Fred Perry – An iconic British brand name
View Fred Perry Fashion collections on London Fashion Review Blog
Fred Perry: Fashion Influencing Youth Culture
The Fred Perry brand was conceived by the tennis player of the same name, originally as a sportswear brand, but would soon after its inception begin to play a significant role in the fashion youth culture of Britain. Since the 1950’s, the Fred Perry shirt has become synonymous with not only sporting talent, but also British street culture, becoming popular with many youth cultures over six decades, including Mods, Skinheads, Perry Boys and the Britpop scene.
The Fred Perry fashion collection started out in 1952 as simply a sweatband and a polo shirt range. However, over the decades the collection has expanded to include complete menswear, womenswear, childrenswear and footwear, as well as a tennis collection and several limited edition collections coming from collaborations from the likes of Raf Simons, Amy Winehouse and Richard Nichol. Long gone are the days when Fred Perry and early business partner Tibby Wegner would give away their sweatbands and polo shirts in the hope of increasing business. As of 2011, Fred Perry had stores and customers in over 50 countries worldwide, sells product through many online vendors, and has a successful e-commerce site of their own.
- Late 1940’s: Fred Perry was approached by Austrian footballer, Tibby Wegner, who had invented an anti-sweat device to be worn round the wrist that he wanted to market with the Fred Perry name. Perry redesigned the prototype and the sweatband was born. Perry and Wegner marketed the bands by giving them to top tennis players to wear during high-profile tournaments. The Fred Perry sportswear label was born.
- 1952: Fred Perry and Tibby Wegner launched what was to be Fred Perry’s most famous garment: a slim fit cotton pique shirt with Laurel Wreath embroidery. The shirts were marketed in much the same way as the sweatbands; they were given to cameramen, players and Fred Perry and Dan Maskell both wore the shirts while commentating.
- Late 1950’s: The Fred Perry pique polo shirt became popular on the Mod scene and a new varied colour palette was added to cope with demand. The Fred Perry brand successfully makes the switch from sportswear to streetwear.
- 1960’s: The brand became popular with another youth demographic, the skinheads, categorised by their radical haircuts. Popularity came when Fred Perry added piping to the sleeves and collars of their shirts to match the team colours of football clubs.
- Early 1970’s: In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s the Fred Perry brand became popular in the Northern Soul scene that emerged in Manchester and Wigan – so called for their love of obscure American soul music.
- 1977: In Manchester, a new youth culture group emerged. They were so heavily influenced by the Fred Perry brand that they called themselves the ‘Perry Boys’. The group were fond of wearing their Fred Perry shirts with designer jeans and wedge haircuts.
- Late 1970’s: Another music-themed movement embraced the fashions of Fred Perry, the Punk movement. This was followed in the late 1970’s by a revival in the Mod movement. Paul Weller, at the time lead singer of The Jam, was often photographed wearing Fred Perry and the movie adaptation of The Who’s album, Quadrophenia, brought about this revival. Sales of Fred Perry soared.
- 1980’s: The 1980’s started well for Fred Perry; sales were buoyed by the support of the Two-tone movement, pioneered by acts such as The Specials and Madness. The look was reminiscent of the old skinhead look; followers wore their Fred Perry shirts with pork pie hats, Tonik suits and Loafers. It was in the 1980’s that the ‘Casuals’ gained the attention of the media. The Casual movement were football fans who preferred European brands, as opposed to the British Fred Perry. The movement gained popularity and as a result Fred Perry sales suffered. It looked like Fred Perry’s association with streetwear was over.
- 1990’s: Despite troubles for the brand in the 1980’s, Fred Perry endured and soon found favour with yet another youth culture movement, Britpop, a term used to describe a host of new groups that dominated the charts in the mid 1990’s. Bands such as Oasis, Blur, Ocean Colour Scene and Stereophonics all wore the brand inspired by the fashions of previous musical icons such as The Specials, The Jam and The Kinks. Fred Perry, who had stayed away from over-the-top advertising, achieved national prominence, when Damon Albarn of Blur, wore the classic Fred Perry polo in the video for smash hit ‘Park Life’, alongside actor Phil Daniels, who also wore the brand in the movie, Quadrophenia.
- 2005: To celebrate a strong link to music that has endured over 50 years, the brand launched Fred Perry Subculture as the legendary 100 Club as a way of showcasing the best new music. Information on the Fred Perry Subculture events can be found on the official Fred Perry website.
- 2008: Raf Simons and Ann-Sofie Black collaborate with the Fred Perry brand to create capsule collections.
- 2009: To celebrate 100 years since the birth of Fred Perry (the man), the brand releases a limited edition clothing range Fred Perry 100.The brand also collaborated with scooter icon, Vespa. Fred Perry and Vespa created a limited edition scooter in the classic Fred Perry colours of green and cream.
- 2010: Fred Perry collaborates with Amy Winehouse for the first time.
Story Behind the Fred Perry Laurel Wreath
The Laurel Wreath logo has become synonymous with the Fred Perry brand, although this was nearly not the case. The first logo Fred Perry considered was a pipe, as he felt it was one of the things he was best known for. Fortunately business partner Tibby Wegner managed to persuade him otherwise. That left the pair still needing a suitable logo for the brand; they came up with the idea of using the laurel wreath that Perry had been wearing since winning at Wimbledon in 1934. However, Perry had always had a tempestuous relationship with The All England Tennis Club, which further deteriorated when Perry turned professional in 1936. Much to Perry’s surprise, the then secretary of the club said there would be no problem in using the emblem and wrote a release to that effect. The Fred Perry Logo has remained as the Laurel Wreath ever since.
To celebrate the heritage and importance of the Laurel Wreath logo to the Fred Perry brand, in 2011 the Laurel Wreath Collection designed by Richard Nicoll was released. The Richard Nicoll collection was inspired by Ken Russell’s iconic images of 1950s Teddy Girls.
The collection centres on the concept of ‘Edwardian dandiness’ with vintage aspects, such as the pointelle cardigans and mother of pearl brooches, using colours that were popular during the 1950’s.
Recent Collaborations of Fred Perry
Richard Nicoll is just the most recent in a long list of Fred Perry collaborators. The most recent collaborations include:
In 2008, Fred Perry commissioned Swedish designer, Ann-Sofia Black to create a capsule collection for the Blank Canvas collection. The collection blends classic Fred Perry signature style and a blank aesthetic and silhouette; merino wool knitwear and fine pique polo shirts and dresses are key styles. Throughout the collection are the reverse shoulder pads, a signature of Black’s design aesthetic, to create and 1980’s style that is opposite of the clichéd power dressing of the decade.
Fred Perry begun its long standing collaboration with Raf Simons in 2008, with a small all black capsule collection of three pieces inspired by 1960’s ski wear. This was followed by further collections including a much larger, 25-piece capsule collection for the Spring/Summer 2009 season, inspired by West African influences, with natural fabrics and a vibrant colour palette. As of 2011, the Fred Perry and Raf Simons relationship was still going strong, with the recent collections being available to view on both the Fred Perry and Raf Simons websites.
Raf Simons for Fred Perry
As part of the Blank Canvas project, Fred Perry teamed up with Stussy Deluxe (the high-end label of streetwear brand Stussy) in 2009 to create a limited edition collection of signature Fred Perry polos, T-shirts and shirts with a Stussy Twist. The collaboration has continued into 2011 with a collection inspired by 1970’s sportswear.
Fred Perry & Stussy Collaboration
Singer Amy Winehouse designed her first 1950’s themed collection for Fred Perry in 2010, launched for the Autumn/Winter 2010 season. A second collection for the preppy brand followed for the Spring/Summer 2011 season, which comprised of 32 pieces in a mixture of ‘50’s style and a Tiki-theme with Hawaiian flower print pieces.
Amy Winehouse for Fred Perry
Richard Nicoll for Fred Perry