Interns design basketball uniforms of the future in Under Armor’s program, which caters to young black creative talent – Baltimore Sun

Two decades from now, women basketball players could be leaping over LED-powered Plexiglas courts and wearing high-tech uniforms with compression legs that monitor health and don’t clog landfills.

Fans of games set in 2042 may wear virtual reality headsets that appear to add color and graphics to otherwise monotonous uniforms. And special jackets could help players’ muscles recover faster after games.

The ideas, developed by four of Under Armor’s summer interns during a diversity initiative the brand launched in June, remain highly conceptual.

But then again, the futuristic designs aren’t that far-fetched, said Lisa Collier, Under Amour’s chief product officer as of April 2020.

“I think the reality is, based on what we’re seeing in the world, what they’ve shown us isn’t too far off,” Collier, a veteran of brands like NYDJ (Not Your Daughter’s Jeans), Levi Strauss & Co., Dockers and The Limited said Thursday. “I think there’s a big reality there, and it’s sooner than we think.”

Collier was present Thursday at the Under Armor Brand House store in Port East in downtown Baltimore to unveil the interns’ prototype basketball uniforms.

Chosen from thousands of applicants, the college students were the first to enroll in the new Blk FUTR program, which aims to empower and develop Black creative talent. They were asked to design future women’s basketball uniforms, with prototypes to be displayed at the Brand House store.

During Thursday’s presentation, Collier said the new program aligns with the Baltimore-based sports brand’s goal of innovating and providing solutions for athletes and is one of several new diversity programs the brand has introduced in recent years. The company introduced a career preparation program at Morgan State University earlier this year to attract a more diverse workforce.

Blk FUTR will “help Under Armor become a place for future young talent to want to work because we open the avenues for that to happen early in people’s careers,” said Collier.

Reggie Wilson, a senior Footwear designer for Under Armor’s basketball/curry category and native of Baltimore came up with the idea for the program and suggested it to Collier. The acronym FUTR, which stands for For Us To Rise, was developed for Under Armor’s basketball category and used in the Flow FUTR line of basketball shoes.

Wilson worked with the interns on the designs and a video documenting their efforts. The prototypes were made with the help of Under Armor employees at the Lighthouse manufacturing facility in Port Covington.

“The brand has always been about the future,” Wilson said Thursday before introducing the rookies. “So I said I think it would be a perfect opportunity for the brand to be behind the idea of ​​a black future program.”

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In a video about the project, Wilson reiterated the importance of having Black creative talent in the workplace, which, among other things, can lead to more meaningful connections with the brand’s Black customers.

On Thursday, the interns, dubbed “rookies” at Under Armor, shared their thoughts behind the unconventional basketball uniforms. For one, they have been designing for two decades, assuming both population and pollution will increase. They said they choose sustainable clothing that is lightweight, durable, multifunctional and capable of communicating with virtual reality devices.

“We were really inspired by futuristic films like ‘Tron,’ ‘Black Panther,’ and ‘Hunger Games,’ just how the technology was embedded in the clothing,” said Desirae Webster, a Georgia intern and senior at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology , studying engineering design.

Deja Herelle, an apparel design graduate at North Carolina State University, said the interns chose a fabric that combines titanium, carbon and nitrogen and can detect muscle fatigue. Sensors knitted into the material can communicate with external devices.

Other participants included Brandi Hall from Severn, who is doing a Masters in Sports Media and Storytelling at Wake Forest University and films the Blk FUTR programme, and Brianna Calloway, who acted as the group’s project manager and said the internship gave her her first practical experience experience in a company.

“This experience was incredible,” Hall said. “Being with a brand I grew up with, I’m local, and being able to produce something at a professional level was great.”

Webster said she expects elements of her team’s design to eventually be incorporated into basketball uniforms “as we see more technology being embedded in clothing. … There are now compression-fit uniforms that we’ve seen before in other countries, so I think that idea will bear fruit in the future — maybe 20 years from now.”

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