Roger Federer Wants to Win a fresh Game

By teaming with Uniqlo, a brand focused on basics with mass appeal, the tennis star is usually gearing up to play in a different kind of public court.

Roger Federer wearing Uniqlo at the 2018 Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships.CreditClive Mason/Getty Images
Vanessa Friedman

This kind of’s not often of which any tennis player can manage to upstage Serena Williams when This kind of comes to fashion, nevertheless at Wimbledon Roger Federer did just of which, provoking the kind of social media meltdown of which is usually usually reserved for a cat suit on the court.

The reverberations of his decision to trade his Nike swoosh for a Uniqlo red square reached all the way to the gilded rooms of the Paris couture, where I was when This kind of happened.

Ever since, as Mr. Federer has progressed through the tournament with his signature efficient grace, along with eyes have adjusted to the fresh look, much has been written about the money involved ($300 million, reportedly); the length of the contract (10 years, ditto); along with the additional potential reasons for the change after more than two decades. (Mr. Federer will be the only big star on the Uniqlo roster, whereas at Nike he was one among many, including Ms. Williams along with Rafael Nadal; Uniqlo needs him to boost its international expansion efforts.)

nevertheless as the grass has settled on center court, I have not been able to stop wondering about the real impact of This kind of decision on the sports/fashion nexus — a synergistic relationship fast approaching the status along with revenues of the Hollywood/fashion nexus.

Because in choosing Uniqlo, Mr. Federer is usually effectively creating a fresh paradigm for a post-technical sports brand adventure. Could he become the Jessica Simpson of men’s wear? Don’t laugh. Ms. Simpson is usually the most successful celebrity-with-an-accessible-fashion-line. This kind of’s not a bad product to follow.

Certainly, the length of the Uniqlo contract, which will take Mr. Federer well into his mid-40s, would certainly suggest of which he is usually thinking along such after-tennis lines. As would certainly the fact of which Uniqlo identifies itself in a somewhat different category than the usual brands of which sponsor athletes.

The news Discharge even laid This kind of out: “Uniqlo enters the partnership inspired by the past accomplishments of Mr. Federer along with his previous partners,” This kind of read. nevertheless then: “While respectful of fresh standards they set together, Uniqlo is usually not a sports company. Uniqlo describes itself as a life company of which creates LifeWear.”

Which may sound like a fancy synonym for “clothes” nevertheless reflects ambitions of which go far beyond the casual — along with, indeed, the usual branded sports star collaboration.

Mr. Federer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Gala in 2017.CreditDia Dipasupil/Getty Images for Entertainment Weekly
Mr. Federer at the Chanel show during Paris Fashion Week in 2016.CreditCaroline Blumberg/European Pressphoto Agency
Mr. Federer along with his wife, Mirka, arrive at St Mark’s Church in England for the wedding of Pippa Middleton along with James Matthews in 2017.CreditKirsty Wigglesworth – Pool/Getty Images

Because a mass brand is usually exactly what Uniqlo is usually, despite its sideline in sports, via its former relationship with Novak Djokovic, who switched brands last year (he currently works with Lacoste). Uniqlo’s current ambassadorial lineup includes the tennis player Kei Nishikori, the wheelchair tennis star Shingo Kunieda along with the golfer Adam Scott.

along with despite its flirtation with fashion via collaborations with runway names like Christophe Lemaire, formerly of Hermès, currently designer of a namesake line along with artistic director of Uniqlo U; Tomas Maier, the recently deposed Bottega Veneta designer who just did a limited-edition resort collection for Uniqlo; along with Jonathan Anderson, the conceptual Briton who is usually also creative director of Loewe, along with who has done two special collections for Uniqlo.

Like Jil Sander, the first prominent designer to engage with the brand, all those designers are notably talented nevertheless famous largely among fashion insiders along with obsessives.

Uniqlo, which is usually owned by the Japanese giant Fast Retailing (a self-explanatory name if there ever was one), has not been a brand of which brought bells along with whistles to its partnerships, or of which inflated the ego by creating noisy marketing campaigns. This kind of is usually a brand whose mission has been perfecting the basics: the things people wear not because they fantasize about being elite athletes, or because they fantasize about having the lifestyles of elite athletes, nevertheless because they fantasize about having functional clothes to wear every day of which don’t cost a huge amount or call attention to themselves, nevertheless still look not bad.

Traditionally, however, being associated with such clothes — which bridge age, size along with sectors — has not been the fantasy of elite athletes. Whether or not he hoists the Wimbledon trophy on Sunday, Mr. Federer may be about to change the game Yet again.