Small brands betting in on young stars: Sloane Stephens promoting Under Armour in her stellar 2013

Before it used to be all about Nike, Adidas and other distinguished brands, but now the world of tennis fashion is much more versatile and many recognized players are wearing new and smaller brands. The most famous example of a top tennis name signing with an emerging brand is Novak Djokovic's contract with Uniqlo, but also on the women's side we have Svetlana Kuznetsova who left Fila for Qiaodan, and previously Jelena Jankovic who switched from Reebok to Anta (now she's with Fila).

However some smaller brands decide to invest in the promising players and try to take their slice of the pie in that way, by securing deals at low prices while players are still young. The most successful this year's story of an emerging brand in tennis supporting a newcomer was Sloane Stephens and her clothing sponsor Under Armour.

The 20-year-old Stephens had a breakthrough season with a near-Top 10 finish and her first Grand Slam semifinal at the Australian Open in January, after which she made her Top 20 debut. All the success came in the fourth year of her five-year deal with Under Armour which she signed as a junior prospect.

Sloane Stephens at the 2013 Australian Open

The clothing and footware sponsorship pays Stephens about $100,000 per year, but that amount will surely increase if they negotiate a new long-term agreement.

Stephens at Indian Wells

"She took a little risk on us," said Matt Mirchin, senior vice president of marketing for Under Armour. "We weren't a noted tennis brand. We made special shoes for her."

Sloane Stephens Miami 2013

Another aspect of the story which makes Under Armour's cooperation with Sloane extra lucrative is that the US was hungry for a top WTA player aside from the Williams sisters.

Sloane Charleston

Moreover, the brand's lively colors perfectly suit Stephen's youth, energy and complexion. I myself am a fan of dynamic contrasts in sports clothes, especially when someone pulls it off as well as Stephens.

Sloane in Madrid

And the plait headband is a perfect accessory, unique to Stephens!

Sloane Brussels

What do you think of Stephens' style? Do you like how she works Under Armour?

Sloane-RG

Also, do you like it that the world of tennis fashion is less and less dominated by major brands and that we have a lot of smaller companies finding their place on the market?

Sloane Wimbledon

Besides Stephens and Under Armour, which similar partnership would you point out? For me, the first comes to mind the cooperation between German Mona Barthel and American brand Denise Cronwall, which I reviewed on my blog on several occasions.

US Open 3

Visit our fashion retrospections to see what other WTA players were wearing in 2013, in particular: Ana Ivanovic (Adidas), Caroline Wozniacki (Stella McCartney), Maria Sharapova (Nike), Bethanie Mattek Sands, Serena Williams (Nike) and Venus Williams (EleVen)(photos: wadjin, © Neal Trousdale, Colombia Tennis, Hector Iribarne, Sneak Report, Mustapha Ousellam, JJ Tennis, Ralf Reinecke)

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6 thoughts on “Small brands betting in on young stars: Sloane Stephens promoting Under Armour in her stellar 2013

  1. Liz

    I think Under Armor suits Stephens very well! I absolutely love all the different colors she displayed last season and I hop they will continue this way. I also love the shoes. Thumbs up for a less known brand.

    BTW, weren't Andy Murray and Betthanie Mattek-Sands wearing Under Armor too someday?

  2. Marija Post author

    Liz, I remember Bethanie wearing Under Armour clothing, although I don't think it was an official deal, she just sometimes wore their gear.

  3. tenniz-fan

    I like the bright colors on her! I especially like Madrid, French Open and US Open dresses. Also, the shoes are nice.

  4. Marija Post author

    Tenniz-fan, thanks for the info! I can definitely include that in my boyfriends/husbands series!

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