Under Armour faces many obstacles in expanding further into the footwear market, including going up against well-entrenched competitors who boast a loyal following. The company also doesn't have the money to pay big endorsement clients. Instead, the company has gone after up-and-coming athletes, such as this year's Heisman trophy winner Cam Newton, who signed a shoe and apparel deal last month.
Nike officials don't seem to be fazed by Under Armour's presence in the market. Spokesman Derek Kent pointed to Nike's relationship with top stars like Kobe Bryant and Dwayne Wade. "We thrive on competition because it always makes us better," he said.
"That said, our primary focus is on creating innovative products to give athletes an edge, helping extend our lead as the biggest, most innovative sports brand in the world," Kent added.
Other industry observers said there is room for new footwear styles if Under Armour can make the shoes that consumers want. Some suggest Under Armour continue to target young athletes, who have given the company much of its success and will hopefully grow old with the brand.
"While it is tough to break in, retailers are chomping at the bit to have an alternative brand to Nike," said Sam Poser, an analyst with Sterne Agee.
Powell said Under Armour is following the right strategy, noting the company has developed a new, proprietary technology it plans to use across all shoe categories. Powell said earlier Under Armour shoes weren't bad products, but weren't unique enough to excite buyers.
"In the past, they tried to hit a home run on the first pitch," Powell said. "And that is not how you grow the footwear business. You need a slow and steady build where you keep moving the ball forward."
Under Armour shoe debuts
Football cleat 2006
Cross trainer 2008
Running shoe Unveiled 2008; in stores 2009
Basketball shoe 2010