The Fred Perry tennis shirt, first introduced at Wimbledon in 1952, was a collaboration between two men with singular distinctions in the long and illustrious history of sports. The athlete who lent his name to the venture was, of course, Fred Perry, a British tennis sensation and the first player ever to win singles titles in all four Grand Slam tournaments (even crazier, perhaps, is the fact that Perry was a Table Tennis World Champion before he turned pro in the non-table-size version). The man responsible for dragging him into the apparel business was Tibby Wegner, an Austrian football player who invented the sweatband. The shirt they went on to make together was wildly successful and remained a stylish staple for decades. Recently, the iconic garment turned 60, and to celebrate the occasion, the company decided to solicit a sort of redesign. Sixty of them, in fact.
Essentially, the company sent reproductions of the original shirt to 60 artists, designers, athletes, and more and said, “go wild.” Some went wilder than others. Cyclist Bradley Wiggins, for example, merely autographed his canvas with a permanent marker. Fashion designer Christopher Raeburn turned his into a rabbit (?).
Many offered up unique graphic reworkings. A handful took things in a sort of meta direction. Artist Horace Panter adorned his shirt with an illustration of the iconic red-and-blue-edged Fred Perry collar. The design studio Asylum covered theirs with yellow loofah-looking things that vaguely resemble tennis balls.
Mother, the New York ad agency, executed their redesign using real tennis balls. “Christian Cervantes and Christopher Rogers attacked the shirt with a thoughtful arsenal: buckets of paint, a canister of tennis balls and a tennis racket,” we learn. “The outcome was a spontaneous kaleidoscope of exactly 60 brightly hued splatters resulting from exactly 60 swings to commemorate the brand’s 60th anniversary.”
At 60 years old, that’s more attention than any of us could hope for. All the shirts will be auctioned off later this year with proceeds going to the Amy Winehouse Foundation. You can check out all 60 contributions, and learn a bit about the contributors, over on the Fred Perry site.