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Uomo Sport: Tennis’ New (Fashion) Kid on the Block
The apparel rising brand lists American star Jenson Brooksby on its growing roster of sport and pop culture endorsees.
Published May 20, 2022
The logical question for a clothing company signing up a professional tennis player is simple: Can that affiliation translate into sales?
Over the course of two hours during last year’s US Open, Uomo Sport owner/founder Steve Siebert received a vivid answer. The young company’s star endorser, rising young American Jenson Brooksby, then ranked No. 99, had made a breakthrough run to the round of 16 and taken the first set versus world number one Novak Djokovic. Over the course of that match, in a brisk 120-minute period, Uomo Sport (pronounced “Woe-Moe”) received 162 on-line orders. “The brand hit the zeitgeist at the right time,” says Siebert. “The brand went crazy.”
Says Brooksby, “They call me the California Kid. I love their clothes. They have a lot of cool, different designs and colors. It feels really good for tennis and they have done a great job for me.” Explaining Uomo Sport’s affinity with Brooksby, Siebert says, “We are both on the rise and will stop at nothing to put in the extra effort and make everything we do that much more special.”
In addition to Brooksby, other Uomo Sport brand ambassadors include 1987 Wimbledon champion Pat Cash, former top tenner Aaron Krickstein, longstanding coach Brad Stine, and Los Angeles-based artist Friedrich Kunath. “I wear tennis clothes every day,” says Kunath, “but it has to look cool. Uomo looks elegant.”
Siebert compares Uomo Sport to a Porsche—superb quality, timeless and upscale. Hosting a visitor in his Malibu Colony home, Siebert says, “the clothing you wear should be as good as the racquet or the strings” as he showcases various shirts, sweaters, shorts and other apparel items. Reached in Rome in between practice sessions with his latest charge, Tommy Paul, Stine says, “What Steven’s tried to do is bring back the classic lines. We got away from that starting in the late ‘80s, when the majority of clothing brands were trying to one-up one another with outrageous designs.”
This March, while exhibiting at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, Uomo Sport sold out every piece of the $60,000 in merchandise it had brought to the tournament. Headquartered in Culver City, a Los Angeles suburb, Uomo Sports clothes are currently carried in a range of clubs and stores all over the country. An agreement is also in the works with prominent on-line retailer Tennis-Point. A women’s line of clothes, named Donnasport, is expected to be available by the US Open.
The Uomo Sport origin story goes back more than 50 years. Growing up in the suburbs of New Jersey in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, Siebert’s passion was basketball. His favorite player was the New York Knicks’ stylish star guard, Walt “Clyde” Frazier. Frazier’s nickname was “Clyde” because he wore a fedora similar to the one worn by actor Warren Beatty in the cooler-than-cool 1967 film, Bonnie and Clyde. Everything from Frazier’s Puma shoes to his sideburns, custom suits and ease around Manhattan nightlife captured Siebert’s attention. During those same years, Siebert attended the US Open when it was played at the West Side Tennis Club at Forest Hills. There he saw the colorful stars of those tennis boom years—regal Arthur Ashe, rebellious Ilie Nastase, elegant Evonne Goolagong, swashbuckling John Newcombe, upstanding Stan Smith, teen angel Bjorn Borg, effervescent Vitas Gerulaitis. “They were the coolest guys I’d ever seen,” says Siebert. “They were rock stars.”
Fast-forward to 2015. Siebert’s son, Henry, was playing on the high school team at Crossroads, a Los Angeles area private school. Seeing each player’s rag-tag wardrobe, Siebert recalled how cool he’d always felt putting on his basketball uniform and wondered if it might be possible yet again to create a similar aura for tennis. Though his career had been mostly spent in the world of Hollywood and film production, in Siebert’s younger days he’d sold jeans and shirts at trunk shows. As Siebert took a deep dive into contemporary fashion, he traveled to Italy to study new technologies and manufacturing processes. “I wanted to create something that was chic and modern,” says Siebert. Stine encouraged Siebert to make a classic tennis sweater. “It’s more of a Stan Smith, an Arthur Ashe brand,” says Stine. “Going back in tennis history, Ellsworth Vines and Uomo Sports sound like a great combination, all about taste and style.”
Mixing tennis sports and fashion in Southern California’s rich, longstanding tennis community makes Siebert’s life a 24-7 merry-go-round of business, friendships, family, and tennis. The court located at Siebert’s Malibu home hosts a Saturday “Live Ball” session that features many excellent players, ranging from pros to college lettermen. Siebert’s curious about the kind of events Uomo Sport might involve itself in, ranging from tournaments to symposiums and other ways to get tennis into the broader cultural mix.
Most of all, Siebert sees a direct connection between fine clothing and good living. “The way we are living our lives, our bodies are our temple,” he says. “Look good. Feel good. Stay fit. Try to be healthy.”