Ami Paris is diving into Pride Month — and NFTs — with British diving champion Tom Daley, who flexed his knitting muscles for a good cause.
Daley, who caused a sensation at the Tokyo Summer Olympics last year busying himself in the stands with needles and yarn, has whipped up two original sweaters in the colorful stripes that are a symbol of gay pride: one of which will be auctioned off; the other sold as NFTs with a lottery element.
All proceeds will go to Kaleidoscope Trust, a U.K.-based charity that fights for the human rights of LGBTQ people across the Commonwealth.
“I think everyone loves a rainbow sweater, especially around Pride,” Daley enthused in an interview. “And this is something that is becoming more wearable. This is why I chose colors that are easy on the eye and easier to wear. They’re more pastel-like, less bright and bold.”
Not that Daley is shy about his clothing choices.
“Fashion to me is something really fun and a great way to express yourself,” he said. “I would describe my style as 1970s. But I also like to experiment with different styles: oversize clothes, tight-fitting clothes.
“Most importantly, I don’t like to necessarily conform with gender stereotypes,” he continued. “I think society is slowly getting away from that and it is really exciting.”
Ami Paris founder and creative director Alexandre Mattiussi said it was a thrill to collaborate with the athlete, who has racked up four Olympic medals.
“I’ve been a huge fan of his for years,” he said, revealing the collaboration exclusively to WWD. “He’s one of a kind — such a sweet, gorgeous, clever and talented guy.”
Mattiussi said he and Daley quickly settled on rainbow sweaters for this creative collaboration: one based on a cropped cable-knit from the Ami Paris fall 2022 collection; the other incorporating the brand’s Ami de Coeur logo, consisting of a capital “A” sprouting a heart.
All thumbs when it comes to knitting, Mattiussi marveled how Daley was able to integrate the logo so seamlessly.
“I have to admit it took time to get the logo right, but I had fun,” Daley confessed, noting that the cable-knit sweater was even “more difficult to achieve.”
“He’s playing with fashion in a very nice way, and he’s very curious,” Mattiussi said about the athlete. “He was sending me every step of the process on WhatsApp, including pictures of him wearing the sweater in his bathroom.”
Daley flaunts his toned tummy in photos promoting the sweaters. The one-of-a-kind Ami de Coeur Rainbow Sweater will be auctioned off online starting Saturday at Drouot.com, the site of the historic French auction house. The minimum bid is 750 euros, and the auction goes until June 14.
“Everyone will fight for this sweater,” Mattiussi predicted, confessing, “I want to have it for myself.”
Meanwhile, the Cropped Cable Jumper will be sold online as an NFT packages on June 18 during a 15-minute slot. Each are priced at 0.12 Ethereum, a crypto currency, which is roughly about 300 euros.
One of the 500 NFT packages will contain the physical sweater that was knitted by Daley; one of them comes with an invitation to the Ami Paris spring 2023 fashion show in Paris on June 23, and 10 of them include a Tom Daley Knit Kit. (Following his viral knitting moment at the Olympics, Daley launched a knitting and crochet brand called Made With Love.)
Ami Paris partnered with NFT platforms Kanji and Silver Room for the fundraising project.
All 500 of the NFT packages include an exclusive Ami Paris Pride Month T-shirt, a 3D version of the cable-knit sweater; 2D versions of the video games “Bored Apes” and “World of Women”; plus access to an exclusive Ami X Discord channel inside Silver Room, and future NFTs from Ami Paris.
Nicolas Santi-Weil, chief executive officer of Ami Paris, said he has been observing the NFT juggernaut with great interest, but “we didn’t want to rush into it, and we didn’t want to use it as a money-making tool.”
By contrast, the fundraising project with Daley offered an opportunity to use NFTs “to help a cause that’s been a longstanding value and motivation for Ami.”
Ami Paris already dipped a toe into the metaverse with a virtual Easter egg hunt last April via a video game akin to Pokémon Go. Santi-Weil said he “personally thinks it could be a game-changer,” and Ami Paris plans to use it as a tool to “go deeper with our community.”
The Tom Daley project, for example, yielded NFTs packed with meaning and reflecting the values and messages important to the brand, Santi-Weil added.
Mattiussi said employees relish its Pride Month projects, and the one with Daley has more than just celebrity zing. “He’s very engaged with LGBTQ associations. He’s really into helping lots of foundations.”
“Youth are [particularly] very important to my mission,” said Daley, who started out as an Ami Paris customer and is now consider a “friend of the house” and informal ambassador.
“Whenever you see something from the brand, you know immediately it is Ami,” according to Daley. “I love the style, the way the clothes fit — also the fact that clothes have different shapes, styles.”
He also let slip that, “I love fashion shows, so maybe you will see me in Paris soon.”
Daley said he started knitting on the advice of his diving coach, who “wanted me to find an activity where I could rest, recover and sit still.”
Daley’s husband, screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, also told him about how some people on film sets like to knit since it is so peaceful and calming.
“I thought I would give it a try and then I became obsessed with it,” he said. “It is interesting to see how people are knitting again and it is actually really fun and nice to receive pictures from people knitting and messages where they tell me they’re getting into it, too.”
Daley described an “amazing” response to his Made With Love brand, with blankets and scarves his bestselling knit kits.
“It has been really nice to be able to see everything come together and see the passion some people have for it,” he said. “I love knitting so much, it has been great to be able to pass this passion to other people.”
This fall, Daley will release his first knitting book.
“You can get both inspiration and learn how to knit: different techniques, different stitches,” he said. “There are also patterns: cardigans, jumpers, socks, scarves — you name it.”
Daley’s Made With Love e-shop is promoting its own Pride collection of knits, with all proceeds going to the charity Rainbow Railroad.
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