There are some things that are so English that it is hard to replicate them anywhere else. Think strawberries and cream, afternoon tea with delicate cucumber sandwiches and dainty cakes, mid-summer rain and the All England Lawn Tennis Championships at Wimbledon.
This tournament may be a Grand Slam, one of four around the world, but it is the only one that insists on a dress code for players – any colour allowed as long as it’s white. In fact, the rules are so strict that the Wimbledon HQ even dictates the amount of colour trim allowed around the collar or cuffs of any outfit – 1cm at most! So who better to be given the task of dressing the officials for an occasion where style is paramount than that great connoisseur of taste Ralph Lauren.
The creators of luxury men’s and women’s clothing for almost five decades is already part of the prestigious Wimbledon tradition as Ralph Lauren celebrated its 11th year designing the officials’ uniforms in 2016.
Now there is no need to study the rules of tennis to have your own piece of this immaculate collection as Ralph Lauren has created a range of pieces that look as good in the city as on Centre Court. Combining the heritage of the brand and its long association with the grace and strength of tennis, the collection features modern athleisure looks. Knit shirts with breathability are paired with navy shorts for girls or classic navy tennis shorts for the boys. Pinstripes usually more synonymous with London’s Savile Row inject a sense of formality to umpire jackets when paired with wide-leg trousers or a bias-cut skirt. The men’s sport coat has identical pinstripes completed with a notch collar and patch pockets. Hints of purple and green – Wimbledon’s core colours – give an added twist – while the colour bands adorning the woollens in the collection lift the look. Although a word of warning – they will not pass the Wimbledon rulebook as they are definitely more than 1cm wide.
Ralph Lauren has clearly captured the essence of Wimbledon with this sartorial collection of casual wear. As David Hewitt, head of retail at the All England Club said when the 2016 Wimbledon uniforms were unveiled: “These stylish designs perfectly match the timelessness and elegance of The Championships and continue to define the classic Wimbledon look.” Fans of this summer, preppy look may never have picked up a tennis racquet in anger, but this does not stop them from appreciating the heritage that lies behind each creative idea.
Wimbledon celebrated its 130th anniversary in 2016 and every garment in this Ralph Lauren Collection pays tribute to Wimbledon’s rich, sporting tradition and its status throughout the world as the home of tennis. There are reminders of this unique club’s legacy, from the green and purple colourway on the knitwear to the bright white of some of the shirts and shorts. As the Wimbledon Rule Book states: “white does not include off-white or cream”. Not only does this chic collection add panache, but ensures that each fabulous piece is lovely to wear. Originally designed for Wimbledon’s match officials, it had to provide wearability and flexibility in addition to great style. This it achieves in every piece, so game, set and match to Ralph Lauren.