BRITAIN’S Emma Raducanu celebrates with the trophy after winning the 2021 US Open Tennis tournament women’s final match against Canada’s Leylah Fernandez at the Usta Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York. Photo by Kena Betancur / AFP
BRITAIN’S Emma Raducanu celebrates with the trophy after winning the 2021 US Open Tennis tournament women’s final match against Canada’s Leylah Fernandez at the Usta Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York. Photo by Kena Betancur / AFP

From Dior to Tiffany & Co, Emma Raducanu is the luxury industry’s new star

By Buhle Mbonambi Time of article published Oct 30, 2021

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Many hold the belief that success comes through hard work, natural talent, beauty and luck. Sometimes the stars align for you overnight and you are suddenly an overnight success. But then we also know that there is no such thing as an overnight success (unless you’re born into wealth). It takes a lot of hard work for it to happen.

Take Emma Raducanu for instance.

The British tennis player was virtually unknown to most of the world until she had a run so great at the US Open, that she upset top seeds to win the competition. And with that came new attention. An invitation to the Met Gala, red carpet film premières and immediate luxury influencer status.

I first came across Raducanu while reading the October issue of British Vogue. The piece was written after she made history for being the first British woman in 42 years to get to the fourth round of Wimbledon. They pulled out all the stops to dress her in Alexander McQueen, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Valentino. The stylists and photographers all worked together to shine a light on Emma Raducanu – the future tennis superstar.

Edward Enninful, editor-in-chief of the magazine, is likely the fairy godparent of the tennis star. It is only after appearing in the glossy magazine that things started falling into place for Raducanu. She won the US Open and a few days later, she was at the Met Gala in Chanel.

She wore a printed monochrome cropped top, midi-length skirt and pearl-embellished belt, baring her midriff. She added the finishing touches – matching earrings and some pointed patent boots. Not bad for the 18-year-old tennis star, who had just made history by being the first-ever qualifier to win a Grand Slam tournament.

It was her Cinderella moment, one where she was welcomed with open arms and embraced by the luxury fashion industry. And then during London Fashion Week, she was announced as a Tiffany & Co, ambassador and soon after, she added French luxury house, Christian Dior to her roster.

On October 19, Raducanu was announced as a global ambassador for Dior, which came as a surprise since she wore Chanel for her first high profile red carpet event. However, when you look at the direction Dior is going in, it does make sense. We saw the fruits of the collaboration when Raducanu wore the brand at the premiere of No Time To Die, the latest James Bond movie.

EMMA Raducanu in Dior at the No Time To Die premiere in London.

The Dior contract, which sees her taking on duties as the French’s design house’s international fashion and beauty ambassador, is a confirmation of what many had predicted would happen when she started courting attention.

Already a Gen Z icon, she has a young fan base who are a key audience for luxury brands who are looking for younger consumers. Her being aligned with Dior and Tiffany’s, will keep the luxury brands top of mind for Gen Z’s and will probably also introduce a new audience to the brands. And this is an audience that will follow her every move.

She had just under 1 000 followers pre-Wimbledon debut and now has more than 2.1 million. Which translates to her brand being worth millions. Adding her model looks, youth and marketability means luxury houses will continue to do all they can to sign her.

“Raducanu has already shaken up the codes with her unique game style, multicultural personality, authenticity and extraordinary career,” said Dior’s press release announcing her as their ambassador.

The picture Emma Raducanu used to share the news that she was Tiffany & Co.’s newest ambassador on Instagram. PICTURE: Instagram/EmmaRaducanu

Jing Daily reports that her dual ancestry- her mother is Chinese, while her father is Romanian, while she was born in Canada – means that her “price will be almost incalculable should she choose to launch herself in China’s vast and profitable market. Today, given her meteoric success, she may well be luxury’s most bankable saviour — in China and beyond.”

Raducanu, the luxury Chinese publication reports: “Has drawn millions of fans in China thanks to her Chinese heritage and fluent Mandarin language skills; she has even earned the nickname “Dong Bei (north-east Chinese) girl” and gained 600 million views on a video she posted in Chinese.”

That is the global influence that her new agent Max Eisenbud, who has successfully worked with Maria Sharapova and Naomi Osaka and made them the highest earning women in sports, will use to make sure that she remains and becomes a bankable star. Her speaking Mandarin will be a plus, as Asia is a key growth market for luxury brands.

Eisenbud is considered one of the most powerful men in tennis as the vice-president at IMG sports management group and is behind Osaka’s contract with Louis Vuitton.

Speaking to Vogue about her success on and off the court, she said: “I was a very shy little girl who didn’t talk much at all. And through playing sport, and having to be bold on the court and fearless and fight, it’s given me inner strength. If you have that,” she smiles, “then you can really achieve whatever you want.”

With the world literally at her feet and her tennis ranking allowing her to play more tournaments, the stars have started aligning themselves to make sure that Raducanu becomes the sports world’s brightest. Not bad for someone who was unknown at the beginning of the year.

This article first appeared in Saturday Insider, Oct 30, 2021

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