THE GRIT AND GLORY OF THE UNDR ARMR X DVNLLN COLLECTION
Our Chief People and Administrative Officer weighs in on the journey to creating this monumental collection.
When Tchernavia Rocker joined the Under Armour team as Chief People and Culture Officer back in early 2019, she knew there was something different about the company. For the HR executive with a nursing degree, she's built an entire career based out of "the head/heart business" that spans 20 years.
"UA had the right DNA, the right ambition, and the right team — I really wanted to help it rediscover and find itself and set it on the trajectory it deserved, both for brand and teammates."
It's been two years of clear and sound communications work from the industry vet at Under Armour. Two years that have led her to what has been some of her most impactful work yet: shepherding the internal Teammate Resource Group BEAT (Black Employees Achieving Together) and Devin Allen in their work with the UNDR ARMR x DVNLLN Collection, a performance-based style collection and labor of love.
"The BHM collection has soul, purpose. We at Under Armour empower those who strive for more, and when I think about the city of Baltimore and the youth of Baltimore, it’s a manifestation of that purpose."
People will be surprised about the collection, she adds, because of how compelling it is, the authenticity in its creation, the motivation in its existence.
"It's not just a product that looks good. It's the emotional lift that you didn’t know you needed. There’s a brightness about it."
And for Rocker, a proud Baltimore resident, it all hits close-to-new-home.
Rocker has seen many different iterations of collections like these over the years, ones that often just check a box. But there was something different, something special about this one.
"When I talk to teammates, there’s a level of excitement because they feel heard, seen, and empowered. Not in a generic way, but in a way that says that my experiences as a Black teammate, as a Black citizen in this country, in this city are valuable, while sharing that perspective safely."
When it comes to the beating heart at the center of this collection — photographer Devin Allen — Rocker has nothing but praise.
"Devin has been through so much, seen so much, and has every reason to not believe, be hopeful or inspired. This collection has had a renewing effect on his life and now on the world. He has the most at stake."
After a summer of increased national conversation around Black lives and Black equity in America, this collection seeks to meet that moment head-on, with stories about real people and their lived struggles, joys, and triumphs.
"We’re sitting at a moment in time where there was an organizational imperative for us to not just go about business as usual. And it’s an emotional journey for me because it is bringing Baltimore and all of its potential in. To see its heart and soul is exciting, and for UA to do that in an authentic way makes me proud."
The collection is already successful, she says, because it's all real. "What’s true and important is what's true to our Black teammates at Under Armour. There's nothing to prove to anyone. "