The best tenniswear brands are very aware of 2022’s fashion-first take on courtside dressing. After seasons dominated by high-design athleisure and balletcore, tenniscore has emerged as this year’s answer to a string of anything-can-be-core revivals inspired by classic sports aesthetics. According to industry insiders and experts creating the latest collections, there’s a logic behind this slice of inspiration.
“Tennis has always been associated with elegance, including from a sartorial point of view,” says Catherine Spindler, chief brand officer of Lacoste. Spindler acknowledges that style codes are influencing traditional fashion houses and making their way far beyond the country club. Spindler points out that former tennis champion René Lacoste founded the brand in 1933 with deep roots in the sport – he developed a ball-throwing machine for training solo and later invented the polo shirt, “which has become a fashion icon adopted by all.” Now, these “sporty influenced pieces are worn in a professional environment as well as for an evening out,” she says.
Plus, people are actually playing tennis, pickleball, and racquetball again. “We started to see a resurgence of people playing tennis and racquet sports during the pandemic as a way to be active and maintain social distance,” says Shannon Quarantino, vice president of e-commerce at Splits59. Now, the company is seeing “major growth” in demand for its tennis category designed to “wear on the court and after for cocktails or brunch.
So is Alo Yoga’s now-infamous Varsity tennis skirt, an influencer staple in social feeds from TikTok to Instagram. “Our skirt is feminine and fun yet still ideal for being active, incorporating integrated short pockets that can hold tennis balls for functional fashion,” says Danny Harris, one of Alo’s CEO, the brand that “offers fashion from studio to street.” Harris agrees with Spindler and Quarantino on the categories for everyone –and everywhere – appeal “from the tennis court to a café.”
“People are ready to be back outdoors doing their favourite activities, and we’ve seen this reflected in the success of our tennis collections,” says Joelle Michaeloff, head of design at Wilson Sportswear. Its most recent tennis-inspired pieces (including a collaboration with Supreme) are “made for athletes at every level.”
Lacoste x APC
“Lacoste’s unique positioning, at the crossroads of fashion and sport, is particularly relevant in a world where there is a real fluidity of use that has become seamless,” Spindler says. For its just-launched collaboration, APC lends its cult appeal to the label for a collection of smartly striped polos, chill sweats, and exaggerated crocodile iconography.
Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev, and Venus Williams (who has her own Eleven by Venus Williams line, below) are some of the best tennis players in the world that act as Lacoste ambassadors. “This wardrobe, imbued with the brand’s strong fashion DNA, is part of a desire to respond to new lifestyles,” Spindler says of Lacoste’s aim to “create versatile clothes to accompany women’s lives.”
L’Etoile Sport + Veronica Beard
A tennis loyalist, L’Etoile sport founder Yesim Philip tapped designer Veronica Beard to infuse a technical collection with feminine edge. Airy pointelle-knit and tennis ball-inspired neon trim offer stylized details on pieces that function during play.
Tory Sport’s tennis totes are a user-favourite – and often sold-out. This convertible version features a removable racket pocket for easy wear.
Eleven by Venus Williams
Venus Williams imbued her lifetime of expertise and unapologetic approach to on-court fashion into a streamlined collection of tenniswear. Colour blocking and smart seaming deliver the kind of style she brought to her winning matches, whether at Wimbledon, the US Open, or those seven Grand Slams.
Both of Marysia’s scalloped tennis dresses are court-ready thanks to built-in sports bras and shorts. Plus, they’re made from moisture-wicking recycled seersucker fabric, which is Net Sustain–approved.
An après-match jacket made from over three quarters of recycled polyester, a second-skin fabric for form-fitting bike shorts, and bralettes are featured in Splits59 tennis collection, which is designed for comfort. Plus, the light-as-air fabrication won’t leave you overheating on a summer day.
Whether strolling across a Parisian courtyard or an actual tennis court, Adidas designed its Y-backed dress with removable shorts and a print celebrating the gardens surrounding Roland Garros stadium. Plus, it’s made from a yarn spun with 50% Parley Ocean Plastic to clean up pollution while it cools.