One of my favourite brands.

In the whole wide world.

Is Under Armour.

So it was interesting to have a comment on my LinkedIn page this week.

From Keith Hoover.

The President of Black Swan Textiles.

And former Vice President of Manufacturing and Innovation and Development.

At the mighty Under Armour.

And Keith was taking the time to comment on something that I said!

Little old me!


Here’s what he said about what I’d written:

That’s just silly.


Silly Me. 


Here’s our full conversation:


This is really useful guidance.

For when you are next thinking about buying a piece of clothing.


Find out where, why, how and by whom the piece is made.


Knowing those things.

Consider whether you like the piece more.

Or less.


If, once you know where, why, how and by whom the piece is made.

You like it more.

Buy it.

And if, once you know where, why, how and by whom the piece is made.

You like it less.



That’s just silly.


Hello Keith.

Expand on your opinion you get a moment, please.

It’s a little echoey as it stands.

Bye for now.



Michael Owen don’t assume anything.

I’ve seen a good deal of the apparel industry around the world over a long distance of time.

I’ve also read a good deal of history, so my perspective is deeper than the here and now.

There are many problems to solve and opportunities to provide.

If you want to spend all of your time researching how your t shirt was made, then have at it.

Why limit it to clothes, however?

What about your phone?

Your toilet?

Your toilet paper?

What about the code behind your apps?

What about your food?

Your water?

Your thoughts?

It seems to me that you’re being awfully narrow and apparel centric.

You’re here for a reason and a short period of time.

If you choose to spend most of it wagging your finger rather than solving real problems through actual work (not merely being aware), then you’re wasting your life and your gift.


Hello Keith.

It’s good to hear your thoughts.

Not least because I admire Under Armour.

Anyhow, for the avoidance of doubt, I’d encourage anyone to, ‘spend time researching how their teeshirt was made.’

I believe ‘where, why, how and by whom’ a thing is made should influence buying decisions as much as aesthetic and quality.

Brand ‘values’ increasingly impact brand ‘value’.

So attention here is wise.

Particularly as finger-wagging life-wasters like little old me want to ensure brands they buy from (and into) don’t (for example) treat people like shit.

Ironically, based on your opening phrase, I don’t limit my thoughts to clothes.

Because they’re not thoughts.

They’re values.

So it’s toilet paper et al.

I’ll close in violent agreement with your endnote Keith.

I like solving problems.

Using life and gift.

And 3 brands.

My Brand Strategy Business builds brands as I describe here.

My clothing brand encourages people to buy less and buy better.

To Wear.



My blogging brand encourages people to take control of and tell their story in our short 1000 month visit.


To not try to solve problems would indeed be ‘silly’.

I’m not looking to change the world.

Just mine.

Happy Sunday Keith.



I learned a lesson.

About me.

Someone I admire had an opinion diametrically opposed to mine.

And that’s natural of course.

Because neither of us are stating facts.

We’re both just expressing opinions.

Yes, we both have experience, points of reference and even data to back up our opinions.

But they remain opinions.

And on we go.

In parallel.


It’s how I do business these days.

I am not running around trying to get those that don’t like Marmite to like Marmite.

I am not primarily trying to change your mind.

I don’t have the time.

But let there be no doubt.

I am clear about what is in my mind.

I am clear about the change I am trying to make.

And I am speaking my mind so that if you agree with me.

You can come with me.

And if you don’t.

You won’t.

It saves a lot of time.

For you.

And for me.


  1. Stuart Fearn Reply

    Hmm hope you’re doing well Michael, and I really do agree with you. Seems like an age since you spent time with my team.

    I’d be interested as to what it is about Under Armour that you admire?

    For me they’ve just become another disposable brand that’s for sale in every mass discount store TKMAXX and Sports Direct Included and I certainly wouldn’t admire that organisation for many things inc’ expecting long term anything.

    I wonder if things have changed?


    • Hello Stuart.

      I respect Under Armour from a Brand Strategy perspective.

      Because they, cleverly I think, (I am squishing all this down quite a bit, mind. And I will miss bits, too) disrupted Nike’s ‘we are all athletes’ message by encouraging us to simply ‘be the best we can be’.

      This is more of an underdog-supporting stance. So more likeable and relatable. And just – well – different to Nike. They underpinned this by supporting Andy Murray before he won anything, and Spurs when they were on the up. From 2012 to 2017 I think.

      I just like brand approaches that disrupt the category leader not by copying them (this rarely works) but by doing the opposite of them or trying to ‘repositioning’ them.

      But these days, yes, they have (in some spaces) become the status quo. And when the disruptor becomes the status quo then the strategy (or strategies) very often has to change.

      They do, as I think you may be alluding to, seem to be chasing footprint/growth rather than building a meaningful brand.

      See you soon Stuart.


  2. Excellent. I listen to you to learn about your life and ‘brand’ but this divergence of opinion by you and Keith teaches me more than just your life and ‘brand’.

    We can work in the same language, culture, sector, with the same know-how, staus and professionalism yet be operating with parallel and opposite values. I didn’t even know the parallel and opposite existed. I do now.

    Nothing will bring the two parties together but onwards they go offering totally opposite values that look exactly the same.

    I wrote this song to Boris Johnson for #EveryLifeMatters, #MicroBizMatters and #BlackLivesMatter.

    On the telly, he says he agrees all three ‘matter’ but his values are opposite to mine and so we go on in parallel – ‘sadly’ and at great cost to lives.

    That’s just like you and Keith. Thank you, Michael.

    • Hello Tony.

      As a younger man. Even more insecure, naive and confused than I am now. I’d have probably considered you to be a complete fruitcake.

      But two things have changed.

      1. I recognise brave, life-loving people in a way that I did not back then. And you are one. I think that you know how lucky we all are to be here, and that this should lead to us all treating each other better. I am learning from you.

      2. I have learned the importance and power of consistency and authenticity. And how rare it is. And you are consistently kind, storyful, interesting, bold, noisy (with things that matter and are important to you), fun, friendly, positive, smiley, admirable and clever.

      And you seem to be living your life how YOU want to live it.

      This is rarest of all. And very, very wonderful x


  3. I absolutely LOVE this Michael!

    Being values-driven, and ethical is hugely important, and we need more leaders like that.

    • Thank you Ashleigh.

      I think Keith will sell more than me. For now.

      But I do like doing things that are more value driven than commercial driven.

      It’s where my energy is.

      See you soon.


  4. Great use of your exchange with Keith here, Michael. I’m glad you stayed true to your values and didn’t roll over for someone you admire.

    I can see how Keith’s experiences in the world of apparel may have shaped his opinion and as you say both valid and neither wrong.

    My key takeaways from this are, be true to yourself no matter whether that gets you liked or disliked as we alone, opinionated and even sometimes wrong, are still enough. Also…never meet your heroes!

    Thanks for sharing,

    • Thank you Chris.

      It’s great to hear from you.

      Please keep reading – and commenting too.

      And I think you are right. There should be room for multiple opinions in most markets.

      Thanks again.


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