words // Nick DePaula:
In a major industry shakeup, Nike has hired away Under Armour’s top designer, Dave Dombrow.
After initially joining the brand in 2010, Dombrow most recently held the title of Senior Vice President of Design during his five years at Under Armour. In that role, he led UA in all of its statement level projects, including signature product for NBA MVP Stephen Curry, NFL MVP Cam Newton, as well as leading the Charge RC, Spine and Speedform technology launches. He also oversaw all footwear and accessory design at the company.
To many industry sources, the move is looked at as a major chess move on Nike’s part, as Under Armour continues to gain traction in the footwear business. To close out Q4 2015, UA’s shoe sales were up 95%, a ridiculous growth leap stemming from the strength of the Curry Two basketball shoe and several running models.
Later this year, Under Armour is expected to open a new Portland design center, as it takes over an old 70,000 square foot YMCA building and looks to more aggressively attack the footwear market. Of course, many expect UA to relentlessly pursue and attempt to hire many of Nike and adidas’ rising designers, that may have been uninterested in moving to UA’s Baltimore-based headquarters in past years.
Eighteen months ago, adidas hired three of Nike’s top designers, a splashy move that garnered over 22 million impressions across social media in one day, and certainly left an imprint on the Beaverton campus.
Dombrow actually began one of his first design jobs at Nike, working at the Swoosh from 2000-2003 before moving on to Puma and eventually leading Under Armour. As is the industry standard, Dave Dombrow is expected to sit out for a full year due to his non-compete clause, and begin design work at Nike in 2017.