Athleta partners with its first professional athlete, attempting to redefine athletic sponsorships to compete with activewear giants.

WHAT HAPPENED: Athleta announced its partnership with runner Allyson Felix who will star in the brand’s advertising campaigns and compete in its apparel through 2020.


  • On track to reach $1 billion this year, Gap-owned Athleta has been able to build a loyal audience, growing through traditional marketing outlets—specifically mail-order product catalogues. With this partnership, as well as a heavier focus on paid social marketing, Athleta is now attempting to broaden its customer base.
  • The decision to sponsor Felix—known for her highly publicized dispute with Nike after it failed to renegotiate her contract when she became pregnant—also puts Athleta in direct competition with her former employer. Both Felix and Athleta have announced that their contract fully supports maternity leave coverage, which promotes Athleta as an empowering brand for the everyday woman.
  • Collaborating with Felix will not only help to grow Athleta’s business but could lead to steal share from Nike, repositioning Athleta from an athleisure brand to a more prominent activewear player. This will be increasingly important for Athleta to keep growing as new brands continue to emerge in the athleisure space.