Championship-winning English tennis player Fred Perry and cult British designer Nigel Cabourn are akin in their love for table tennis. With Fred Perry first becoming World Champion of table tennis in 1929 before pursuing his tennis career and Nigel a self-confessed fan who plays at least five times a week with an ex-England pro.
Fred Perry prides itself on being the first British heritage brand to successfully blend sportswear with streetwear to create some of the most iconic styles of the last century. The brand was born in the late 1940s, when former Austrian footballer Tibby Wegner approached three-time Wimbledon champion Fred Perry with an idea. Their initial venture was the very first sweatband, which was quickly adopted by tennis players across the courts of Britain. In 1952 the pair launched what was to be Fred Perry’s most famous garment: a slim fit cotton pique shirt with Laurel Wreath embroidery. From the beginning, Fred Perry – and the tipped pique shirt in particular – has been associated with a series of subcultures driven by musical affinities. Mods, skinheads, suedeheads, soul boys, rude boys, two tone. The original Fred Perry cotton pique shirt is still made to the same high standards and remains synonymous with underground fashion and British cool.
Meanwhile, Nigel Cabourn has worked in the fashion industry for over 40 years producing collections which are not influenced by “fashion” trends but driven by inspirational stories of real people in history and vintage military, outdoor and workwear pieces. A passionate and avid collector of vintage clothing, he has amassed an archive of over 4,000 pieces – unearthed from all corners of the globe. It is from this ever-increasing archive that Nigel draws inspiration for styles, fabrics and details to ensure that each collection has a real story, sense of history, and integrity. To this day, Nigel remains the hands-on driving force behind the Nigel Cabourn brands – Authentic and Mainline – working closely with his design and production teams and various collaborators to produce around 18 collections each year.
The two iconic British brands have at last come together for a spring/summer collaboration. Styles, fabrics, and trims in the collection are inspired directly by those worn in the 1950s by Fred Perry and five-time World Champion table tennis player Victor Barna.
“Fred Perry is a brand that I think runs in some ways parallel to the Nigel Cabourn brand: both are truly British brands inspired by British heritage and British manufacturing,” says Nigel. “I think a lot of Fred Perry and Nigel Cabourn fans alike will be pleased we have finally come together on this collaboration.”
The Fred Perry x Nigel Cabourn Spring/Summer 2015 capsule collection is now available at select retailers.
- Photography: Robert Wunsch for Highsnobiety