By  on December 1, 2005

MILAN — Capitalizing on its sailing experience, Prada will introduce a unisex line called Luna Rossa at Pitti Uomo, the international men's wear exhibition held in Florence next month.

The sailing, sports and leisure collection is named after the America's Cup yacht controlled by Prada chief Patrizio Bertelli. Luna Rossa is gearing up for the next America's Cup challenge to be held in Valencia, Spain, in 2007, with Switzerland defending.

A capsule spring 2006 collection of the team's official uniform will be available for consumers at retail in March, and a larger rollout is planned for the fall. The uniform will bear the sponsors' names: Telecom, Italy's main telecommunications company, Prada and YCI, Italy's Yacht Club. The uniforms will be available to the public in aluminum gray, white and red, and new materials, with the introduction of the Jersey Windbreaker and Dry Fast technical fabrics.

Prada is banking on innovative high-tech fabrics tested by the sailing team. "The America's Cup has been a formidable opportunity and a unique laboratory to test new fabrics, manufacturing techniques, seams and fits in extreme conditions," according to a company statement in reference to the line.

Jersey Windbreaker, used for jackets and vests, is waterproof and abrasion-resistant. Slim-fitting, it protects the wearer from UVA rays, but is breathable. Dry Fast, used for tops and regatta pants, is a fabric made with microfibers with a high percentage of titanium dioxide and is treated with aloe vera to prevent rashes.

The collections initially will be carried by the Luna Rossa store in Valencia. Further details about prices and distribution are still being worked out.

Decorative elements embellish the cotton piqué polo shirts. The iconic red Luna Rossa stripe is embroidered on the left side of the front, below the emblem of the Italian Yacht Club. The polo shirts come in white and blue, with a red stripe.

The apparel line is licensed to Prada, as the corporation that manages the Luna Rossa boats is controlled by Maestrale Holding Srl, which is wholly owned by the Prada family, and Telecom Italia, which has a 49 percent stake.

In September 2004, Bertelli inked a deal with Telecom Italia to sponsor the new Luna Rossa sailing boat that will compete for the America's Cup in Valencia. Telecom Italia is headed by Italian tycoon Marco Tronchetti Provera, who shares a passion for sailing with Bertelli.This is the third time a Luna Rossa yacht will take part in the America's Cup. Luna Rossa won the Louis Vuitton Cup in 2000, qualifying it to race for the America's Cup. Bertelli's sailing boat then lost to Team New Zealand in a best-of-nine series of races. The sleek silver and red boat was eliminated from the Louis Vuitton Cup in New Zealand in January 2003.

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