The Pro Shop

First Look: Fila's French Open Attire

Friday, May 16, 2014 /by

While BG’s complaint of the shirts being ugly is debatable, there’s no arguing the color has been prevalent this clay-court season. And it’s hardly a recent phenomenon. It’s not unusual for labels to work with similar colors around a particular timeframe. Several years ago there was a U.S. Open I (lamely) dubbed the Oreo cookie tournament, because it seemed every male player was in some sort of black-and-white outfit.

With so many colors to choose from, why do clothing manufacturers sometime overlap in such obvious ways?

In a sense, they’re shopping from the same store. During the brainstorming process of constructing a clothing line, designers frequently call upon fashion trendsetting research companies to find out what’s hot. So if everybody shows up in a similar color—in this case, bright yellow—it’s because many of the forecasters are preaching the same thing. Right now neons are still big. Purple, and clothes with a sorbet palette, are also trending. If you’re looking for what’s next it could be heathers.

This according to Francine Candiotti, a designer for Fila’s tennis wear. While colors can be researched, and sometimes duplicated, it’s the company’s creativity that separates their application. “My biggest inspiration is the catwalk,” said Candiotti. “Meeting with the athletes is also really helpful. To them, lightweight is everything. There seems to be a trend toward shorter and tighter sleeves on shirts and more tapered shorts.”

It’s part of a growing trend in tennis—at both the professional and recreational levels—to view the sport as a workout, rather than a genteel pastime. People want their clothes to reflect the fitness aspect, resembling something they could wear to a gym rather than the country club.

So it’s critical that the wear be performance-based above all else. However, with a company like Fila, which tends to be more on the fashion edge than some of the other tennis retailers, there is the occasional opportunity to make a statement. Their designers also have the luxury of doing so by tapping into the rich, 103-year history of the company to reinvent iconic color schemes and patterns. With that in mind, Fila tapped Ginny Hilfiger (Tommy’s sister) to redefine and update the company’s worldwide Heritage line.

“It’s one of the world’s most iconic brands and its aesthetic has been incredibly consistent through the years,” said Hilfiger. “It’s also, at least in the United States, such an interesting moment in fashion—although some might say it marks the decline—but we’re at the apex of mixing every day wear with active wear. That is what today’s fashion has become all about.”

The worldwide heritage line includes skiwear, swimwear, track suits, and other lifestyle pieces. But Hilfiger’s first project was the spring tennis collection debuting at the French Open.

Heritage Ruffle Skort ($60) / F Tank ($64) Heritage Mitred Stripe Dress ($90)
Heritage Zigzag Polo ($60) Heritage Classic Snap Polo ($55) & Shirt Tail Hem Short ($48)

“When I first started,” said Hilfiger, “I had a chance to spend a week in the archives in Biella, Italy and there was an embarrassment of riches to pick from. But the DNA of the brand is tennis. The evolution from a knitwear company to an active wear company when [Bjorn] Borg burst onto the scene in his iconic striped polo is a seminal moment not only for Fila, but for sportswear in general. Tennis just felt like the right place to start.”

The line will feature familiar elements such as red, white, and blue taping, the F Box, and zigzag stitching associated with Fila, but with some French inspiration, such as the nautical patterns. All has been re-imagined for the modern athlete; a nod to the past with fashion and function firmly in the present. Hence, certain details and characteristics from Borg’s original polo have been sacrificed for the sake of performance. The various pieces will be worn by Fila players during Roland Garros and sold by tennis specialty retailers and on Fila’s U.S. website.

And to delight of those like BG seeking a little variety in player clothing, it will look unlike anything else on tour.


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