Dave Dombrow, the high-profile designer behind many of Under Armour’s hit sneaker franchises, has left the athletic giant — again.
Dombrow is largely credited with creating the Baltimore-based firm’s popular line of basketball sneakers for NBA superstar Stephen Curry, as well as getting the company on track in the running category with such launches as the Charge RC, Speedform Apollo and Gemini.
It’s not the first time that Dombrow has departed Under Armour. In early 2016, the design force exited the brand for archrival Nike, where he had worked earlier in his career. (Before that, he had also once worked for Puma.)
But in a highly unusual move, Dombrow — who was slated to join Nike in 2017 to comply with standard noncompete practices — returned to Under Armour less than three months later. He was appointed to the newly created role of chief design officer.
Dombrow had been on the corporate fast track at the Kevin Plank-run Under Armour since arriving at the firm in 2010. He rose from senior creative director of footwear to VP and creative director. Then, in 2014, he was promoted again, to SVP of design.
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He said in a statement at the time: “I continue to be humbled and amazed by what we have built together, fueled by the core commitment to innovation and design, as well as the entrepreneurial drive to make all athletes better. I can’t wait to help create our next chapter.”
“Most of it came down to design and innovation, which are key pillars of Under Armour,” the designer later told FN exclusively. “I have a long-standing relationship with [Under Armour chief marketing officer] Kip Fulks. I’ve worked with him for many years — pretty much the entire time I’ve been at Under Armour. He places a strong value on design and innovation. He’s taken an expanded role within Under Armour. So the combination of that and [founder and CEO] Kevin Plank’s commitment toward design and innovation eventually got me to return.”
Under Armour has not responded to a request for comment on Dombrow’s departure, but a receptionist did confirm “he’s no longer a team member.”
In recent years, Under Armour has faced talent retention issues.
Several executive departures led analysts to question the company culture and Plank’s leadership style.
But in an FN exclusive last month, the founder addressed the issue.
“Of our executive team, a third have been here five years or less,” Plank said. “A third have been here between five and 10 years, and a third have been here for about 10-plus years. I think that’s healthy in any industry.”
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