By  on July 13, 2005

NEW YORK — The tennis courts at the U.S. Open next month will be quite the fashion environs.

As part of a partnership deal Polo Ralph Lauren inked with the United States Tennis Association in March, Ralph Lauren has designed the uniforms for line judges, umpires and ball boys and girls, at the Grand Slam tournament. Lauren focused on navy as the key color, and accented the designs with touches of white and red. The jackets, shirts, shorts, skirts or track pants feature the U.S. Open logo and a five-inch, oversize version of Lauren's signature polo-player icon. The uniforms will complement the look of the courts, which will be blue for the first time this year.

"White is not allowed on court for ball persons," a Polo spokeswoman explained. "Navy with white and red accents seem to go with the American spirit of the tournament and the partnership with a brand that is synonymous with American heritage."

While creating the outfits, Lauren took into consideration New York's late summer heat, and the fact that ball boys and girls spend most of the match scurrying around the courts. To that end, he culled high-performance fabrics from Polo Ralph Lauren's RLX brand, including a technical mesh that dries faster than a classic mesh, and an "airflow" jersey that dries faster and has more durability than regular jersey.

"On-court temperatures can reach upward of 105 degrees, so it is important that the fabrics use moisture-management technology," the spokeswoman said. "That fabrics allow for freedom of movement is also a key component."

Lauren's uniforms are expected to increase Polo's brand recognition globally. The U.S. Open attracts over 600,000 visitors annually and is watched on television by over 86 million viewers around the world.

In addition to the on-court uniforms, Lauren created the U.S. Open's official shirt, which launched at select Ralph Lauren stores and at last month. The shirt has the USTA logo embroidered on the right sleeve and an embroidered, oversize polo-player icon at the chest. The shirt, which retails for $85, is made from the brand's signature stretch-cotton mesh.

Visitors to the tournament will be able to shop for Polo merchandise at a 3,500-square-foot boutique that will offer an assortment of Ralph Lauren tennis gear, including tennis dresses, totes and official caps. The store will be open during the Aug. 29-Sept. 11 tournament.Polo is the U.S. Open's official apparel sponsor for at least four years. As part of its commitment to tennis, the company recently signed up-and-coming tennis player Scott Oudsema, who will be wearing Lauren designs on the court and star in the company's national ad campaign this summer.

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