Gold medalist Simone Biles
Alex Livesey | Getty Images
Gymnast Simone Biles is leaving Nike to work with Gap’s Athleta brand.
With Athleta, Biles will have its own line of performance wear, which includes products for transportation to and from the gym, the company announced on Friday.
Athleta will also give Biles a platform to be an activist for women and other female athletes.
The value of the contract was not disclosed.
“The use of my voice has empowered me a lot and I’m grateful to have embarked on 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 strengths of women.”
In July 2019, Gaps Athleta-Banner landed its first sponsored athlete: Olympic champion Allyson Felix. Since then, Felix has worked on her own line of running clothing 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 being criticized for failing to support pregnant athletes.
When Gap announced its partnership with Felix, he said his goal was to “turn this sponsorship model on its head” by giving athletes more support in their personal lives and giving them creative responsibility.
Biles’ contract with Nike began in 2015 when she turned pro. Felix and Biles are slated to be two of the most iconic athletes in the Tokyo Olympics this summer.
Biles was born in Columbus, Ohio and has the most gold medals for world championships ever won by a gymnast. The 24-year-old also commented on the abuse that gymnasts like her have suffered in sports.
Earlier this week, Gap announced that it would soon be expanding its Athleta brand, which competes with Nike, Lululemon and Under Armor for women, to Canada.
Athleta targets $ 2 billion in annual sales by 2023. The brand passed the $ 1 billion mark last year, increasing sales 16% from 2019. Gap’s total revenue in 2020 was $ 13.8 billion.
Gap stocks rose slightly on the Friday before going public. The retailer’s shares are up more than 60% this year for a market value of $ 12.46 billion.
The Wall Street Journal first covered the news about Biles and Athleta.
This is followed by Nike’s partnership with the estate of basketball player Kobe Bryant, which also ends days earlier.
In a statement sent via email, a Nike spokeswoman said the company “will continue to promote and celebrate all athletes.”
“We have always been very proud of our leadership role 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.