Fabletics is the latest fashion brand to embrace tennis

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Fashion has a tennis fever.

Whether through a short term collaboration or a permanent track, Louis Vuitton and Lululemon are just a few of the brands that have recently become involved in the sport. The newest brand to take part is Fabletics. The active-wear brand launched its first official tennis collection on May 12, a co-branded clothing line with tennis company Universal Tennis, which runs the Universal Tennis Ratings Pro Tour competition. Both brands will market the line through their various marketing channels including in-store events. Fabletics will be the official retailer and sponsor of the UTR Pro Tour.

Ryan Heller, Fabletics’ head of marketing, said one area the brand is exploring is sponsorship with athletes, although it hasn’t appointed any specific athlete as an ambassador. “High performance brand [like Nike or Adidas] have usurped big names, but tennis still has a lot of empty space,” he said.

The Fabletics line includes skirts, shorts, sweatpants, polo shirts, T-shirts, sweaters and protectors, ranging from $18-$60. This price point puts it slightly below similar tennis offerings from Nike. The style from the Nike capsule collection with tennis stars like Naomi Osaka and Rafael Nadal retails for $100.

Tennis is just the latest in Fabletics’ focus on a new category after launching lounges in December 2021 and swimming in March 2022. Fabletics is looking to expand into any category that sees growth potential.

“We listen to our consumers and pay attention to what’s happening in the world,” said Heller. “All the category expansions you see from us are because people have asked for them. Some have developed over a year or so, and some are faster. Tennis may take about a year and a half from start to finish [to launch].”

Heller said category expansion, particularly in areas adjacent to athletics, is likely to come in the future as part of the brand’s future growth strategy.

Tennis has garnered a lot of attention, thanks to a surge in interest during the pandemic. In 2020, the sport is growing in popularity by over 22%, and increasing by 27% in 2021. In April, fashion brand Sporty & Rich released a tennis-inspired collection, Lululemon launched a tennis category in late March, and Louis Vuitton previewed the collection. tennis ball called “Match” in April which includes a bag with tennis balls as zipper pulls. On Monday, Michael Kors released a collaboration with Italian sportswear brand Ellesse featuring tennis apparel and a tennis-themed campaign featuring Emily Ratajkowski.

New brands devoted to tennis apparel have been launched in the last year such as Furi Sport last July and Jgame at the end of April. Existing tennis giants like Lacoste have seen growth, because new interest in sports. Lacoste’s parent company, Maus Freres, generated more than $5 billion in the first year of the pandemic, up from $3.4 billion before the pandemic, more than half of which came from Lacoste.

“The pandemic is good for tennis,” said Robert Aldrich, CEO of Lacoste North America, speaking to Glossy in March. “This is one of the beneficiaries of the pandemic. It’s a social distancing sport, you can do it and stay safe.”

In fact, 21 million Americans started playing tennis for the first time in 2020. Since then, the tennis star has become an even bigger celebrity. For example, Naomi Osaka became an in-game fixture at Fortnite, joined the likes of Lebron James, and has struck major fashion deals with Louis Vuitton, Nike, and Comme des Garçons. And tennis-influenced styles are visible even outside of specialty tennis collections, such as the UpWest athletic tank gown.

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