Some players wear their hearts on their sleeves; now players can brand team spirit on their shirts.
Antigua has clothed golf Grand Slam champions in the past, and the Peoria, Arizona-based performance apparel brand is taking its customized clothes to the tennis court. Antigua launched its men’s tennis line on April 1 and debuts its women’s collection on December 1.
Prices range from $49.95 for polos and skorts to $44.95 for the performance Match tee. Customized embroidery is provided at no extra charge. There is, however, a minimum order for embroidering a new logo on apparel—Antigua says it can re-create it from a business card, .jpg, .gif, .pdf and several file formats—of 24 items.
Licensing deals with the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, Minor League Baseball, and American colleges and universities means tennis players can express loyalties with logos on their polos and tees. Antigua also fills orders from tennis clubs, academies, USTA recreational league teams, and tournaments. At the 2012 Family Circle Cup, Antigua served as official apparel sponsor, clothing onsite officials, ball kids, and volunteers, and renewed that sponsorship for 2013.
“We have 30 years of experience working in golf so we understand high-performance apparel: When it comes to fabric, fit and comfort, our clothes perform as well or better than the top [selling tennis] brands,” says Ron McPherson, President and CEO of Antigua. “The embroidery is included in the price of the apparel because more than 80 percent of our customers want their logo on the clothes.”
Impacting a saturated pro tennis apparel market sounds as daunting as trying to crack the ATP Top 10 straight out off the Challenger circuit, but execs believe consumers and retailers value variety and accessibility, which hit Antigua’s sweet spot. The brand’s two best-selling men’s items are both available in nine different sizes and seven different colors, and a real-time tote board on its web site informs exact availability of reach product in each size at that moment.
“The reason we entered tennis is because tennis apparel is dominated by a couple of major brands and people, quite frankly, are seeking an alternative to that,” McPherson says. “Players are tired of wearing the same clothes and retailers, clubs and pro shops are tired of not being able to get the apparel because brands are sending the product to all the big box stores. Antigua is an inventory company. We’re not a book-and-build company like others that take the orders, then have to create samples for approval, then have to make the clothes, which all takes time. We have the inventory on-site and do our embroidery right here and the licensing agreements we have is a benefit.”
Tennis has its share of personalized apparel: Roger Federer’s “RF” collection and Rafael Nadal’s bull logo apparel have both been winners for Nike, Venus Williams designs and wears her own EleVen line, and Benjamin Becker once sported Boris Becker apparel. While it’s unlikely you’ll see Antigua competing with the biggest brands to clothe Top 10 tennis stars in the immediate future, it is planning to outfit pros who want to customize their name or logo or charity on their clothes. Perhaps a Top 50 player's signature shirt will soon join the swoosh and triple stripe on the pro circuit.