The Classics: The Fred Perry Polo Shirt
Few of you may know that Fred Perry was a tennis champion who has won over five Grand Slams and has won Wimbledon three times. These days, the name represents one of the leading brands in (tennis) sportswear who created a great cross-over to street wear. In search of a new sweatband, Fred Perry was approached by his future business partner (former Australian footballer Tibby Wegner) and they soon came up with the omnipresent Fred Perry Polo. The most recognizable fashion piece in the collection to carry the infamous Laurel Wreath embroidery.
Their marketing trick, which was then quite unheard of, was giving their shirts to important tennis players but also the BBC cameramen and others. Through this way they linked the brand to the world’s premier tennis tournament, Wimbledon.
But the unexpected embrace by the MOD movement in the sixties meant that the brand was not only limited to the world of tennis. The MODs made the Twin Tipped Polo fashionable for late night (out) and look still fresh in the morning. This helped to bring the brand from sportswear to street wear fashion.Nowadays a little more expensive but in the early days, Fred Perry was less expensive than (for example) Lacoste and so the working class could afford the polo shirts. Later on, after the MOD’s, the “Angry Young Britt” adopted the brand as a working class statement.The 1990’s brought Fred Perry recognition from overseas as popular bands like Oasis and Blur wore the Twin Tipped polo shirt, buttoned up.
But what made this particular shirt so popular decade after decade?
They’re made out of 100% cotton piqué, a fabric that has more body and stiffness than the average cotton. Making it also more resistant to wrinkling. They do not loose shape, shrink or stretch in time. Affordable and long lasting. Still made as “back in the days”; slightly slim fitted, the infamous two button style and practical as well as fashionable with a light vintage feel to it. As often happens with great brands, the history and its heritage become more important than the brand name itself. You are wearing a Fred Perry polo shirt because it has the right amount of cool, fitting and style.
"While the world around changed, the shirt stayed the same."
Brand association is a very important key to its popularity. For example, the Lacoste or Ralph Lauren polo shirt tell us how much money you have (or that you want others to think you have money) Fred Perry is just cool with a slight “I don’t care what you think”-feel to it.
In the recent years, the brand started working with popular designers that have earned their stripes, but also musicians with a different (not mainstream) but great talent like Amy Winehouse. This made sure they were even more up to date on what happened on the streets and to keep their cool image.
A timeless item.
The perfect cross-over between sport and street attracted different types of people throughout the years; MOD’s, punks, even football hooligans and the modern day hipster. All embrace the Twin Tipped polo shirt and the Laurel Wreath. It has enough style to be casual, modern but still “classy” for every type of men. More slim fit these days and in a great range of colours but still with that old Fred Perry feel to it. While the world around changed, the shirt stayed the same.