May 22, 2024

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The Sports Fanatics

Lindsey Vonn Talks Head Sportswear, Thom Browne and Naomi Osaka

Entrepreneurship has become a competitive sport in itself for elite athletes, and Lindsey Vonn is no exception in chasing that pursuit.

With one Olympic gold medal and 82 World Cup wins, she is no longer vying for athletic glory, but Vonn is bullish about business. The Under Armour-sponsored athlete, who became the first global ambassador for Under Armour’s Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson-approved Project Rock in 2019, is continuing to explore the venture capital world and is also debuting her collaborative European-made “Legacy” skiwear collection with Head Sportswear Stateside.

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In an interview with WWD, Vonn discussed her design ethos, public support of tennis star Naomi Osaka, dealings with Thom Browne and longings for home.

For her collection with head, Vonn said she was inspired by a ’70s vibe, which can be seen in the oversize jackets, stretchy and contouring bell bottom-type pants and cashmere mix sweaters. Partial to classic pieces, she raved about some of the standout looks from the ’60s and ’70s. “I’m not into fads. I want pieces to last and be versatile across age groups and to last.”

Gucci, Thom Browne and Ralph Lauren are a few of Vonn’s favorite labels. In March, the Olympian skied in a 10-minute video showing off looks from Browne’s fall 2021 collection, hitting the slopes in a tuxedo and gold lamé puffer gown. “I just love his approach and he loves the Olympics. We’re very in sync with a lot of things. His suits are so classic and he adds a modern flair to it, which is kind of similar to what I do. There are timeless pieces but we add a little bit of flair with the colors,” she said.

Browne definitely approaches fashion in a different way, especially with his fashion shows, which are “more of an incredible work of art,” Vonn said, marveling at how he can take something as simple as a suit and make it incredible.

Having never personally studied design, Vonn said, “I’m pretty much like Thom Browne. I’m not much for sketching. But I know what I like and what I think looks good. I’m no Ralph Lauren. But I know from a skiing perspective, for example, what I love wearing, what looks good and I try to combine my knowledge with that of the design team and come up with something amazing.”

Her investments include the ski goggle company Yniq through which she has a signature line. A limited run sold out within three hours on Shopify, she said. She is also edging into the venture capitalist space more, serving as an advising board member to a few funds. She is a brand ambassador for Beyond Meat and the recovery technology company Hyperice. “I’m fortunate to have so many opportunities and I love working hard. I love at this stage in my career [to be] finding new adventures and challenges,” she said.

Lindsey Vonn - Credit: Courtesy of HEAD Sportswear

Lindsey Vonn – Credit: Courtesy of HEAD Sportswear

Courtesy of HEAD Sportswear

“I’m just me. I’m very authentic to who I am. I’ve never been shy about my opinion. I’m never one to say that I know everything but I have certain beliefs in certain things that I’m vocal about. I work with companies that believe in me as a person just as much as they believe in me as a brand,” said Vonn, adding that most of her sponsorships and partnerships have been for many years.

With the fall collegiate sports season in full swing, Vonn agrees with the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s decision to allow student-athletes to monetize their names and likenesses. “A lot of college athletes give up so much to be college athletes. They never make it pro, they never make any money from it and then they have to transition into something else after college,” she said. “This gives the athletes the opportunity to make money, when they really need to. So many people are profiting off of college sports. And the athletes never have been.”

As for whether social media has made individual athletes as powerful as teams, Vonn said, “It depends on the individual and on the team. You’re seeing a lot of athletes speak up more and their voices are being heard more. That’s all very positive. Just because we’re athletes doesn’t mean we don’t have an opinion or that we don’t have something to say. When used in the right way, social media can be a very positive platform to spread your message and to get your voice heard.” (She has racked up 4.6 million followers across Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, and an additional 10,000 on TikTok.)

Having publicly supported Osaka’s decision to speak openly about her mental health issues, Vonn first discussed her own struggles with depression in 2012. Referring to the widened public discussion about mental health, she said, “It’s becoming more normal. It’s great that this is the direction that we are going in. I spoke about mental health in 2012. At that time, it was not talked about. It was very foreign to everyone and it was a big thing. [Cleveland Cavaliers forward] Kevin Love’s been talking about it for a long time, as has [the most decorated Olympian of all-time, swimmer] Michael Phelps.”

“Not a lot of people understood why athletes would have mental health issues. Now it’s becoming clear why and that it is a problem,” she said. “Just having that awareness helps a lot and it also helps a lot of people to vocalize their problems [and] their issues. And we can all help each other. That’s the biggest thing with all of this. We can support each other and be open about what’s going on in our lives, and not feel ashamed or embarrassed, which is what I felt for the longest time.”

Focused on her career, Vonn said she is fortunate to have so many opportunities and loves to work hard. At this stage, the 37-year-old is rebelling in finding new challenges and new adventures.

And yet, excited as Vonn is to be doing what she’s doing, she has been running around a lot over the last few months. She said, “I wish I had a little more time at home. I love being at home with my dogs in Utah, but I’m never someone who sits still for too long. For the most part, I’m doing exactly what I want to do and I am exactly where I want to be.”

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