We went to Nike and Under Armour to see which was a better store - and the winner was clear
Business Insider/Jessica Tyler
Business Insider/Jessica Tyler
- Under Armour has been struggling to keep up with its biggest rivals.
- The brand has made a big push to be more fashionable, but many of its efforts have missed the mark.
- Nike, on the other hand, has brand cachet that Under Armour does not.
- We visited the flagship stores for Under Armour and Nike in New York City, and it was clear why Nike's styles have become more popular.
Under Armour has been struggling to keep up with its biggest rivals.
In a 2017 Wells Fargo survey of young male consumers, 27% of survey participants ranked Under Armour favorably, compared to 81% for Nike. Under Armour's shoe sales ground to a halt last year, and basketball star Kevin Durant dissed the brand in an interview with Bill Simmons, saying,"Nobody wants to play in Under Armours, I'm sorry. The top kids don't because they all play Nike." Durant is currently endorsed by Nike.
Under Armour has struggled to make its designs more stylish in an apparel market that's dominated by athleisure trends. Nike, on the other hand, has built a cult following for its premium apparel offerings.
We visited the flagship stores for Under Armour and Nike in New York City's Soho neighborhood, and it was clear which company had a better grasp on today's styles:
My first stop was Under Armour.
The store seemed fine based on my first impression. It felt very industrial and had a big screen with athletes endorsing the brand in the entryway. I visited midday on a Tuesday, and it was pretty empty besides the employees.
As I ventured further into the store, I was underwhelmed. One thing that jumped out was how limited the selection was. There were a lot of styles, but very few colors of everything available. For the most part, everything was in the $50 to $200 range.
The store felt very repetitive as I continued walking around. One thing that was confusing was that nothing was labeled. It looked like the store was meant to be set up in different departments — golf, basketball, and so on — but women's and men's clothes and athletic gear for different sports were all mixed together.
The women's selection on the lower level was about equal in size to the men's. There were fitting rooms and registers on each floor.
Like the men's section, there was nothing particularly interesting. It was all very repetitive, and it felt like the brand missed the mark in its attempt to be more fashionable.
Under Armour is pinning its hopes of reigniting its business on its new Hovr foam sole platform. Hovr was being promoted all around the store.
Here's a look at one of the other displays.
There was another display of women's shoes downstairs. The sneakers could be connected with the Map My Run app, but the styles and colors were limited.
Even the three different styles on this wall looked nearly identical to each other.
In both the women's and men's sections, there were a handful of displays with hats, socks, backpacks, and other accessories.
I was surprised at how small the basketball section of the store was. There were a few shirts for regional teams — about one in each size.
The store had big leather chairs where customers could try on shoes, and there was a phone-charging station. However, it didn't feel like a store that I wanted to spend a lot of time in.
The Nike store, just a block away from Under Armour, was a different store entirely.
The store was bright and open. There were lines on the floor, pointing to each section of the store.
The testing facility included a unique display that had automated machines "running" on a bed of pillows.
The store had five floors, each with its own style and atmosphere. There were directories throughout the store, as well as registers and fitting rooms. The first floor had a few simple displays ...
... but the main focus was the "Athlete Testing" center, which had a treadmill surrounded by pillows, allowing shoppers to try on shoes and go for a run to test them out. People started to gather around, and there were people lined up, waiting to go for a run.
Here's another look.
There was a bigger variety than Under Armour, and it didn't feel as industrial. This bright display was on the second floor, and it showed more contemporary styles than the Under Armour displays.
Here's a display on the third floor with entirely different styles than the floor below:
This is just a fraction of the second-floor shoe display. There were sneakers lining the walls on all five floors, in all different styles and colors.
You could get almost any style of sneaker in any color, pattern, and material. There were displays like this one for almost every color.
The clothes and shoes were about equal in price to Under Armour, with most things in the $50 to $200 range.
Plus, the store was packed. I went in the middle of the day on a Tuesday and every floor had a ton of people shopping.
One of the most interesting parts of this store was the mini basketball court on the fifth floor. This was where all of the Jordan brand apparel and shoes were, and it had a basketball court to test out shoes before you buy them.
In general, Nike seemed to have more contemporary styles than Under Armour. The prices were comparable.
After visiting both stores, I found that Nike had more variety, and its clothing and sneakers seemed more fashionable. The store was a much better atmosphere to shop in and was more crowded and upbeat than Under Armour.
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