Gymnast Simone Biles leaves Nike to partner with Gap’s Athleta brand

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Gymnast Simone Biles leaves Nike to partner with Gap’s Athleta brand.

With Athleta, Biles will have her own performance clothing line, which will include products for wearing to and from the gym, the company said Friday.

Athleta will also give Biles a platform to be an activist for women and other female athletes.

The value of the contract has not been disclosed.

“Using my voice has given me great strength and I am grateful to begin this new journey with Athleta to inspire young girls and women to do the same,” Biles said in a statement. “I admire Athleta for their commitment to recognizing and supporting the individual and collective power of women.”

In July 2019, Gap’s Athleta banner landed its first sponsored athlete: Olympic track champion Allyson Felix. Since then, Felix has worked on her own line of running apparel and has appeared in Athleta’s marketing.

Like Biles, Felix had previously partnered with Nike. She joined at a time when the sneaker giant was criticized for not supporting pregnant athletes.

When it announced its partnership with Felix, Gap said its goal was to “turn this sponsorship model on its head” by giving athletes more support in their personal lives and giving them creative responsibilities.

Biles’ contract with Nike began in 2015, when she turned pro. Felix and Biles are expected to be two of the most prominent athletes at the Tokyo Olympics this summer.

Born in Columbus, Ohio, Biles Hold tight the most gold World Cup medals ever won by a female gymnast. The 24-year-old is also vocal about the abuse that gymnasts like themselves have suffered in the sport.

Earlier this week, Gap announced that it will soon expand its Athleta brand, which rivals Nike, Lululemon and Under Armor for women, to Canada.

Athleta aims to achieve annual sales of $2 billion by 2023. The brand passed the $1 billion mark last year, with sales up 16% from 2019 levels. Gap’s total 2020 sales were $13. 8 billion.

Gap shares rose fractionally in Friday’s premarket. The retailer’s inventory is up more than 60% this year, giving it a market value of $12.46 billion.

The Wall Street Journal reported first the news about Biles and Athleta.

It follows Nike’s partnership with basketball player Kobe Bryant’s estate, which also ended a few days earlier.

In an emailed statement, a Nike spokeswoman said the company will “continue to defend and celebrate all athletes.”

“We have always been proud of our leadership in supporting women in sport at all levels for nearly 50 years as individual athletes, through their universities, national teams or their competitive leagues,” she said.

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