LONDON — Polo Ralph Lauren landed in one of its ideal spots on Wednesday — on Wimbledon's Centre Court.
Polo, the grass court tournament's first official outfitter, unveiled its uniforms for umpires, line judges and ball persons. The cool, collegiate capsule collection will make its official debut on the first day of Wimbledon on June 26 and looks as if it's been pulled from the wardrobes of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor or the Mitford girls.
Umpires and judges will wear navy wool flannel blazers with cream piping and a large purple-and-green crest on the pocket. The words on the crest read "The Championships Wimbledon" and "Polo Ralph Lauren."
The women will wear cream fluted skirts with a Twenties feel, while the men will don matching, slightly baggy trousers. Both will wear blue-and-white-striped shirts.
Uniforms for the men and women picking up balls are less retro and more performance-oriented. Both will wear classic navy polo shirts with an enlarged white polo pony, while men will wear navy cotton twill shorts, and women will appear in matching short cotton skirts with kick pleats.
"At Polo, we've always been inspired by Wimbledon, and we thought this was the perfect opportunity for us," said David Lauren, Polo's senior vice president of advertising, marketing and corporate communications.
Under a five-year deal with the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, which stages the championships, Polo will dress all on-court staff. Polo is the first apparel outfitter in Wimbledon's 129-year history.
Most recently, Wimbledon officials wore unremarkable uniforms: green jackets, with frumpy green skirts or khaki trousers. The club had created everything in-house and style clearly wasn't a priority.
Lauren said the company trawled through the Wimbledon photo archives before putting the collection together — and came up with a few surprises. "Before the green uniforms came along, the umpires and judges just wore their own clothes, so we really didn't have anything specific to re-create," he said.
"What you're seeing today is what we imagined existed, but never actually did. It's what we feel the uniforms should have looked like. It's about Ralph Lauren looking back, but also moving forward."And that's just fine by the Wimbledon folks. "It was the right time to have a change, and we felt there was a fantastic fit between Ralph Lauren and Wimbledon," said Ian Ritchie, chief executive of the club.
"We want to be seen as innovative, bright and fresh, and we want to be associated with the world's great designers. Until now, it's been unusual for us to be seen in the fashion pages," he added.
The athletic arena is a growing focus for Polo. In addition to the Wimbledon deal, the company last year became the apparel sponsor of the U.S. Open tennis tournament — like Wimbledon, a Grand Slam event. Earlier this year, Polo began sponsoring teen LPGA golfer Morgan Pressel.
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