The clay courts of Roland Garros not only give the players the opportunity to show off their playmaking creativity, but that of their clothing sponsors as well. Bold colors and unique patterns are as part of the Paris fabric as Nadal forehand winners. After all, it is the fashion capital of the world. For 2019, the NikeCourt Paris Collection introduces a tennis-specific toile print which adopts an 18th-century art form to decorate the apparel.
Admittedly, I had to look up what toile is—I thought it had something to do with all the laboring one must do to win on clay. But it clearly holds more artistic value. The design on the men's polo and women's long-sleeve top depicts pastoral scenes with skeletons engaged in tennis-related vignettes scattered over the black and white knit fabric. There are also nods to Nike-specific details such as a swoosh on a skeleton’s shoes and the trees and geese that populate the company’s headquarters in the Pacific Northwest. Players will also be wearing two more distinct looks: a floral print blending peonies and roses, which appears on the men’s jacket, pant and shorts; and bees, a mark of French heritage, on the women’s top.
“We wanted to play off the history of the area in an unexpected way,” says Abby Swancutt, NikeCourt Global Design Director. “We saw a big opportunity pairing a classic French motif within a traditional sport like tennis. When you see the toile pattern, you’re expecting something from the past, but in reality, we’ve infused playful elements from Nike's history, and in turn, put it on performance fabrics to make it modern.”
Then there’s Serena. In collaboration with designer Virgil Abloh, Nike is releasing a signature cape-jacket for the tennis style icon. Translated from French, the words printed on the cape-jacket are: Mother, Champion, Queen, Goddess. The material was developed for Serena by Nike as a performance seersucker nicknamed “Ever.” This comes on the heels of her sea-green bodysuit for Melbourne, which was made out of a Nike material nicknamed “Greatest.” To complete the outfit there’s a skirt with matching print. In addition to the cape-jacket, Abloh and Nike have created a limited-edition T-shirt and hat.
The NikeCourt Paris Collection is available worldwide on nike.com and select retailers. The Serena Williams Nike x Off-White cape-jacket will be sold on nike.com in Europe and North America, and at the Nike Champs-Elysees and P75 in Paris.