Louis Vuitton CEO Michael Burke brings the spirits of the high seas with a collection inspired by the most prestigious sporting event in the world: the America's Cup.
For Louis Vuitton chairman and CEO Michael Burke, the America’s Cup collection of leather goods and menswear—including his favorite piece, the jaunty Regatta Sneaker—is a natural extension of the brand’s long-standing partnership with the America’s Cup, which this year also debuted a new LV-designed logo.
It’s a steamy 94 degrees in Chicago on this sunny Saturday in June. Fluffy clouds dot the brilliant blue sky, but not a lick of wind ruffles the flags over Navy Pier, where thousands of sailing fans have gathered for the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Chicago.
The racing action stops while the sailors—representing six teams from around the world, including Oracle Team USA—wait for conditions to improve, but Louis Vuitton chairman and CEO Michael Burke remains unfazed. That’s because regardless of who wins this weekend, with the success of its America’s Cup Qualifiers and Challenger Playoffs—a preliminary series to see who will face off in the America’s Cup itself—Louis Vuitton has much to celebrate.
The luxury brand has had a valued partnership with the America’s Cup since 1983, when LV made the savvy proposal of a qualifying series (called the Louis Vuitton Cup until 2013) to produce a challenger and build anticipation and excitement for the grand race itself.
Day 1 racing action at the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Chicago (the Cup’s first foray into fresh water), which provided a sporty setting for wearing the brand’s America’s Cup collection.
The pairing of the two iconic brands is a natural, says Burke. “We were both born at the same time in the mid-19th century, and we’re still relevant because we embrace the same values—creativity, risk-taking, disruption, and technological innovation.”
To celebrate the 33-year relationship and even more firmly put its brand stamp on the series, Louis Vuitton has debuted the America’s Cup men’s collection, which expresses the spirit of the race in a variety of stylish pieces, ranging from chunky knitwear and cargo shorts to chic leather goods sporting the brand’s new Damier Cobalt Regatta, all with a casual flair tailor-made for dockside spectating.
“We’re not competing with extreme performance wear,” notes Burke, “but every male needs some encouragement to dress better when you’re watching the races.” Beyond the collection, the company created a custom-made travel case for the America’s Cup trophy, an exquisite work of craftsmanship that took LV artisans 400 hours to complete and whose grandeur impressively matches that of the trophy itself.
It’s an alliance that’s both smart and synergistic: Even as anticipation builds—with upcoming races in Toulon, France (September 9–11), and Fukouka, Japan (November 18–20), culminating in the Qualifiers and Challenger Playoffs, followed by the final match in Bermuda in May and June 2017—Louis Vuitton is generating buzz of its own for a second wave of the America’s Cup collection, to be launched next April. Perfect timing—and a perfect fit for two brands at the pinnacle of their game. Miami Design District, 140 NE 39th St., 305-573-1366