Samsung Partners With Berluti on Olympic Edition Phone Case

PARIS — In a marriage of Olympic sponsors, Samsung has partnered with Berluti on a special case for the Olympic Edition of its newly unveiled Galaxy Z Flip6 phone.

The South Korean electronics giant has been a partner of the Olympic Games since 1997, while French luxury conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Berluti’s parent company, signed on last year as a premium partner of the 2024 Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games, opening the way for a raft of activations among its stable of high-end brands.

The tie-up between Samsung and Berluti is notable as it marks the meeting between a manufacturer of mass-market electronics and a maker of bespoke luxury goods, a type of partnership pioneered by Apple and Hermès in 2015.

“We had never worked with Samsung before, but we had a meeting of the minds,” Harold Israel, vice president marketing and image at Berluti, told WWD on Thursday. 

“We share the same values of excellence and innovation,” he said in an interview at the brand’s historic store on Rue Marbeuf in Paris, opposite the workshop where it manufactures made-to-measure shoes that take nine months to complete.

When Samsung executives visited the premises, they were impressed by the complexity of the techniques employed by Berluti’s artisans. “They said it was easier to make a television than to make a pair of shoes,” Israel reported.

The Galaxy Z Flip6 smartphone, priced at $1,099.99, will be provided to nearly 17,000 athletes competing in Paris, Samsung revealed at its Galaxy Unpacked event in the French capital this week, where it also introduced innovations such as its new smart ring. 

“This will be the most stylish Olympic Edition yet,” Jamie Park, vice president and head of experience marketing group, Mobile eXperience at Samsung, said at a presentation on Thursday at the mobile phone maker’s Olympic Rendezvous space on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées.

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip6 Olympic Edition phone with a Berluti case.

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip6 Olympic Edition phone with a Berluti case.

Courtesy of Samsung

It marks the first time Samsung’s latest product is being made available to athletes before its official market launch. The phone, in a yellow colorway adorned with the Olympic rings and Paralympic Agitos logo in gold, will be pre-loaded with a selection of exclusive services and useful apps.

Berluti has designed the uniforms for Team France to wear at the opening ceremonies of the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games on July 26 and Aug. 28, respectively. Dressing the athletes’ phones was the logical next step, Israel said.

The FlipSuit case represents a melding of artisanal and high-tech techniques. It consists of a square of brown Venezia leather with a unique patina featuring a color mix inspired by the Olympic rings, but also incorporates an NFC tag to activate a matching wallpaper screen.

Samsung produced a slim plastic case that allows the leather to remain exposed so that users can appreciate its texture. 

“It was a real challenge because we are more used to making one-of-a-kind products, and we had to shift gears in order to meet the requirements of a group like Samsung, and also to deliver a certain volume by a certain date,” said Israel. 

Berluti tapped into the know-how of its production workshop in Ferrara, Italy. “There is nothing mass manufactured about our approach. We mobilized all our craftsmen to make these cases and if you look closely, they are all slightly different,” Israel noted.

At the Samsung pavilion inside the Olympic Village, specialized artisans will be on hand to personalize the cases with athletes’ names or initials using Berluti’s tattoo technique, a process using a needle and pigments to ink the leather.

In addition to being the first-ever Olympic edition to feature Galaxy AI, which includes features such as live translation of calls, the smartphone will also play a key role in another Olympic first: the victory selfie.

While winning athletes are prohibited from bringing personal belongings, including their mobile phones, to the medal ceremonies, this time around athletes will be allowed to use a shared Flip6 to capture the moment. 

Those celebrations will be shared during TV broadcasts and the selfies will be uploaded to the official International Olympic Committee Athlete 365 app. The Olympic authorities were not as resistant to the idea as one might imagine.

“Actually, there were quite supportive of this program,” Park remarked. “The IOC is taking on a more proactive attitude toward making good use of digital or social platforms going forward.”

Asked whether Samsung could collaborate with other LVMH brands in future, the executive replied: “We are still in the process of contemplating our partnership with other design houses.”

But Berluti is unlikely to be making permanent inroads into electronics — even if it does sell leather iPhone cases and Apple Watch straps on its website.

Rather, it hopes the exposure it gains during the Olympics will further raise its profile.

The house has a new chief executive officer since Jan. 1. Jean-Marc Mansvelt, the former CEO of jeweler Chaumet, succeeded Antoine Arnault, who transformed Berluti from an elite cobbler into a full-fledged men’s fashion house during his 12-year tenure and still holds the role of chairman.

“There is a desire to make the house prosper, that’s for sure, because we think it caters to men who are looking for a different, more individual way to dress,” Israel said. “We think that what we have to offer is unique on the market today.”

The uniforms Berluti designed for Team France for Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games’ opening ceremonies.

The uniforms Berluti designed for Team France for Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games’ opening ceremonies.

Kacper Kasprzyk/Courtesy of Berluti

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