Under Armour releases UA HOVR Breakthrough, modern basketball shoe for women by women

Under Armour makes history by releasing ‘UA HOVR Breakthrough’, the first shoe of its kind.


Courtesy of Maryland GovPics / Wikimedia Commons

The UA HOVR Breakthrough shoe will be priced at $110.00. The design is made to complement the female athlete.

Under Armour released its first basketball shoe for women on Sept. 17, 10 years after its first line of men’s basketball shoes. The shoe, called UA HOVR Breakthrough, will be sold for $110 in seven different colors. But is there really a difference? Yes, prior to this launch, all of the footwear and sportswear apparel company’s sneakers had been exclusively made to suit a man’s foot shape and arch.

According to Under Armour the UA HOVR is their first basketball shoe developed by women specifically for the female athlete, but why did it take the company so long to launch basketball shoes for women when the WNBA was established in 1996? The sports industry has continuously idolized the male athlete by catering to them and their needs both on and off the court. Meanwhile, women’s ability to acquire endorsements and sponsorships is limited. As a result of both the biggest professional sports leagues and spectatorship being predominantly male, companies restrict investments and products intended for women, given they don’t ‘see much money there.’

When ESPN aired all of the WNBA’s games its opening weekend on its two main networks, “The four-game opening weekend averaged 401,000 viewers, up 63 percent from its 2019 average viewership for the season.” Marketing the WNBA and broadcasting on main networks showed that it can pay off, but how can fans become interested in the league and watch a game when it isn’t as easy to find as the men’s? 

“The numbers show there is a market for women’s sports, and if they’re put on networks that are in more households, and easier to find, viewership will increase, ” according to Yahoo Sports.  

However, 2020 has been a time for reflecting on the past and learning how to be better. Under Armour has realized their own disservice to female athletes and are committed to change. Products like a women’s basketball shoe are part of a market that brands haven’t really tapped into. Nike dipped its feet in when creating the Air Swoopes in 1995, the Air Swoopes II in 1997 and Nike Air Zoom S5 in 1999, but it was more of a short-lived trend, with their efforts quickly subsiding in the following years. 

Although Under Armour isn’t the first brand to release a women’s basketball shoe, they are the first to release a modern basketball shoe for women. Where their top competitors such as Nike failed to innovate and sustain their efforts, or Reebook who has yet to begin, Under Armour saw an opportunity for change. 

If you search “women’s basketball shoes” on Nike’s website, your results are Kyrie’s,” “Lebron’s” and “Kobe’s” with “M/W” sizing, but they’re all made to suit the male athlete. Same thing with Reebook, if you search for “women’s basketball shoes” your results are “BB 4000 BASKETBALL SHOES,”and “QUESTION LOW MEN’S BASKETBALL SHOES,” “M/W.” Why is this? Because the design was made by men, for men. Women can wear them too, of course, but the product isn’t designed with a woman’s foot anatomy in mind. 

According to an article by Complex,“Today, women’s specific versions are rare and the signature shoe dedicated to female athletes has been completely forgotten. Almost every current WNBA player wears a shoe that was.” 

The non-existent market for women basketball players forces them to inevitably purchase men’s basketball shoes, until Under Armour took initiative. 

The design process of the UA HOVR began last fall in a pre-COVID world, so this release couldn’t be considered an economic incentive to make up for reduced retail sales. In an effort to create a shoe that would allow the female athlete to unleash their full potential with every step, Under Armour partnered with the UA biomechanics team

 Under Armour’s findings concluded that a woman’s “foot is typically narrower across the ball and heel, higher in the arch and lower in the midfoot and generally has a shorter ankle height and a smaller instep circumference. While more flexible, it also has more sensory receptors all of these critical insights when thinking through what a woman needs for running, cutting, jumping, landing, lunging and pivoting.” 

The shoe was designed specifically for the anatomy of the female hooper. Overall, this long term-project has created a space for the female basketball player. The launch is part of Under Armour’s commitment as a brand of: “loving athletes, and making things that make them legendary; standing for equality, the power of sport is fueled by every race, nationality, gender, and orientation,” and with those values in mind comes their value of creation, they pursued and did not let women athletes be forgotten. “We don’t chase culture, we create it. And we’re not going to stop now. We’re just getting started.”

The brand’s vision is to ‘inspire athletes with performance solutions they never knew they needed and can’t imagine living without,” and Under Armour did just that to women, giving them a shoe that they never knew would feel different, and feel right; a shoe that’s made for them.