Under Armour’s new Portland, Ore.-based facility is modest in size compared with some of its athletic market counterparts. But it’s the energy and motivation to create innovative footwear within the 70,000-square-foot space that makes it stand out.
A recent tour of the location, a former YMCA, proved that not much is off limits to outsiders. Aside from taking photos from the track that sits above the main office space being prohibited because of sensitive proprietary materials sitting out in the open, documenting what the brand is doing inside is encouraged.
The building — which officially opened its doors in September — is a performance innovation center dedicated to bolstering the company’s push to become a serious footwear brand. Highlights of the facility include a biomechanics lab equipped with a 16-camera motion analysis system, a recovery room with equipment to help repair the body and an athlete performance lab (a souped-up gym with analytical equipment geared toward improving performance.)
“What’s really important is, we have everything here — biomechanics, performance training — and we’re able to connect all the dots, inform where product should go. And we are seeing the results as well. It’s an all in-house system that we haven’t had,” Under Armour chief design officer Dave Dombrow told Footwear News during the tour.
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But Under Armour already has a home in Baltimore that could house everything it has in Portland. The reasoning for opening on out West was to enlist the talent of the area and have a coast-to-coast presence.
“There’s a rich history and a deep pool of really talented people in this area, this region, and on the whole West Coast. And it gives us an opportunity to have a dual-coast offense,” explained Topher Gaylord, group general manager of Under Armour’s run division. “Baltimore is a very important epicenter of creativity and innovation, and [now we] have a West Coast hub of innovation and creation.”
With Portland up and running, Dombrow believes Under Armour is set to become a force in footwear.
“We’re making really great strides in footwear, we have really exciting product coming, whether it’s in basketball with Curry or whether it’s [running with] Hovr with the Phantom and the Sonic,” he said. “We’re going to have these staples in every category, and we’re going to be able to leverage those technologies across the board, across categories.”