We started our journey at the Nike flagship store on Fifth Avenue.
Nike's renewed focus on women in 2019 was immediately evident in the store — the entrance was lined with different female mannequins in uniforms from around the world.
The main showroom was filled with images and videos of female athletes. It felt more like walking into a museum than walking into a store.
There were different sections for different countries — some of the uniforms were on display behind glass.
But some were available for purchase. The US Women's National Soccer Team — which was sponsored by Nike — had just won the Women’s World Cup, so the store was particularly busy the day we stopped by.
We found a diagram explaining that Nike Vapor Jerseys are made with almost 100% recycled polyester.
And we found a nifty guide explaining all the perks that come with downloading the Nike app and becoming a member of NikePlus.
Upstairs, the women's section was filled with sportswear of all colors and sizes.
These pink shorts were going for $30.
We found the famous plus-size mannequin and a section of plus-size items, including a pink sports bra for $75.
We also found a great selection of yoga clothes near this mannequin in a camel pose.
The men's section had great offerings as well — this t-shirt that referenced Nike spokesperson Colin Kaepernick was $50.
A lot of the Nike store was focused on experience — there was a whole floor devoted to the Nike Sneaker Lab, where customers could get an inside look at the latest Nike designs and products. But again, this gave the store a theatrical, unattainable atmosphere. It felt like we were observing more than shopping.
There were walls upon walls of different shoe designs.
On the fifth floor, the Nike Expert Studio was providing personal services to NikePlus members.
Walking through this multicolored light tunnel to the fifth floor felt like being transported to a different dimension. In general, the whole store was focused on the experience of shopping more than anything else.
Next we walked down Fifth Avenue to Adidas' flagship store.
This Adidas store was clearly capitalizing on the classic design that made it popular.
The main room has a lot of open space, but there was a small display of the classic Stan Smith sneakers in the center.
Though the main room felt less museum-like than Nike's, it still felt a little rigid and bare.
We also couldn't find much female merchandise on the first floor, which could change after Beyoncé's Adidas athleisure line is launched.
We noticed that some items were on sale — so we went upstairs to see more clothing.
On the way upstairs, we stumbled upon a statue of Adi Dassler — the founder and creator of Adidas — looking rather pensive.
There were also a few glass-enclosed displays that highlighted real-life superheroes in New York.
The men's section was pretty basic. All of the essentials were there — plus there was a large section for shoes.
Like Nike, this Adidas store was also focused on experience. We found an area for customers to test the way they kick a soccer ball.
Nearby, we found a center to customize shirts and jerseys.
We headed downstairs to the women's section and found a floor full of sports bras, leggings, and other apparel for women.
Essentially every mannequin here was in great shape.
Most of the clothing here was pretty basic. There was a large selection of lavender items.
And we found these Pride-themed shorts for $30 ...
... as well as a huge wall full of shoes.
For the most part, Adidas didn't offer anything special outside of the experimental add-ons in the store. The merchandise fell short of our expectations and there wasn't any notable female empowerment happening either. At this point, Nike was in the lead.
Then we headed to the Under Armour Brand House in the World Trade Center.
From the get-go, we knew this wasn't going to be an experience on the scale of the flagships of Nike and Adidas — this store was one floor and significantly smaller, so we kept that in mind.
We were greeted at the front by male and female mannequins, which was a refreshing change.
Size of the store notwithstanding, there was something more relaxing about the atmosphere in Under Armour.
There were different sections for men's and women's apparel — but in general, the store seemed to flow naturally between the two sections. There were no rigid barriers between men's and women's options.
We found a section of Pride-wear as part of Under Armour's commitment to championing equality for all athletes.
There was a sale happening, so the prices were glorious. These pink sports bras caught our eyes.
We loved the colors of these leggings — at 50% off, the price was also eye-catching.
The men's section also had a good amount of options.
We found the Project Rock collection that featured Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson's line with Under Armour ...
... as well as this display for Under Armour's Rush line, which uses special fabric to maximize endurance and performance.
In the shoe section, there were comfortable-looking arm chairs for customers to sit in while trying on shoes.
This fluffy pink shoe paid homage to basketball player Dennis Smith Jr. and his exercises that helped him become one of the best jumpers in the game — he called them the "Bunny Pack."
Overall, the whole store seemed focused on providing athletes with the best clothing to perform at their best.
There was even a section of sleepwear to help athletes recover overnight.
The fitting room was filled with inspiring decor.
This image in one of the rooms evoked Rosie the Riveter — and we were big fans.
Overall, Under Armour won us over with its performance-focused display and charming merchandise. It also impressed us with its delicate balance in representing all athletes, regardless of gender. Though not as focused on experience as the Nike and Adidas stores, Under Armour still took the cake this time.