During his Olympic career, probably no other athlete went from being the most admired to the least admired in such a short time as gold medalist Greg Louganis. Winning gold medals in both the 1984 and 1988 Olympic games on both the springboard and platform, he was and still is considered to be one of the greatest divers ever. He’s the only male and just the second diver in Olympic history to sweep the diving events in back-to-back years and he is also the first diver ever to be granted a perfect score of 10.
But when he hit his head on a dive in 1988 and bled into the pool, it was revealed to the world at large that Louganis was both gay and HIV-positive (HIV+). He is now an active and outspoken advocate for HIV awareness and LGBT equality and has also gone on to work as a mentor for U.S. diving. And at age 56 he was chosen as a model for this year’s ESPN Magazine’s eighth annual “Body Issue.”
Now Louganis has decided to dive into the new and hot activewear industry as his latest challenge. It is currently one of the fastest growing apparel product categories with a constant stream of new products. While one might assume that the prices may fall as more competition enters to meet consumer demands, average prices are growing. That is thanks to luxury brands like Fendi entering the space and household names like Kate Hudson who are able to leverage their celebrity.
Could these market trends be what are propelling the Olympic gold medalist to start an activewear company? As an elite competitor who doesn’t shy away from a challenge, the answer is yes. He is hoping to cash in AND to give back while competing in the ever-growing fashion space.
Louganis has currently launched an IndieGoGo campaign to fund his activewear and is courting donors for $100,000 with perks ranging from a $5,000 package that includes a two-hour diving lesson along with a signed memorabilia bundle. Other perks include a $35 Greg Louganis t-shirt celebrating the 40th anniversary of his first Olympic win taking the silver medal in the 1976 Montreal games.
While the IndieGoGo campaign focuses more on Louganis’ successful diving career, it doesn’t offer any specifics regarding the line or the clothing in terms of sketches, prototypes or actual products. However, during an interview he described his line as “in development,” explaining that he hopes to start with swimwear. That seems the natural choice for someone who has had so much success in the pool. Louganis plans to offer clothing for men and women with an emphasis on fit, support and comfort. Expressing interests in yoga and dancing, he hopes to expand his brand into apparel supporting those activities and more.
But will his success in sports translate into success in fashion and business? It is possible thanks to his BFA from the University of Miami in theatre. Louganis explained that his education required him to learn all aspects of theatre, including costume design which explains his love for sketching and playing with color. He also has had successful collaborations with Speedo in the past.
Louganis has made a commitment to give back by donating a portion of the campaign’s proceeds to Crossing the Line Sports Summit and to The Point Foundation as well as promising to manufacture everything in the United States.
First pieces he hopes will be available in summer of 2017 but he has a long way to go. At the time of this writing, his campaign has raised just over $6,000 – far from his $100,000 goal. But IndieGoGo offers a flexible campaign model so the campaign receives all donated funds, even if the goal is not reached. The campaign is actively accepting donations until November 1, 2016. For more information visit: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/greg-louganis-activewear-40th-anni-1st-medal-sports-fitness–2#/
By Bobby Ciletti
Photo courtesy of Greg Louganis