One's view of Baltimore varies greatly depending on the source. It's a divided city, one hit hard by economic changes over the past century. It's also diverse, with a Black population that's both underrepresented and responsible for significant outsize cultural contributions.
So when it came time to create a special capsule collection for Black History Month, the Under Armour team including but not limited to Yurri Mial, Steve Segears, Sasha Chaplin, and Jeffrey Oguamanam knew that the central theme — Baltimore — had to remain authentic. A collection two years in the making, initial brainstorms centered around "authenticity, grit and resilience": key words they believe describe Baltimore best.
For Yurri Mial, a Senior Footwear Design Manager, the design followed the tone of the city.
A project like this needed a hero, a central heartbeat, a creative lens through which to see the work unfold. For the UA team, photographer Devin Allen was always the perfect lens.
Every element of this performance-based style collection was fully thought-out: from the initial shoe mocks to the in-store experience to sharing Devin Allen's vision of Black Baltimore.
"Devin’s a great artist and photographer, so when we asked him to provide content, he overwhelmed us," Segears said. "Biggest priority for me was making sure that when we do this it doesn't come across as transactional. We want this to come across as an experience — where the city is being put on a podium and a spotlight."
The team sees both the youth of Baltimore and themselves reflected in this collection, a deeply emotional line that celebrates the underdog attitude unique to cities like Baltimore and finding a way through, no matter what.
"Seeing that one image of the milk crate hoop takes you back to childhood, that sports did bring us together. We always found a way to play," said Jeffrey Oguamanam, Lead Producer.
"It's great to see that this line is coming out, especially the way Devin has been trying to shine a light on the city in a positive manner — to bring the city closer to Under Armour, and Under Armour closer to the city — in such a natural authentic way," added Oguamanam.
Authenticity, grit, resilience; these words have set the tone for the collection. Every detail with a callback, every photo with a meaning. And these creatives made sure that, internally, people were on board.
"I helped make sure BEAT (Black Employees Achieving Together) had visibility into what’s going on," Chaplin said. "We’re all working on this collectively together, and their feedback and response means a lot to us when creating these authentic stories and collections."
This all will culminate in what will hopefully be a positive, healing experience for the youth of Baltimore and Under Armour alike.
The UNDR ARMR x DVNLLN collection will be available for purchase at UA.com and Under Armour North America Brand Houses on February 5 and helps to support Wide Angle Youth Media’s youth development programming.