Today, Athleta's fitness apparel brand announced that it is the newest sponsor of the Olympic Sprinter . Allyson Felix . Felix has been without a sponsor since the end of her contract with Nike in December 2017. She even ran unbound at the last USATF outdoor championships (though she told SELF that she actually wore Athleta in her SuperSonic compression fabric while competing). Felix is Athletas first sponsored athlete.
Felix was in negotiations with Nike until recently, including in May when she wrote a New York Times and appeared in a related video asking Nike and the sportswear industry to present their athletes during their Pregnancy and to pay for the birth during recovery. She was one of several runners, including sprinter Alysia Montaño and marathon runner Kara Goucher, who reported on the financial consequences of her pregnancy. Due to the commitment of the athletes, Nike recently announced that the new contracts for women athletes will include a language that protects their pay during pregnancy. However, in of our July cover story Felix's agent and brother Wes Felix told us that Felix was no longer negotiating with Nike, saying that she had decided to look for a new clothing sponsor, and that "she It wants to partner with a brand that they believe puts women at the center of their business. Athleta (a trademark of Gap Inc.) describes itself as a company that manufactures apparel by women athletes and conducts several women-oriented campaigns and initiatives, including The Power of She and Athleta Girls.
Sheila Shekar Pollak, Athleta's Chief Marketing Officer, noted that Felix Times played a crucial role in why the company wanted a partnership with the athlete. "A few months ago, we talked about how we can really make deeper, more holistic and meaningful partnerships with some of these athletes," Shekar Pollak told SELF. "And that was just coincidence when Allyson really took her position – we all read the video and looked at each other and were just so moved. As athletes and as mothers, it has been very personally involved. And so we immediately picked up the phone and the journey has been really magical ever since.
Felix justified her decision to partner with Athleta by saying that the new partnership was "the redefinition of sponsorship". "Normally, the industry norm is: you're an athlete and it all depends on your performance," Felix said to SELF. "It's really about numbers, world championship teams, Olympic teams, and it all depends on how good your numbers look and you'll be rewarded. This is a completely different approach. As a mother, as an activist, all these different parts of me I am more than a sportswoman. And it's amazing to be supported in this way and to be able to work together and create things, reconcile values and do more than just perform.
Her Times op-ed hasn & # 39; It was not the only way Felix used their platform to talk about things that mattered to her. She also draws attention to the black mothers' mortality crisis – the United States is the only developed nation with a growing maternal mortality rate, and black women die three to four times more than their white counterparts because of pregnancy and childbirth. Felix became passionately aware of the problem when she had complications following her own life-threatening pregnancy when she had a Caesarean section due to a severe pre-eclampsia at the 32nd week of pregnancy. In May, she testified before the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives on a panel dealing with racial disparities in maternal health care. Just this week Felix distinguished himself as our July cover star for our . Black Maternal Mortality Issue Part of an ongoing series dealing with the health crisis.
Felix also noted that her multi-year Athleta contract provides for maternity protection since she is paid 100% throughout her contract, "no matter what I decide to do in terms of pregnancy. "That's amazing and I hope others follow suit," Felix said.
As part of the partnership, Felix will participate in marketing campaigns and be involved in the design and creation of apparel, both as an elite athlete performing tests, as well as providing feedback on technical equipment and co-developing a co-branded capsule collection , "We are excited to partner with Allyson on our high performance running and training product and to be able to gain her expertise and insights on what she really needs to do her best, give her best and do her best to give, "said Shekar Pollak.
Felix is still working on the details of her shoe sponsor, but she told SELF she has no updates to share on this front. Meanwhile, she is focusing on her new Athleta partnership and is considering a ninth World Cup appearance in Doha, Qatar, in September (she finished sixth at 400 meters in the national USATF championships and qualified for a place on the 4 x 400 meter relay) as well as the messages she wants to share as an athlete and activist. "When I think about my heritage and what I want to leave behind, this is really the work I want to do," she said. "I can influence the sport or the problems that women face. This partnership is really crucial. "