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From Double C’s to Skis, Dating Chanel’s Brief Venture into Sportswear

Welcome to the 67th insertion of DEMUR®, an analytical series highlighting the intricacies of the artistic world and the minutiae lying within. In this episode we travel to the slopes, beach, and tennis courts, uncovering Chanel’s history in sport attire.

Luxury and sport have a long history. Dating back to the 1920’s, Mademoiselle Chanel indulged briefly in ski attire, but swiftly abandoned the idea. Nearly eight decades later, in 1998, Jil Sander collaborated with Puma to release a running shoe. At the time, the crossover was unheard of, even frowned upon, but in the spirit of workwear and anti-fashion, anything was possible. Since, brands like Prada, Dior and Louis Vuitton have released their takes on the niche, but few have challenged the success of Chanel Sport.

Our first glimpse of the sub-label debuted in the late 90’s under direction of Karl Lagerfeld. Nylon was in and Chanel wasn’t to shy from it - vests, jerseys, fanny packs and even tennis balls hit the runway. The collection was unfamiliar but intriguing, and the consumer basis was torn. Miu Miu unveiled their sports line in Autumn of 1999, and was backed by Prada’s ‘Linea Rossa’ namesake. It became clear that ‘athleisure’ was here to stay, and Lagerfeld was for it.

It wouldn’t be until Autumn of 2001 that Chanel would unveil a complete ski collection, but did not disappoint. Earmuffs layered atop down fill puffers and transparent ski-goggles, while literal black quilted skis and a snowboard embarked on an uphill slope to prominence. Gloves, snow pants, and helmets walked in a chic yet unprecedented manner, cementing the brands ties to sportswear.

Few iterations of the iconic accessories would release over the following years, but Spring of 2008 reimagined Chanel Sport. Focal points of the show would include a surfboard and bicycle, the latter retailing for a measly $12,000 USD, whereas the surfboard a light $4,000 USD. Footballs and basketballs released among other items, but the triumphant fly-fishing rod caps at $18,000 USD. Additionally, in 2019 a skateboard and surfboard made waves for their combined total of over $16,000 USD.

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