NEW YORK — It will be difficult for tennis fans to miss the fashion flavor Polo Ralph Lauren is bringing to the U.S. Open.
Lauren is the first American fashion firm to be the Open's official apparel sponsor, and as part of the long-term partnership with the U.S. Tennis Association, the company is embarking on initiatives that will take place throughout the tournament and beyond.
Spectators will find a Polo boutique in the Louis Armstrong Stadium near the East Gate entrance, which had a soft opening this week. The 3,000-square-foot store features the designer's signature navy blue and white awnings, and staying with the tennis theme, is designed to resemble a tennis clubhouse with white as its main color scheme. Features include white lacquered wood and a large triptych illustrating a stadium, replete with cheering visitors.
The space also has several large plasma screens to view live coverage of the matches, mixed with recurring 30-second Polo commercials. The store's exterior features a Jumbotron screen that will show a 30-second Polo spot. The moving images on the screens are designed to give the space a sense of movement and energy reminiscent of the event.
"With an estimated 600,000 visitors coming through the tennis center, we wanted the store to be able to accommodate a large amount of traffic as comfortably as possible," said Wayne Meichner, president of the Polo Retail Corp.
Industry sources said the store is bound to generate significant sales volumes, given the footfall at the tournament. They estimated the store could have more than 100,000 transactions during the weekend of the tournament's fortnight.
The store will offer a selection of Polo Ralph Lauren merchandise, including the Open's official stretch cotton mesh T-shirt designed by Ralph Lauren. The shirt, at $85 retail, has the USTA logo embroidered on the right sleeve and an embroidered, Polo-player icon on the chest.
In addition, the on-site Polo store is also a launchpad for the company's expanded Heritage Collection. While this tennis line has been a Polo staple, the company has updated it for the U.S. Open by adding about 25 styles, including a mesh tennis dress with a racerback and a pleated skirt and the U.S. Open logo on the back, for $165 retail; a cricket halter cableknit sweater dress, for $450, and a terry group with a hooded top for $95, skirt at $65 and pants for $95.The new pieces from the Heritage collection will also be available at Polo boutiques on Madison Avenue and Bleecker Street in Manhattan, as well as in East Hampton, N.Y., and New Canaan, Conn. Shoppers will take home a special duffel bag with an oversized Polo player on one side and the Open's logo on the other.
Polo also has two in-store shops selling its U.S. Open merchandise at Bloomingdale's here, said a company spokeswoman.
"By bringing our lifestyle sensibility to the U.S. Open, Ralph Lauren will redefine the way the sports enthusiast shops," said David Lauren, Polo's senior vice president of advertising, marketing and corporate communications. "We are reinventing ourselves yet again, furthering our status as the leader in luxury sports apparel."
The company is also looking beyond the boutique to give visitors a taste of the brand's lifestyle mantra. Lauren designed uniforms for line judges, umpires and ball boys and girls that are mostly navy with accents of white and red, and a version of Lauren's signature Polo-player icon.
Throughout the tournament, line judge boxes will feature the Polo Ralph Lauren brand prominently, and the video and electronic message boards will continuously air a 10-second Polo spot inside the stadiums. There will also be a 30-second Polo radio spot that will run on USTA radio and be an audio feed on open.org.
Visitors to the Open will even be able to take home limited-edition U.S. Open terry wristbands that Polo representatives will be giving away during the two weeks. They are available in white with a navy Polo pony motif or pink with a blue Polo pony.
"With this initiative, Polo Ralph Lauren is bringing a new level of luxury to the tennis arena in a way that has never been seen before at the U.S. Open or any sporting event," David Lauren said.
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