Z Zegna backs Maserati bid to break Hong Kong-London sailing speed record the best way it can – with hi-tech clothing for crew

The Italian fashion house is backing Giovanni Soldini’s Hong Kong-London speed challenge in a Maserati Multi70 yacht with a special collection of technologically advanced clothing

PUBLISHED : Monday, 25 December, 2017, 12:20pm
UPDATED : Monday, 25 December, 2017, 12:19pm

Italian fashion house Ermenegildo Zegna, through its more youthful active wear Z Zegna, has teamed up with the Maserati Multi70 team in an attempt to smash the Hong Kong to London speed sailing record.

Skippered by Giovanni Soldini, the Maserati Multi70 team hopes to break the record for the historically famous Clipper Route sailing in a cutting-edge trimaran. Hoping for some marginal gains in performance, Z Zegna, with input from Soldini and his team, has created a special capsule collection with pieces designed specifically for speed sailing and a wider less technical version available to the casual sailor.

In an increasingly saturated promotional market, fashion brands are looking at more innovative and esoteric ways of appealing to their target markets. Soldini is quite frank about the association between a luxury-car manufacturer, a fashion label and his sailing team. “The customers can try the car, they can try the boat, they can try the clothes. It’s a community, really.”

The community aspect was reinforced by an open day for Maserati and Zegna’s VIP customers held at the Gold Coast Yacht & Country Club in Hong Kong in mid-December. Customers were given a chance to step on board the potentially record-breaking trimaran, test-drive some cars as well as check out the capsule collection that also includes Techmerino sneakers, bags and hats.

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Soldini’s team and Z Zegna developed the range, which debuted at the menswear show Pitti Uomo in Florence in June this year. A big feature of the collection is Z Zegna’s trademarked Techmerino fabric, an innovative fusion of Merino wool and new processing technology that dries quickly. “I showed them what we needed. It’s all about small differences, we need to move about a lot so it’s not about fashion,” Soldini says. “It’s good for Zegna to hear from us as they get insight on the technical side,” Soldini adds.

The Clipper Route speed record has become a coveted trophy in sailing, as much for the history as it is for the difficulty. In the 19th century, merchant companies built better and faster boats to sail the route from Hong Kong to London via the Cape of Good Hope as the fastest boats made their owners the most money.

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The current speed record for the Clipper Route is 41 days and 21 hours, set in 2008 by the French catamaran Gitana 13. Soldini, who already holds speed records for the Gold Route (New York to San Francisco via Cape Horn) and the Tea Clipper Trader Route (Shanghai to San Francisco), says he “would be very happy to do the route in 39 days”.