In time for the qualification round of the America’s Cup, Prada is expanding its Luna Rossa line with a licensing agreement with Hublot. The Swiss company will produce and distribute a branded line of watches for it. The label’s products will start being sold this month on Prada has also signed an agreement with travel operator Alpitour for Luna Rossa-theme trips to Valencia, Spain where the America’s Cup sailing race is taking place in July 2007. “We are relying on an incredible level of brand awareness,� said Luna Rossa chief executive Giacomo Ovidi. “We want to enhance all categories that are relevant to the brand, in addition to the ready-to-wear collection.�

He pointed out that the watches are not exclusively meant for sailing. The five-year licensing agreement with Hublot may be extended for another five years and the watches will be sold in stores worldwide from October. They will be sold under the Luna Rossa and Hublot brands. Making the most of the sporting event, Prada launched a line of unisex, technical Luna Rossa branded apparel earlier this year. The collection is named for the America’s Cup yacht, which is controlled by Prada chief executive Patrizio Bertelli. According to Ovidi, he is aiming for ready-to-wear sales of €20 million by July of next year. The collections consist of two main ready-to-wear lines: Replica, which replicates the sailing team’s clothes, accounts for 6 percent of total sales and activewear, the less technical line, carries Italy’s Yacht Club logo. The rtw and accessories collections are currently sold in 250 multibrand stores in Italy and 15 in Spain. “I originally thought Replica was not very saleable,� Ovidi told WWD. “On the other hand, it’s faring well and it seems young people want to identify themselves with their idols.� He continued by saying that Luna Rossa is investing €90 million to partake in the next round of the America’s Cup. This is its third time.