Fred Perry

Fred Perry was a self-taught British tennis player who won three consecutive Wimbledon from 1934 to 1936, and, winning the French Championships in 1935, he was the first one ever to gain a Career Grand Slam title. In the late 40s, an Australian football player approached the tennis champion to produce a knitted cotton pique shirt with a buttoned placket that resembled Lacoste’s shirts, giving birth to the signature polo shirt. The signature Fred Perry polo debuted on Wimbledon field in 1952, initially produced only in white and black, branded with an embroidered laurel wreath on the chest in a nod to the English tournament logo. Consequently, the tennis shirt spread into table tennis competitions, supplemented with new colored versions. Despite his sporting merits, Fred Perry’s lower social extraction and questionable behavior have never been accepted by the elitist tennis environment. The shirt became a uniform for British sub-cultures. Mods were the first to embrace polo shirts in the 1950s. For them social differences were canceled by wearing the unmistakable collared shirt, driving Vespas, and listening to ska, rock-steady and northern soul, anticipating the forthcoming Skinhead movement. The skinhead's community adopted skinny jeans and cargo pants with suspenders, paired with bomber jackets - above all Alpha Industries MA-1 with orange lining – or Harrington jackets. Dr. Martens boots complete the look with a button-up polo shirt. The shirt, worn under a waxed jacket, like Barbour, became unmissable for casual football supporters. In the early 90s, Fred Perry was finally freed up from the association with far-right and violent movements, when the shirt was adopted by the upcoming Britpop and English Rock panorama, engaging the social anger against institutions and the edginess of the previous skinhead movement without nationalist sentiments. Oasis, Blur, Pete Doherty, and Amy Winehouse later contributed significantly to elevating what was born initially as a simple tennis shirt to a worldwide symbol of counterculture.

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