For the first time in its 47-year history, Prince is serving up lifestyle apparel with a tennis-inspired spin.
Authentic Brands Group president Nick Woodhouse said, “When we bought the brand approximately five years ago, we had to do a little bit of fixing. It’s obviously a great global brand and it means a lot to tennis players around the world. And it has a tremendous heritage. The beauty of it was that it wasn’t tarnished in any way. It’s very evergreen, much like the color of the logo.”
The first lifestyle collection will be rolled out this fall with DYNE, a minimalistic men’s wear brand that melds the athletic with urban. The label’s founder and creative director Chris Bevans has worked with an assortment of brands over the years including Nike, Sean John, Rocawear and Billionaire Boys Club. A winner of the regional Woolmark Prize, he debuted the technical-inspired Dyne two years ago during Men’s Fashion Week.
His inaugural effort for the Dyne x Prince will debut at Lane Crawford. ABG plans to follow that with a collaboration with the streetwear label Publish for spring 2018. Before deciding on this route, ABG wanted to be sure the tennis business was solid around the world, as is the case with China, Japan and other parts of Asia, as well as Europe and the U.S. Woodhouse said. “With the 28 brands that we own, we get a lot of pitch traffic of people coming to us saying they would like to partner with our brands whether that would be Juicy Couture, Greg Norman, Marilyn Monroe or Shaquille O’Neal. It’s a good problem to have. Very often we turn some people away,” he said. “But these two folks came to us with a story, particularly Dyne.”
Bevans’ track record with Nike as global design director for urban apparel was a selling point, as was the fact he is an avid tennis player. Having first picked up a tennis racquet at the age of seven, Bevans said he currently plays twice a week. Tennis-themed films like “Battle of the Sexes” and the upcoming “Borg/McEnroe” are giving the sport a special moment in pop culture, Bevans said.”It is not just for elitists who play it in the club but kids from around the world are enjoying the sport at all different levels.”
Fashion-forward pros like Venus and Serena Williams — as well as Maria Sharapova, who wore a Swarovski-encrusted tennis dress designed by Riccardo Tisci for Nike — are furthering interest. The same might be said of Pharrell Williams’ tennis-skewed collaboration with Adidas last season, Bevans said. Retailing from $150 to $240, Dyne x Prince will consist of athletic type pieces, workout pieces and four-way stretch shorts. Each item will be embedded with Dyne data chips so that the wearer can review detailed product information, the history of the sport and brand information. The color palette will feature tennis court-appropriate white or black with the pop of pea green.
As for how much additional business these two collaborations may generate, Woodhouse said, “It will be material but not gigantic. These collections are more to set the halo for the brand. I see it more as a collaboration that will enable Prince to get into more tony stores around the world, particularly Lane Crawford.”
From a branding standpoint, the decision “means a tremendous amount,” he said. “We are now putting Prince in the sphere of an athletic brand that can translate to lifestyle. Obviously, many have come before us like Nike and Adidas. You see Under Armour. It’s a difficult thing to do but I think Prince has more permission to do that because tennis is an off-court, on-court business.”