Archive for January, 2013

The Boy In Oz

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AustralianOpen1 Photo Credit: imageslides.com                                     Photo Credit: Julian Finney/Getty Images

I have been laying in bed each night these past two weeks in January, staring bleary-eyed at the television, and trying to stay awake for just one more change over.  Although, I did get the treat of Novak Djokovic taking his fourth round match with Stanislas Wawrinka into a five-set war that lasted until the next morning when I got to watch the end.

I realize the Australian Open is tough for us Americans to watch, matches that go on in the middle of the night, Johnny Mac is nowhere to be seen, and who even gets the Tennis Channel anyway?

As a life-long fan of tennis, I do try and make the effort to watch as much of the Grand Slam events as I can (live).  Time zone and sleep pattern permitting, of course.

This year I am taking more of a notice on the shifting fashions, and where the players are pledging their endorsement allegiance.  In the sport of tennis, it always seems to be the same list of usual suspects: Nike (who can forget Agassi circa 1990?), Adidas, Sergio Tacchini, K-Swiss, etc.

Finally, there is something else afoot when it comes to apparel for our leading men.  I would like to take a minute and recognize the recent partnership (as of mid-2012) of Djokovic and the Japanese fashion retailer, UNIQLO.

You may have noticed since Roland Garros 2012, Djokovic has been sporting the big red-squared logo on his tennis kit.  The design of the shirt, shorts and warm-ups were laid out to pay homage to the Serbian flag (zdravo!).  A spokesperson from UNIQLO explained how Djokovic arrived at this junction in brand building: “We believe that tennis is a sport where the individual’s performance is combined with a personal sense of style and fashion, both on and off the court.”*

Although, this partnership is not about creating a whole new tennis or sports line, the distribution of Djokovic’s clothing line will be limited to only a handful of stores, and it only consists of 10 different pieces.  This relationship has a larger cause at hand.

In a program called “Clothes for Smiles,” UNIQLO and UNICEF will be making the dreams of children come true in China, Philippines, Serbia, and Bangladesh with more countries to follow in 2013.  Each country or region will be treated differently based on needs, which is why the phrasing of ‘Dreams’ was used.  Mr. Djokovic being the perfect Global Brand Ambassador as he speaks 4 languages, and his home country of Serbia will benefit from this program.

It seems like a perfect match for me, UNIQLO’s HEATTECH tights kept my legs toasty last winter, and I plan on keeping this fun brand within my retail travels.  Hats off to UNIQLO for translating the ‘Made for All’ brand messaging into my world of tennis.  And please, Novak, keep the ‘Djokes’ coming, we love your on-court antics.

*Raquet Sports Industry Magazine

For further reading: Golden Era of Tennis is Lost on Most American Fans

Written by: Alexandra Ricchi

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January 25th, 2013 at 9:43 pm