Tennis star Naomi Osaka has a new title.
The Japanese-American athlete, who has won both the U.S. Open and Australian Open, has been named Louis Vuitton’s new House ambassador. Osaka officially made her debut in the brand’s spring 2021 campaign — shot by creative director Nicolas Ghesquiére — wearing a multicolored minidress and the brand’s monogram canvas bag.
For Osaka, the role is a “dream come true.” In a statement, the 23-year-old shared: “Aside from tennis, my most treasured passion is fashion; and there is no brand more iconic than Louis Vuitton. It is such an honor to work with Nicolas — he’s a designer I admire so much and we share a mutual love of Japanese culture and style. To become a global brand ambassador is truly a dream come true for me.”
Ghesquiére echoed similar sentiments, saying: “Naomi is an exceptional woman who represents her generation and is also a role model for everyone. Her career and convictions are inspiring. I am in awe of Naomi she stays true to herself and doesn’t compromise her values.”
With the fashion world reckoning with its role in racism and a not-so-diverse past, Osaka perfectly aligns with what many hope the industry will look like in the future: passionate, dynamic and inclusive.
Since coming onto the scene, Osaka — whose mother is Japanese and father is Haitian, has lead with intention. The young athlete hasn’t shied away from speaking out about social justice issues, specifically the Black Lives Matter movement. On day one of the U.S. Open in September, Osaka drew attention to the killing of Breonna Taylor by wearing a face mask adorned with her name — and she didn’t stop there. Just one month earlier, Osaka revealed her intention of withdrawing from the semifinal of the Western and Southern Open following the shooting of Jacob Blake on Aug. 23, 2020.
“As a Black woman I feel as though there are much more important matters at hand that need immediate attention, rather than watching me play tennis,” Osaka wrote on Twitter on Aug. 26 at the time. “I don’t expect anything drastic to happen with me not playing, but if I can get a conversation started in a majority white sport I consider that a step in the right direction.”
Additionally, Osaka and Nike teamed up to launch Play Academy with Naomi Osaka — a girls-only sports program in partnership with Nike and Laureus Sport for Good. The grassroots program, Osaka said in an op-ed, aims to “level the playing field by changing the game for girls.”
Osaka has also used her platform to highlight her culture and other Black designers. To collect her trophy at the U.S. Open, Osaka sported a headwrap made from Ghanian kente cloth, and in November she shared an Instagram photo of herself posing in a vibrant yellow dress from Pyer Moss’ spring 2020 collection. Osaka simply captioned the post with the Haitian flag emoji, a nod to her background and that of Pyer Moss’ designer Kerby Jean-Raymond, who is Haitian-American.
Osaka’s knack for and influence on style is undeniable. In August last year, Osaka revealed her latest collaboration with Nike and Comme des Garçons, which was released in November. The classic shoe takes the Nike Blazer Mid and gives it a new twist with elements from Rei Kawakubo’s infamous designs.