NEW YORK, United States — Under Armour and Virgin Galactic have together unveiled a collection of athleisure-inspired apparel designed to be worn by astronauts.
Comprising of a base layer, spacesuit, footwear, training suit and limited edition astronaut jacket, the groundbreaking collection, created specifically for private astronauts, is designed to ‘enrich the profound and transformative qualities of the human spaceflight experience’.
“Virgin Galactic gave us an exciting challenge to build the world’s first commercial spacesuit,” commented Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank.
“Innovation is at the core of everything we do and our team delivered a unique twist on the classic spacesuit utilizing both existing and new UA technologies to define space gear for the future. It is an incredible opportunity to showcase our key performance innovations in space at the highest level and continue to push the limits of human performance.”
Two years in the making, the collection, which received input from a wide variety of experts including doctors, astronaut trainers, pilots, apparel and footwear designers, engineers and Future Astronaut customers, is set to be worn by Virgin Galactic Mission Specialists onboard VSS Unity’s crewed test spaceflights, prior to commercial flights which are due to commence in 2020.
The athleisure-inspired spacesuits made from lightweight flight-grade fabrics, with bold and progressive aesthetics, will be personally tailored for each astronaut to include country flags and name badges. Materials used will ensure temperature regulation, moisture management and comfort while cushioning in elbows, knees and footwear will provide safety in out-of-seat zero gravity.
The unveil event in New York earlier this week showcased the spacewear system on a zero-gravity, vertical catwalk, led by Sir Richard Branson in the spacesuit he will wear on Virgin Galactic’s inaugural commercial spaceflight.
Speaking at the event, Branson said: “Spacesuits are a part of the iconography of the first space age; our visual impressions of human spaceflight and what astronauts wear are inextricably linked. Requirements for astronaut spacewear as we enter the second space age are evolving, but the design challenge has not diminished. We were delighted when Under Armour stepped up to this task and they have surpassed our expectations. I love the way the spacewear looks and I love the way it feels. I also love the fact that the next time I put it on, I will be on my way to space.”
As Under Armour founder and CEO Kevin Plank gets ready to stand down from his long-running position at the global sportswear company, the cutting-edge collaboration comes at a time when the brand’s sales have begun to shrink.
According to Fortune, analysts on Wall Street have criticised the company for being too slow to respond to the rise of athleisure — a market expected to generate $232 billion in global sales by 2024. However, Patrik Frisk, Plank’s forthcoming successor told the publication: “The brand positioning is very clear for us: we’re a performance company.” Besides, he added, people want both performance and aesthetics in their athletic wear now.
The brand’s space-related line may share some of the aesthetics that have come to dominate the athleisure category, but performance is at its core,
“We’ve been really focused on wanting athletes to perform better to push human performance,” he said. “And I think this [collaboration]is just another example of that, underscoring … this is not just a cool logo or happens to be a trend, Plank told CNBC.