Move over skateboarding: fashion’s into tennis now

Move over skateboarding: fashion’s into tennis now

by Robyn Pullen
5 min

The year is 2020 and skateboarding is everywhere. From the sneakers on our feet to the sweatshirts on our backs, the skate industry’s laid back attitude has had the fashion industry hooked for the past decade, seen in Louis Vuitton’s move towards skate culture, Gucci x Palace collaborations, and so much more. But, in 2024, it seems fashion’s caught sight of a new sport to emulate: tennis.

Why did fashion have a thing for skateboarding?

From MSCHF sneakers designed to get shredded at the skatepark to Palace Skateboards collaborating with high fashion brands, the fashion world’s obsession with skate culture has been unmatched in recent years. Whilst other sports, like football, basketball, and even baseball, have often threatened to become a new fan favourite, evidenced by footy-themed drops from the likes of Wales Bonner and Acne Studios or Nike’s endless offering of BB-inspired sneakers, skate culture’s grip on high and low fashion hasn’t loosened for about a decade.

Since the 2010s, skateboarding brands like Stüssy, Supreme, and Palace have successfully launched themselves into the fashion sphere through collaborations with high fashion brands. Louis Vuitton joined forces with Supreme in 2017; Palace Skateboards linked up with Gucci in 2022; and Virgil Abloh even made skater and creative Lucien Clarke the first ever LV sponsored skater in 2020. Basically, you can trust that skate’s relationship with fashion was serious. 

When did fashion get a taste for tennis?

The third wheel creeping into fashion and skateboarding’s relationship was revealed earlier this year, and whilst we don’t want to blame everything on Luca Guadagnino’s Challengers movie, it seems to have been a catalyst for the industry’s new tennis obsession. Since Challengers dropped, On’s signed Zendaya (the movie’s protagonist) in a multi-year partnership, promoted by an extremely tennis-heavy campaign; Gucci dropped a new Gucci Tennis collection with a campaign starring tennis players George Loffhagen and Emma Cohen; and even Palace Skateboards has switched sides in its latest campaign, a collaboration with Stella Artois that centred around hitting the tennis court for a cold one.

We have to accept that Challengers can’t take all the credit though. Even before this year, plenty of high fashion brands had been taking note of the tennis world. In 2022, Louis Vuitton signed Spanish tennis player, Carlos Alcaraz as a house ambassador, before featuring him in its SS24 formalwear campaign. And in 2023, at the US Open, Italian player and Gucci ambassador Jannik Sinner carried a Gucci monogram duffle onto the court. Tennis has been creeping its way into high fashion, and it’s finally here with full force.

Can tennis beat out skate culture?

There are plenty of reasons that fashion’s had such a long relationship with skate culture. For one, skateboarding is a subculture that’s perceived as laid back, rebellious, and running against the status quo: simply put, skateboarders are cool. As Brendon Babenzien, former Creative Director of Supreme, once said: “Skaters are amazing, smart and creative, and people want a piece of what they have. It’s that simple.” As well as that, the style associated with skate culture is also a pretty easy aesthetic to make your own. It’s often non-branded and vintage or archival, and so can be transformed how brands like it.

Gucci©

Tennis on the other hand has a much more refined reputation. Its aesthetic is curated, branded, and extremely specific, largely because even today tennis courts come with uniform rules. Tennis as a style of clothing might predate modern skate culture, but it’s also more restrictive and harder to make your own. Whether or not 2024 is the first year of tennis’ decade within the fashion industry, we’re still waiting to find out… something tells us this trend will burn bright and fast though.

Featured image via Palace Skateboards x adidas©

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