Plank set out to create moisture-wicking sports apparel that would keep athletes cool and dry while they exercised. After a number of attempts, he created Under Armour’s first T-shirt prototype, a form-fitting garment made from a stretchable fabric.
With the shirt design in hand, Plank maxed out his credit cards to launch Under Armour, running initial operations out of his grandmother’s basement. He began sending shirts to his former Maryland teammates who had moved on to the NFL.
Within about a year from launch, Plank made his first major apparel sale to Georgia Tech University. By 1998, Under Armour had relocated to Baltimore, where its corporate headquarters is still located today.
The company went mainstream in 1999 when Under Armour landed a contract to outfit actor Jamie Foxx and other stars in the hit football drama “Any Given Sunday.” Plank’s startup began drawing sustained interest from the professional ranks, inking deals with NFL teams and becoming the official apparel supplier of the NHL.
|UAA||UNDER ARMOUR, INC.||20.20||-0.31||-1.51%|
With sales on the rise, Under Armour went public in 2005 and began branching out into other forms of sports apparel. National marketing campaigns helped attract more consumers to the upstart brand and its unique twist on traditional workout clothes.
Under Armour broke $1 billion in annual sales for the first time in 2010. While rival Nike remains the dominant leader in the global sports apparel industry, Under Armour is a multibillion-dollar brand and one of its nearest competitors.
Plank announced plans to step down as Under Armour CEO in 2019. He remains the company’s executive chairman.