Houston native and Olympian Simone Biles has dropped Nike in favor of a new deal with Athleta, a Gap Inc. brand that sells women’s activewear. Ending the Nike partnership for the Athleta partnership was announced by Biles on social media, where she shared what attracted her to the brand and thus the move away from the “swoosh.”
“They’re committed to diversity and inclusion which was really important to me in a partner. They show women and girls of all ages, sizes, abilities, races, and backgrounds and design their products that way too, “ said Biles via Instagram video.
“As I take my next step in my career, it was super important for me to align myself with a partner who supports me, not just as a gymnast or an athlete, but for the individual that I am and the change I want to create,” added Biles.
The new partnership provides Biles with the opportunity to develop her own clothing line for younger customers. Biles with also be given a platform from Athleta to support women and female athletes, according to CNBC.
Recently, Gap announced plans to expand the activewear brand internationally, starting with Canada. According to CNBC, Athleta will launch online in the Canadian market this summer, the first stop on Gap’s plans to expand the activewear brand internationally.
The international push follows company growth in the U.S. spurred in part by the brand’s growth in popularity during the pandemic as women who found themselves stuck at home were attracted to Athleta’s calling card of comfortable workout attire.
A statement about the partnership released by Athleta stated, “Biles, widely regarded as one of the greatest female athletes of all time, will connect directly with girls through Athleta’s active and engaged community to inspire honest conversations and help develop programming focused on supporting and lifting up young women and girls.”
The news of Biles’ departure from Nike comes on the heals of Kobe Bryant’s estate decision not to renew its partnership with Nike.
Biles’ move has her joining fellow Olympian and global track star, Allyson Felix, who was snagged in 2019 by Athleta after dropping Nike for what she believed was the company’s failure to provide protections for maternity health.
“Simone Biles is an incredible athlete and we wish her the very best … we will continue to champion, celebrate and evolve to support our female athletes,” A Nike spokeswoman told the Wall Street Journal.