Outlook 2007 -- Court Couture
Apparel makers are giving players exactly what they need to perform their best on court.
When it comes to tennis apparel for the upcoming season, color, detail, and embellishment are everywhere. And, of course, versatility is key. More and more, tennis fashion reflects haute couture in an extremely user-friendly way.
Kaelin for fall ‘07 continues its use of bold colors and graphics, combined with performance fabrics based on Meryl yarns for moisture wicking and breathability. The Meryl jersey has a soft hand that holds color after repeated washings, and is resistant to pilling. The popular “espresso,” a dark brown, returns and is combined with maize and teal in muted stripes, a bold print, and sporty piping. Another group features “grassland” and “tranquility blue” in bold stripes and stylized floral prints. Each group has a variety of solid, print, and stripe skirts that coordinate with tops, hooded sweats, and warm-ups. And Kaelin also offers skirts with built-in shorts, and a range of solid basic tops and skirts to mix and match. Warm-ups, in virtually all fall colors, are in Kaelin’s exclusive micro-fiber woven fabric.
Diadora looks to fill a niche market with its specialty tenniswear for people who want something “new and different.” The company positions its clothes as “European style with an American fit.” The women’s Linea line, featuring an athletic and active fit, is tailored yet feminine and flattering. Skirts are 15 inches long and most have attached shorts, and subtle features include the Diadora embroidered logo and Italian chevron crest. The classic color here is black with melon trim and piping in 100 percent poly with moisture-wicking DiaDry. Menswear includes a new Italian crest and emblem logo. Classic colors are trimmed with a “popping” color, for instance in the men’s Victorio line, royal blue is trimmed in yellow. Clothes are 100 percent poly with moisture-wicking DiaDry.
Fila emphasizes the technical side of its very wearable garments. The Center Court collections stress moisture-management, antimicrobial properties, and UV protection. Meryl Microfiber technology enables a very fine and closely-woven knit, which features great softness, breathability, and wind/rain resistance in lightweight apparel. It also offers excellent UV protection.
Animal patterns are hot, and Lejay features leopard in white and red. Prints of all kinds, an oriental focus, rhinestone accents, and various trim around necklines and hems all point to the details, says Trish Levin, Lejay’s vice president of merchandising. Black and white, pink and brown, patchwork, and geometric patterns speak to the variety. Lejay’s line is designed for every body at every age, with fit in mind — some of which are trim and athletic, while other pieces are more forgiving.
Jane Lazarz, president and designer of In-Between Court & Sportwear, says its “Transition Wear” falls into that all-important versatility category. Consumers are looking for crossover/activewear pieces that can go from the court, to the gym, to the store, and beyond, and that are of quality construction and easy to care for, she says. In-Between’s signature Micro-Tek Supreme and Body Care applications feature customer-requested moisture-wicking, antimicrobial properties, and UV protection. In-Between also features a full line of active innerwear, including its popular “CourtShorties.” Customers seem to favor a skirt and panties as separate components rather than the all-in-one skort, says Lazarz, so In-Between offers a wide variety of CourtShorties styles. In-Between has also added women’s plus sizes and now carries a new line for girls from XS to XL.
Prince is launching a new apparel line based on technical fabrics, fit, and function on the court. Key is moisture management, which Prince addresses with new lightweight fabrics that emphasize comfort. Pieces are serious athletic gear, says Prince, but are also colorful and fun to wear. The new Tour collection, for men and women, is for serious tennis, says the company, and consists of “cutting-edge apparel with attitude.” Highlighting the Tour collection are new technical fabrics that offer a softer hand and an attention to the details in tenniswear. For women, the Tour collection focuses on white with pastel accents; the men’s Tour apparel features bold slates, oranges, and blacks. The Competition collection, for men and women, emphasizes a fresh, athletic look with colors suitable for individual or team wear. Pieces in the Competition collection are white, with accent colors of red, navy, black, yellow, green, and more.
LBH & Lily’s
LBH and Lily’s have carved out a niche that is fun and flirty. While the LBH line still has a more athletic flair, Lily’s sports a bit more floral and frilly accent. Emphasis is on trim, detail, and fabrications, while graphic designs, bright colors, pastels with zebra print, textured stripes, and burn-out prints give clothing more dimension. “People are interested in adding more variety” to their tenniswear and activewear, says Katie Curry, LBH’s vice president of marketing. Dresses are more popular, and in keeping with trends, LBH is introducing a long short, which speaks to versatility — it’s fitted but not tight, so more women will find it a flexible addition to their active wardrobe. Pinks continue to be popular, along with aqua, blue, and periwinkle. There are 10 fashion collections and a classic collection among the LBH, Lily’s, and Wimbledon lines.
Bälle de Mätch
Bälle de Mätch continues to be strong in kids and men’s clothing, but new this year is a line for baby-boomer women looking for a more relaxed fit and softer fabrication than the athletic-youth line Bälle is famous for. Look for bright colors for spring, as well as solids to mix and match, which offer great merchandising possibilities. Also, the “Tweener” group — girls between ages 12 and 17 — features a line of shorts, tees, tanks, and sweatshirts that cross over from tennis to fitness. Speaking of crossover, Bälle balances yoga, pilates, and fitness with its tennis line by introducing the “She-long,” a below-the-knee short for women. The company’s big focus is on buyer availability and team wear (Bälle is the official apparel sponsor of World TeamTennis). To accommodate this large segment, they’re introducing “Cute Bunz” shorts within shorts, which they expect will sell well on the team circuit.
Bolle sports many hues, from soft romantics to bright colors. Graphic blacks and whites are still popular in “engineered placement prints,” which are designs focused on a specific area of the garment. For ‘07, Bolle also introduces prints in almost every line, with an athletic look without the extreme body-hugging fit. Skirts, shorts within skirts, mix and match pieces, and shorts within shorts dominate, and feminine details of ruffles and flounces indicate that “pretty is in,” says Bolle’s Mary Gibb. Barely Bolle, the company’s popular undergarment line, offers support without a constricting fit. The fabric-driven undergarment pieces feature appealing loft, soft feel, and moisture-wicking capabilities.
See all articles by Cynthia Sherman
About the Author
Cynthia Sherman is a contributing editor for RSI magazine.