Fred Perry: From Court To Cloth

“Back the Brits! Back the Brits!”

November 29th, Great Britain, in prime fashion, defeated Belgium in the finals of the Davis Cup (think World Cup of tennis), ending a 79 year Davis Cup drought.

The last time they were crowned champions was in 1936 when they were led by the formidable duo of Fred Perry and Bunny Austin (pictured above). This year they were led by the defensive-minded, world no. 2 men’s tennis player, Andy Murray (pictured below in the 2008 Wimbledon quarter finals). Murray, now a definitive future Hall-of-Famer, has accomplished feats only achieved by one other Englishmen in seven decades.


Fred Perry was the last Brit to win Wimbledon–until Murray captured the crown in 2013–and is regarded as one of the best tennis players of all time, as well as one of the best racquet sport players of all time (he was also a table tennis world champion). The thought of him being a tennis great is generally lost on those who wear his clothes–the same fate that has befallen fellow great Rene Lacoste. Separated by only a handful of years, the two legends never faced off because Lacoste retired early due to a respiratory disease, but over the years they have competed on the racks. Lacoste is credited with the invention of the polo for the modern game, but both brands were critical in sparking the transition of tennis apparel from stuffy garb to athletic and player-conscious apparel. Everything about the polo was much better for competition than the dress shirt. From the breathability of the pique cotton, the non-abrasive short sleeves, and the ability to unbutton the shirt when the going got tough.

In the late 1940s, with the help of Austrian footballer Tibby Wenger, Perry invented the first athletic sweatband. Soon after, in 1952 at the Wimbledon Championships, Perry and Wenger launched the Fred Perry tennis shirt, which was heavily inspired by Rene Lacoste’s polo.The Fred Perry shirt used a laurel wreath as its logo in a nod to the original Wimbledon logo. It was an instant success, but it didn’t really catch hot fire until the ’60s, when they were adopted by the English mod and Northern Soul subcultures. The classic shirts were so well-received by mods that they started to demand more colors be produced.

It’s astonishing to see clothing favored amongst so many different societal groups. The Fred Perry shirt is perfect for whatever formal and informal event you have. Still constructed in England, they’ll make you wanna pick up some sticks and crack a Serena.

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Tim Niven

Tim is Wingtip's Assistant Product Manager, a Bay Area native who has been with the company since 2013. Tim's a connoisseur of film and television, and by that he means he Wikis plots for film and television. His style inspirations come from the little screen--Barney Stinson, Brad Williams, and Tom Haverford. He is also a huge comedy nerd, as well as a regular nerd. He is an avid wearer of suits.

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