Fred Perry | The Man Behind The Label
October 23, 2023
For many people, the name of Fred Perry is synonymous with great clothing and a truly iconic British brand. There should be no surprise with this, as the label has managed to combine streetwear and sportswear in an almost effortless fashion to ensure that the brand remains as popular today as it has ever been.
The Fred Perry label came into being when tennis great Fred Perry was approached with an interesting proposal. Australian Tibby Wegner, a footballer, approached Perry with the idea of creating a sweatband, a garment that was very swiftly seized upon by tennis players across the country. This success led the pair to think of other avenues and in 1952, the most iconic of Fred Perry pieces were released. Even to this day, there are few items of clothing that can compete with the style and versatility of the slim fit pique shirt, made from cotton, with an embroidered laurel wreath.
While starting off as sportswear, over the years, different youth culture groups have seized upon the stylish yet flexible nature of the fashion wear, with mod culture being notably linked to the brand. If you were going to party all night, you wanted to ensure that you were partying in clothes that looked great and that would ensure all of the punishment and wear and tear dished out to it. For mods that were always on the go, Fred Perry clothing fitted the bill perfectly. It was no surprise that in the mod revival of the late 1970s and the mod influenced Britpop era, Fred Perry clothing was at the forefront of what the generation was wearing.
A British icon
While you could argue that even without Fred Perry, this sort of clothing range would emerge somewhere, it would be wrong to overlook the impact that Perry had on the range. There is no getting away from the fact that the sporting nature of the range, coupled to a noble sense of Britishness, adds to the appeal and charm of the clothing. When allied to the RAF roundel commonly adopted by mods too, it is easy to see that the Fred Perry range was not just about looking great, it was about tieing together a number of the strands that would influence the clothes and the people who wore them.
Due to the legacy of the fashion range, it would be easy to overlook the sporting impact that Fred Perry had in the United Kingdom. Given that Andy Murray’s success in the US Open of 2012 was the first time a British man had won a Grand Slam event since Perry triumphed in the US Open in 1936! This gives an indication of how high Perry had set the bar with regards to tennis triumph and his full list of honours is well worth acquainting yourself with.
Major tennis success for Perry
With respect to Grand Slam success, Fred Perry managed to achieve 8 Grand Slam titles in between 1933 and 1934. The first success came in the US Open of 1933, but 1934 and 1935 saw Perry take a stranglehold on the tennis circuit. 1934 saw Perry triumph at the Australian Open, Wimbledon and again he took the trophy at the US Open. In 1935, success at the French Open and Wimbledon followed while in 1936, Perry was triumphant again at Wimbledon and at the US Open.
Three Wimbledon titles in a row allied to three US Open success and a single success in France and Australia completed his Grand Slam haul. At one point, Perry held all four Grand Slams at the same time (although not in the same season), a remarkable achievement and he was the first tennis player to achieve this.
With two Pro Slam successes and four triumphs in the Davis Cup, Fred Perry could easily claim to be one of the greatest and most decorated sportsmen that Britain has ever produced. It isn’t commonly known but Perry was also a celebrated table tennis player, winning a world championship in 1929. This saw Perry hailed as the only player who has clinched a major in both table tennis and tennis.
Whether you want to hail Perry for his success on the tennis courts or in creating one of the most enduring and iconic British brands, there is no doubt that Fred Perry was a champion at life. Countless mods will no doubt tip their hat to his memory and enduring work for many years to come.