READY TO WIN
Byline: Rosemary Feitelberg
The sporting life is getting a serious upgrade.
Though it’s unclear whether they’re targeting the athletically or aesthetically inclined, designers are developing suitably pricy, limited-edition gear.
This spring, Gucci is catching the surfing wave. In March, Gucci logoed surfboards will be offered in the company’s stores, including New York, Los Angeles and Honolulu. Available in two standard lengths, the boards are imprinted with a nearly indistinguishable red or light blue “G.”
“You wouldn’t know it’s a G unless someone told you,” a Gucci spokeswoman said. “It’s for the over-the-top brand enthusiast, for someone who is very into the Gucci name.”
The surfboards are part of the luxury brand’s limited-edition series. Things took a horsier turn with the company’s holiday offering this year — an equestrian-friendly line consisting of a $3,650 saddle, $420 riding hat, $265 brushes, $450 stirrups, a $185 whip and a $510 horsebit and bridle. Each item carried a metal plaque engraved with “Gucci Horse.”
Unlikely as these products might seem for a label better known for its arrestingly sexy designs, they do trace back to Gucci’s roots. When the company was founded in the 1920s, it made horse saddles — a footnote not widely known by many shoppers today, the Gucci spokeswoman said.
For those less inclined to gallop, Gucci has served up other options, like a $2,200 toboggan — just the thing for stylish winter slides.
“All of these items are made with precision. They’re not fashion props; they actually function,” the Gucci spokeswoman said. “They can be used for fun, for show or for whatever.”
Louis Vuitton was also swift to get into the sports game, introducing a signature soccer ball handbag in honor of the 1998 FIFA men’s World Cup in Paris.
Last year, the company’s tres sportif gem was a signature scooter, complete with a Louis Vuitton leather pouch. Only 20 were offered in the U.S., though Ben Stiller was so crazy about cruising on a Louis Vuitton scooter during the filming of the upcoming mockumentary “Zoolander” that the company gave it to him as a gift.
Chic schussers rejoiced when Chanel teamed up with an Italian ski maker to produce signature skis to complement its skiwear, which was launched last fall. Completing the look: a Chanel ski helmet with goggles.
Like the equipment, the ski jackets and pants are performance-oriented. Made of microfiber with a Tactel finish, the gray and white skiwear has been seen off the slopes on Mariah Carey, L’il Kim and Anna Kournikova.
For the launch of the collection at last year’s fall-winter ready-to-wear show in Paris, Karl Lagerfeld sent the ski togs down the runway on models sporting heels. After all: It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you look when you play the game.