Amidst the era of social distancing and outdoor activities, tennis proved to be the perfect sport. A net and 78 feet of court stood between you and your opponent. But, even as social lives return to close proximity, tennis’ popularity has remained intact—especially as it pertains to fashion.
“Brands traditionally not associated with tennis, from fast fashion to luxury labels, have been brought into today’s mainstream tennis culture,” says Jason Kim, SVP of marketing for Lacoste North America, of the sport’s rise. “Through content creation and true product development, this surge in tennis wear’s popularity has ultimately defined the new trend we see around ‘Tenniscore’.”
Tennis is a sport known for its particularity when it comes to its uniform. At Wimbledon, players can be fined for not wearing all white on the court (As Nick Kyrgios was for putting on his white and red Air Jordan 1s this year). In 2018, Serena Williams’ black catsuit at the French Open earned unnecessary backlash from the French Tennis Federation and led to the ban of similar outfits altogether. While this official fussiness around dress code feels old-fashioned, many just getting into the sport are finding that the traditional tennis staples feel particularly fresh off court.
With rising interest comes exciting innovation. Classic tennis brands like Lacoste are finding ways to marry on and off-court style, partnering with A.P.C and AwakeNY. Says Kim, “mixing traditional, technical wear with aspects of modern streetwear and digital age influence.”
This summer, sportswear brand Wilson released its second collaboration with Kith, a label that’s helped to define the current era of streetwear. “Kith created a modern twist on classic prep,” says Joelle Michaeloff, vice president of design at Wilson Sportswear. “Together, we combined our heritage with their street style to create something unique and special.” The collaboration took traditional tennis silhouettes like the tennis dress and even the visor, reimagining them with a fashion-forward twist. Michaeloff cites the tennis skirt and a classic polo shirt as two key pieces Wilson is seeing customers style just as fervently off the court as on.
A further venture into the space, lifestyle brand Sporty & Rich, founded by Emily Oberg, launched a new co-branded capsule with Prince on July 11. “Sporty & Rich is all about encouraging people to live healthier, happier, and longer, and knowing that an activity like tennis can help to achieve that, it has always been a central part of the brand ethos,” Oberg said in a press release. The collection, a mix of cotton lounge pieces, along with preppy staples like tennis skirts and sweater vests, manages to maintain technical elements of the sport while introducing a trendy twist.