NBR | New Zealand | 20 December 2010
Re-imagining a uniform that's been around for over a century is what got us started on our journey. All we knew at the time was that we wanted to create a modern performance alternative to the traditional gi – a uniform that would give martial arts players the same sort of performance advantage that athletes in other sports enjoy and that they'd enjoy wearing. Pretty simple really.
Many other companies in the sporting goods sector both here in New Zealand and globally have inspired us along the way. Most have quite literally been game-changers in their category. Indeed, OBO, which ranked #1 on the Exciting Companies Index, is a company we have long-admired because it epitomises what is possible when you bring new thinking, insight, design and technology to bear on the under-served needs of a global niche – in OBO's case, field hockey goalies. Many of OBO's innovations have helped enhance player performance and the company continues to maintain its market leadership by staying close to its customers and their changing needs.
US company Under Armour is another brand we have watched grow from strength to strength over the last few years and that we'd put at the top of our list of exciting companies in the global sporting goods sector.
Founded by former University of Maryland football player Kevin Plank, Under Armour also started with a simple plan. Plank's idea was to make a superior t-shirt – a performance alternative to the sweat-soaked cotton t-shirts he'd tired of wearing himself. He developed a moisture-wicking, faster-drying compression t-shirt and went out there and got athletes to believe they even needed such an alternative. Plank re-imagined what was possible. And in doing so he and his company spawned an entirely new category of sportswear – performance apparel. Forecast to reach US$6.7bn in size by 2014, performance apparel is today one of the fastest growing sectors of the global active sportswear market. Not bad for an idea born out of a sweaty t-shirt.