Fred Perry

Tonie Ong

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It’s actually quite common for designers to wear their work. The clothes they design are for their ideal person, so naturally, they’d want to embody that as much as they want their clients to. It’s also a good marketing ploy to convince customers of the authenticity of the brand identity and to show the dedication the designer puts into making such clothes. Most of these designers are women, the likes of Coco Chanel, Diane Von Furstenberg, Donna Karan, and many others. The women have become as iconic as their names, and their personal style, which are reflections of the designs, have contributed a lot to that. However, there are also a few men in this category as well, and one of the most famous is Fred Perry.

Fred Perry was one of the best tennis players the world has ever seen. He was actually the first ever sportsman in the game to achieve a “grand slam”, having won all four of the most prestigious titles in tennis. However, his name now lives as one of the most premier sportswear luxury brands in the fashion industry. Fred Perry was also one of the very few athletes who achieved establishing an eponymous clothing line.

Man wearing black Fred Perry Jacket
Photo: Le 21ème

Before the laurel wreath became a famous logo

Fred Perry Boutique along Newburgh Street, London, UK.
Fred Perry Boutique along Newburgh Street, London, UK. Photo: DJ Cockburn

Fred Perry was born on May 18, 1909, in Great Britain. In the late 1920’s, he started playing tennis in various amateur competitions, gaining the attention of the professional industry even before he went pro himself. He eventually began playing professional tennis in 1936 and quickly became one of the most famous and most successful players of that period. In the late 1940’s, Australian footballer Tibby Wegner met with Fred Perry and proposed to him to create a clothing brand. Wegner created the wristband prior to their meeting, an antiperspirant garment worn on the wrist, mostly by tennis players.

Wegner wanted to create apparel with the same technique and principles as his wristband and decided Perry would be a great partner and face for such. He created a short-sleeved collared polo shirt, similar to Lacoste shirts, made out of knitted cotton-pique. They named it the “Fred Perry tennis shirt” and its namesake player debuted it in Wimbledon in 1952. The shirt saw immediate success, and soon, tennis players all wanted to wear one for their own. Eventually, customers who weren’t players themselves wanted to own a Fred Perry shirt, and thus, the brand was born. Much like Lacoste crocodile, Fred Perry’s laurel wreath, inspired by the symbol of the Wimbledon tennis competition, has become one of the most famous logos in retail history.

Revolutionizing style in the fashion industry

Fred Perry Neon by Matthias Cornilleau
Fred Perry Neon by Matthias Cornilleau

Much like other fashion brands, Fred Perry was worn by many of the youth during its peak in popularity, which many have argued to be the 1960’s or the 1970’s. However, for a brand like Fred Perry, whose customer used to be tennis players exclusively, they became the look of certain subgroups and youth movements throughout the latter half of the 20th century.

Much like how Chanel inspired the flapper look in the 1920’s, Fred Perry became the signature style of mod culture for men in the 1960’s. Mod was all about youth and their rebellion against convention and tradition. It started in the UK and soon made its way across the world. Because of its casual look and comfort, young men started wearing Fred Perry on the streets and in nightclubs. The famous tennis shirt became the official uniform for the mod man.


Fred Perry Men's Fashion
Fred Perry Men’s Fashion

To keep things fresh and interesting, Fred Perry has partnered with numerous individuals and entities for collaborations. Such have reinterpreted the Fred Perry tennis shirt in multiple ways, while also interjecting their own personal style with the brand’s iconic mod look. One of their most famous collaborators in Belgian designer Raf Simons. He designed the famous tennis shirt in sleeker silhouettes and with the logo on a tape-like design, making them look younger and urbaner. He also incorporated the label’s logo into new pieces, such as hoodie sweatshirts and round-neck t-shirts. For womenswear, the brand partnered up with the Amy Winehouse Foundation to reinterpret the Fred Perry look with that of the late singer’s. They offer the classic shirt in plaid and with the rose graphic that harkens to the famous singer’s tattoos.

Retail line today

Fred Perry Boutique in Ingolstadt, Germany.
Fred Perry Boutique in Ingolstadt, Germany. Photo: M Dogan

Today, Fred Perry is available in many of the world’s most prestigious retailers. Harrod’s in the UK is their most prominent retail presence in the brand’s home country. In the US, the likes of Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Barney’s all carry Fred Perry items. Online, e-commerce sites like East Dane, Amazon, and House of Fraser all sell the label. The clamor for the classic tennis shirt and the look of the brand, in general, has increased tenfold in the last few years. It’s now one of the most demanded sportswear brands in the world, beyond fashion and beyond sports.

Fred Perry, one of the greatest tennis player of all time, still lives today through his brand, also named Fred Perry. Such is the legacy of a man whose creation revolutionized pop culture and created a uniform for an entire sport.

Best Places to Shop for Fred Perry

Fred Perry Logo

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