Luxury label Vuitton deepens U.S. ties with NBA basketball deal

FILE PHOTO: Jun 17, 2019; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry shows off the Larry O’Brien trophy to fans during a parade through downtown Toronto to celebrate their NBA title. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) – LVMH’s Louis Vuitton said on Wednesday it had struck a partnership with the National Basketball Association (NBA), a major men’s professional league, as the luxury goods brand ramps up its efforts to make a splash in the United States.

Vuitton, best known for its pricey leather handbags and for dressing stars on the red carpet, will design a case to house the NBA trophy, as it has done in other sports such as tennis and soccer, and produce clothing ranges inspired by the league.

The push comes amid a drive by Vuitton – the world’s biggest luxury label by sales and the main revenue driver at its French parent group – to woo U.S. shoppers as well as young consumers.

The United States is one of the largest markets for high-end brands after China, and the tie-up marks the brand’s first partnership with a North American sports league, Vuitton said.

Like movie stars, singers or models, sports stars can also wield an influence in the world of fashion, as fans look to emulate their look or follow their every step on social media, and brands are increasingly trying to court shoppers this way.

The NBA-linked, limited edition range of clothing will be designed by Virgil Abloh, who became the first African-American to be named creative chief for menswear at Vuitton last year.

Abloh, a one-time DJ, is known for popularizing streetwear such as hoodies in luxury circles.

Vuitton manufactures the bulk of its handbags in France, but last year opened its third U.S. leather factory, in Texas. U.S. President Donald Trump attended its launch, alongside LVMH’s billionaire boss Bernard Arnault.

Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Writing by Sarah White, Editing by Dominique Vidalon, Kirsten Donovan

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