Freshly home from Beijing with eight shiny new gold medals, Michael Phelps is using his fame — and endorsement dollars — to support the sport that made him a household name. On Tuesday, Joe Gromek, chief executive officer of The Warnaco Group Inc., which owns Speedo, presented Phelps with a $1 million bonus check for his victories. Phelps promptly said he would use the money to form the Michael Phelps Foundation, dedicated to growing the sport of swimming globally and encouraging active lifestyles. Here, the two discuss with WWD the impact of Phelps’ achievements.
WWD: How did you decide to use your $1 million bonus from Speedo to create the Michael Phelps Foundation? Michael Phelps: I have this opportunity to continue to try to achieve my goal of raising the sport to a new level — get new faces involved, get kids involved. I want to take them through what I did, starting with a dream, then a plan, then reaching a dream. Hopefully this will change a lot of people’s lives. Joe Gromek: Michael is going on a multicity tour of eight cities to visit Boys & Girls Clubs. Today we awarded Michael his $1 million for his seven gold medals, and, based on the fact he reached an eighth, we donated $200,000 to his foundation.
WWD: What do you wear when you are out of the pool? M.P.: Jeans, polos, button-downs, nothing too fancy. J.G.: He likes Calvin Klein Jeans and Underwear, I hear [which Warnaco makes]. M.P.: Yeah, I wear Diesel, Seven, D&G, Lacoste — that’s pretty much it.
WWD: Chlorine can take a lot out of your skin. Do you have skin care products you like? M.P.: I use Kiehl’s lotion. I don’t have much hair to wash, so I’m not picky about shampoo.
WWD: Any plans to start your own line? M.P.: We have a hat over there [with an eight on the front for the number of gold medals]. It’s one of three. Plus we have a T-shirt and a bunch of things in the works, but nothing finalized. J.G.: We’re working together on those. We introduced the T-shirt at the [U.S. Olympic] trials in Omaha and sold out immediately.
WWD: How involved were in you designing Speedo’s LZR Racer? M.P.: I was involved in finalizing everything and testing the suit. More world records were set in this Olympics for swimming than in the last two combined. It’s the fastest suit known to mankind. We looked around at one point to count, and I think there were only two guys not wearing the LZR Racer. But there’s nothing unfair about it — everyone can wear it. J.G.: In Beijing, 91 percent of gold medals were won by athletes wearing the LZR Racer. We sent 2,500 to Omaha for the Olympic trials so every American could wear it, then we sent 3,000 to Beijing. The China team switched to it. It leveled the playing field.
WWD: Can it be improved upon? J.G.: As soon as this suit hit the trials in Omaha, we started working on a new suit. When you present something of this quality, you challenge yourself to constantly improve.
WWD: If you were willing to give away $1 million today, you must be expecting more to come. What endorsement deals are you lining up? M.P.: I’m still finalizing. I haven’t had time to discuss the full details, I’ve been so busy. The biggest thing about getting involved in other companies is that it makes sense based on my lifestyle. Everything I am involved in now makes sense because I use it: Speedo, Visa, Omega, PowerBar, Hilton, Rosetta Stone, AT&T.
WWD: This Olympics proved you can still be competitive in swimming when you are 40. Do you have a plan of how long you want to compete? M.P.: I’m not going to be in this sport when I’m 40, that’s for sure. I’ve told myself that after the next four years, I will hang my suit up. I’ve been quoted to say that I will retire by 40. I would like to start the second part of my life by the time I’m 30. I’m not sure exactly what that will be, but my coach and I could have some business opportunities in the future.
WWD: With Michael’s visibility in these games and his goal to increase the profile of swimming, do you expect Speedo’s competitive swimming business will grow significantly? J.G.: Competitive swimming is a big part of the Speedo business. Since Michael has been performing this summer, our market share went from 62 to 71 percent. I think there will be lots of LZR Racers as Christmas gifts this year. Last year, we sold 10,000 of our top suit, and now we are producing 1,500 to 2,000 LZR Racers per month, though it’s $575, so it’s not for everyone.
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye