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Under Armour describes how athletes are picked for 'signature' shoes

Jordan Spieth embarked on a global tour recently to promote the Spieth One by Under Armour. (Courtesy video)

Under Armour unveiled golf champion Jordan Spieth's first signature shoe this month.

It may have raised a question in fans' minds: Who qualifies for custom footwear bearing their name?

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The answer, according to Under Armour, is that the marketplace informs the decision.

The Baltimore apparel, footwear and fitness technology company checks in with various agencies to help it determine when an athlete has transcended their sport and commands a sizable following. Think basketball's Stephen Curry, football's Cam Newton and baseball's Bryce Harper.

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"It's everything from feedback from our retailers to comments we get directed at Under Armour, to agencies and other outfits out there — Optimum Media is one we use here, as well as Repucom and some others," said Ryan Kuehl, Under Armour's senior vice president for global sports marketing.

The agencies help the company "evaluate where that athlete is in their standing, not only in their own sport but in the whole athletics world," Kuehl said.

Of course, it's usually evident when an athlete qualifies for their own shoe line. Some Under Armour endorsers have other apparel attached to their name. For example, the company is currently selling sleepwear endorsed by New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

When Spieth — who embarked on a global tour recently to promote the Spieth One — won his second major in 2015, he seemed destined to get his own Under Armour shoe and other gear.

While Spieth was well known in the golf world, Under Armour also featured him in an ad appearing on ESPN's SportsCenter to broaden his appeal beyond the sport.

Spieth "has got such a following — it's character, performance and style — that people say, 'Yes, if it says Spieth on it, I will buy it'. And so it actually brings more people into the fold because then they'll go on and look at other stuff, too," Kuehl said.

"Does it help the athlete build a brand himself or herself? Absolutely, and that's good. We should help them build their brand," Kuehl said.

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