for the year, timed to back-to-school and the end of year, he said.

Plank also gave a sneak peek into Under Armour Brand House, the 8000 sq.-ft. flagship store that will open in Baltimore’s Harbor East on Saturday. The location, Plank said, will tell “the complete Under Armour story and most importantly, tell it in our own voice.” The store, he said, will be a way for the brand to “learn how to be great.”

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