Athleisure is a term that has been ringing those style bells for a little while now. From glossy style features in magazines to the #OOTD photos on the fashion blogger pages. Whether your toes are an Adidas fan or a Converse fan? Whether you wear yoga gear from the Studio to the Cafe or whether you’re like me and do your workout in ratty tatty old sports gear that resembles something from the prop department of the film ‘Run Fat Boy, Run’!! No matter what your style is, I reckon we all have a little athletic gear stashed away in our wardrobes somewhere. But with the spotlight on Athleisure being a current trend, then my style history fingers are itching to start delving into the heritage of the British sport label that has won the subculture heart of the street, all hail Fred Perry.
The Fred Perry Style Roots
Fred Perry was the British Wimbledon tennis champion who won 3 consecutive Wimbledon championships from 1934-36. In the 1940’s, Fred worked with ex Albion footballer, Tibby Wegner, who had created the first wrist sweatband. The sweatband gained great success and so Fred and Wegner made this the first product of their successful Fred Perry clothing line. In 1952, Fred launched the iconic pique tennis shirt, the M3, onto the green grass courts of Wimbledon. An iconic piece of athletic apparel was born and proudly made in Leicester, England. It gained immediate success. The ‘Fred Perry fit’ – was a “simple, streamlined silhouette and focus on lightweight functionality”.
*All images are via Pinterest
The Fred Perry Style History
The mighty tennis shirt with the iconic Laurel Wreath embroidered symbol, was later adopted by British subcultures and has reigned for more than 60 years now. The epic story of the Fred Perry line is showcased on the website’s brand book with a fabulous story telling presentation, check it out here. The brand reveals, “Legend has it, that a buyer from Lillywhites’ requested a unique shirt design in football colours of white/ice/maroon along with white/ice/navy. This was the first shirt to carry the signature twin tipping and the shirt design that took Fred Perry from being sportswear to street wear”.
The birth of the Mod movement in the 1960’s is where we started to see sportswear cross over onto the streets and into the hearts of fashion lovers. The young British working classes of the 60’s gained the freedom and funds to explore their own sense of style without the pressures that their parents and grandparents had experienced with conscriptions and expectation to support their families. The Fred Perry shirt was fast becoming a favourite style uniform piece of the Mod wardrobe and the design of the twin tipping of the shirt collar and cuffs came into the range along with a demand for coloured versions.
*All images are via Pinterest
Fred Perry’s Style Icons
The Fred Perry line continued to gain fans with its iconic pieces with many other style subcultures over the years. In addition to the Mods, his fans also came from the style sub-culture groups: Teddy Boys, Rockers, Punks, Skin Heads, Northern Soul crowd, New Wavers and Ravers and the Britpop crew in the late 1990’s. The turn of this century has seen contemporary admiration from the music industry via late Amy Winehouse, Jake Bugg and Miles Kane of The Last Shadow Puppets. The label has successfully fused athletic apparel with street style. It is safe to say that with this success, Fred Perry is one of the defining brands in British Fashion history.
Enjoy an eye spy over these mighty style icons who are proudly wearing their bit of Fred.
Above: The Ska royalty, The Specials and Terry Hall
Above: Skinhead style from the brilliant British TV series ‘This is England’.
Above: The Modfather, Paul Weller in his younger ‘The Jam’ band days
Above: The laurel wreath 90’s Britpop brigade with Oasis, Blur frontman Damon Albarn, Liam Gallagher and Trainspotting actor, Ewan McGregor
Above: Some of todays Fred Perry fans are musician Jake Bugg, British Olympic cyclist Bradley Wiggins and musician Miles Kane from The Last Shadow Puppets.
*All above images are via Pinterest
The Fred Perry Designer Collaborations
With Menswear being the label’s main focus, the company embarked on a designer collaboration with Raf Simons of Dior fame and also chose to shine the spotlight on its womenswear line with the help of the late British fashion genius, Richard Nicoll.
The Uniform of the nonuniform
Amy Winehouse collaborated with the company to put her style touch on the womenswear line.
The Fred Perry label have decided to continue Amy’s legacy, following her tragic death in 2011. Fred Perry have an ongoing seasonal collection, The Amy Winehouse collection, working alongside the Amy Winehouse foundation. Fred Perry contribute to support the charity’s work in supporting young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Fred Perry state: “Referencing her original designs for Fred Perry, our collection remains rooted in Amy’s distinctive sportswear and pin-up silhouettes. British graffiti artist Pegasus – known for his stencilled piece of the singer in Camden, pays tribute to Amy with an exclusive rose design, printed onto select pieces. A legacy of creativity.”
Fred Perry x Bella Freud
The latest designer collaboration from Fred Perry is a personal favourite of mine. The famed and fabulous designer, Bella Freud, released her third collaboration collection with the label, in February’17. If you are a follower of my blog or if you are my long-suffering bank manager, then you will know that I have a serious bloody weakness for Bella Freud and anything that she graces with her magic wand. One of my all time fave designers, her previous collections with Fred Perry have been a huge success and have shed a beautiful light to the label for its womenswear line.
Fred Perry describe the collection as “An exploration of the Fred Perry archive through Bella’s distinctive style lens. Referencing the subcultures of her youth, the London-based designer continues to add bold detailing to classic Fred Perry pieces.”
The Fred Perry x Bella Freud collection 2017
The current collection which can be bought online at Fred Perry or in store, is nothing short of bloody magnificent. I love Bella’s use of the larger collar on the tennis shirts in a nod towards the 70’s. I adore her use of the traditional twin piping detail on shirts with an added embroidered star for that bit of Bella magic. But nothing quite hits the spot more so than that bloody gorgeous leopard print!!! What more could I possibly ask for in my little wardrobe world other than some mighty leopard print and Bella Freud magic!
Bella explains the inspiration behind her design touches for this beautiful collection:
“I wanted to get that feeling of people having one small thing that defined them, that gave them a look. On the covers of reggae albums, someone will have their best thing on and it looks really strong and it says everything.”
Check out Bella’s fab designer profile on the Fred Perry website subculture section, including her playlist of tracks that epitomize this collection, here
How I Wear Mine
As soon as I copped eyes on this mighty collection, I fell head over heels for the black and leopard track jacket. I wasted no time in ordering it whilst simultaneously taking deep breaths into a paper bag and listing some items on eBay to pay for it! I was nothing short of a mad crazed woman on a mission and enlisted the help of my best mate, the bloody gorgeous Jane, to help me get my hands on this beaut! Oh my bloody stars! I was not disappointed. This jacket is a stunner. Impeccable quality, great shape and I’m so in love with the luscious rich yellow heavenly leopard print. It’s the jacket of dreams. The happiest bundle of black Athleisure to ever be had!
Wearing: Fred Perry x Bella Freud leopard print track jacket, H&M stripe tee, Levi 505c jeans in Dee-Dee wash and Reese ankle boots from Circus by Sam Edelman.
The Track Jacket In Action
The track jacket is such a bloody good wardrobe piece and when you immerse yourself into the rich culture of Fred Perry, then its hard to pick another brand! But with the Fred Perry x Bella Freud version, when it comes to cost-per-wear, it will be paying me to bloody wear it soon! I wear it with absolutely everything. I wear it as a layering piece in the day with a tee and jeans. I wear it on chilly days as a jacket over a Bella Freud Knit jumper and I have also teamed it with a black tulle skirt and heels for a night out. What’s not to love about this track jacket that oozes fabulous British heritage design. Done and dusted.
Wearing: Fred perry x Bella Freud leopard print track jacket, Gap white essentials tee, Next black hareem pants, Fishnet socks and white Adidas Stan Smith trainers.
*A shout-out of thanks to Kay @kayekee25 for taking the above street snaps and to Emilie @dearemilieg, for shouting at me ‘work it’ when I started to slouch and pull faces!
This is my kind of Athleisure. We all have different takes on wearing athletic clobber outside of the gym. Because I like to save my hard-earned pennies for those moments of weakness that fast become my wardrobe staples – just like this jacket did! I have never actually enjoyed spending money on the “just call me Serena Williams”- athletic gear! It is not unusual to spot me at home, wearing old ratty-tatty PJ or track bottoms and a sport’s top, as I skulk off to my basement to watch BBC player as I work up a sweat on my Elliptical Trainer to make me feel better about the Gin & Tonics washed down with Kettle Crisps! We all have different takes on the style stakes front and as long as we are doing what works best for us, then who can argue with that. But for my Athleisure moment, I am saluting the mighty Fred Perry for both his magic on the tennis court and on the street in the style stakes. What an incredible archive of subculture apparel from this iconic design label.