The popular athletic apparel brand Under Armour made an about face this week with its announcement of a new line of performance apparel called Charged Cotton. The apparel line will include t-shirts and shorts for men and women and represents a huge step forward for cotton’s viability in the synthetic-dominated athletic apparel category.

Speaking about the collaboration, Cotton Incorporated president and CEO J. Berrye Worsham said, “Several years ago when we heard the (Under Armour slogan) ‘Cotton is the Enemy,’ it didn’t make us angry, it did make us more determined to make cotton products better (for athletic apparel). Cotton Incorporated has been thrilled to work with Under Armour to help bring Charged Cotton to consumers.”

The technology uses specially treated cotton fibers which wick away sweat just as well as synthetic shirts do. The line will be available in stores in March 2011.

The introduction of so-called technical cottons into the synthetic-dominated athletic apparel category is beneficial to multiple sectors of the supply chain. Brands are able to expand their selections with a natural fiber option, and cotton stands to gain market share in the athletic apparel category.

A recent Cotton Incorporated survey revealed that 97 percent of consumers would be willing to try cotton sports apparel that offered the same performance features as Under Armour’s synthetic brands.

The Cotton Board administers and oversees the Cotton Research and Promotion Program conducted by Cotton Incorporated and funded by America’s cotton producers and importers. The program works to increase the demand for and improve the market position of cotton. For more information about the Cotton Board, visit www.cottonboard.org.

Cotton Incorporated, funded by U.S. growers of upland cotton and importers of cotton and cotton textile products, is the research and marketing company representing upland cotton. The program is designed and operated to improve the demand for and profitability of cotton. For more information, visit www.cottoninc.com.

Here are several links regarding the announcement:

Forbes blog: http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2011/0214/focus-kevin-plank-under-armour-clothing-about-face.html.

Under Armour president and CEO Kevin Plank: http://www.cnbc.com/id/15840232/?video=1769167186&play=1.