Respect Equality

Star gymnast Simone Biles leaving Nike for female-focused athletic brand

Story at a glance

  • Simone Biles is leaving her partnership with Nike to pursue one with Athleta.
  • Athleta is a women-based activewear brand owned by Gap Inc.
  • Biles’s departure comes shortly after Kobe Bryant’s estate elected not to renew his partnership with Nike.

Olympic gymnast Simone Biles is parting ways with Nike Inc. after signing on to a new partnership with Athleta that she said better aligns with her values. The move comes just days after Nike’s partnership with Kobe Bryant’s estate expired and elected not to renew.

“I felt like it wasn’t just about my achievements, it’s what I stood for and how they were going to help me use my voice and also be a voice for females and kids,” Biles said of Athleta. “I feel like they also support me, not just as an athlete, but just as an individual outside of the gym and the change that I want to create, which is so refreshing.”


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Founded in 1998 and owned by Gap Inc, Athleta is a women’s-based activewear brand that is coming to rival the likes of Lululemon. And this isn’t the first time the brand has poached a Nike athlete.

In 2019, Allyson Felix, a former Nike athlete and sprinting champion, signed with Athleta after criticizing Nike for the company for a lack of support for pregnant athletes. Nike stated the company supports women and young girls through coaching and research and that it boasts the largest roster of female athletes. The company also reiterated that it has overhauled its policies for pregnant athletes in 2019, providing pay and bonuses for 18 months, beginning eight months prior to the person’s due date.

In response to Biles’s departure, a Nike spokeswoman said, “Simone Biles is an incredible athlete and we wish her the very best … we will continue to champion, celebrate and evolve to support our female athletes.”

Biles said that Athleta committed to supporting her post-Olympics gymnastics tour, and through Athleta, Biles will work on her own line of activewear, including apparel to wear on the way to and from workouts. 

“Now that I’m older and kind of in the world a little bit more,” said Biles, “I see and I know and I learn and I grow from things, so to partner with Athleta, I think they stand for everything that I stand for … I just thought it was time for a change.”


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