[Editor’s Note: Tennis coverage has become so indistinguishable from People magazine that I now find it largely unwatchable, even with the U.S. Open taking place in my back yard. Fortunately, reader Brinke Guthrie has volunteered to offer some thoughts on tennis attire, past and present. — PL]
By Brinke Guthrie
Things started changing in the mid-’70s, when Fila signed Bjorn Borg as their first poster boy and created a line called White Line Fila. They had signed Italian matinee idol Adriano Panatta (who would move to his own line), but Borg was their choice for global assimilation. Oops, wrong Borg, but you get the idea. Fila also had climbing and skiing gear (called White Rock Fila), and there was a swimming line (Aqua Time Fila, I believe).
Borg was also one of the first guys — or maybe the first — to wear sponsor patches on his sleeves and even his headband (now a no-no). These days he sells underwear — a far cry from the days when he’d hang out in front of his Monte Carlo sports store.
Next: Guillermo Vilas. Whereas Borg’s Fila line had the now-famous F/Bj patch, Vilas’s line had the “F” logo on the chest and “Vilas” on his sleeve and shorts. Willy must have been jealous, because a “GV” patch soon appeared on his shorts, but it always looked like it was added on after the fact. He eventually switched to Ellesse clothing (stands for L.S., or Leonardo Servadio, the founder).
John McEnroe wore Fila in his college days (dig the groovy Hang Ten socks on Connors). But when he went pro, he signed with Sergio Tacchini (whose name sounds like a 1980s designer jeans label, but he was actually an Italian Davis Cup player) before ending up as a Nike symbol.
Martina Navratilova has been all over the place, and at one time was with a minor Italian company called Kim Top Line. Truly horrible — their only color scheme was orange and yellow, and it reminded me a little of this guy.
You also have Venus and her budget Eleven line (which she’s sticking with despite the Steve & Barry’s mess), Rafael Nadal growing up, the style hysteria with Maria Sharapova, and fashion disasters like this and this. And don’t even get me started on those cheap logo patches that show up just for the Open.
Little Bit: Paul here. Remember last Friday’s entry on Scott Little and his big jersey and sneaker collection? One thing I neglected to mention: At one point Scott told me, “I don’t know what to do with all this stuff. A shop would be cool, except I don’t wanna be a shopkeeper. Maybe a museum..?” I urged him to go ahead with that (he could start with a little display space at the bowling center he co-owns), but he was sorta stand-off-ish about it. “C’mon,” I insisted, “there are all sorts of quirky little museums these days. People would LOVE it!”
Somehow he remained unmoved, but I meant to include all of that in my original post about Scott, because I figured there’d be an outpouring of support for his museum concept. Since I forgot, I wrote to him a few days later and said, “Wanna whip up a little something about your collection quandary?” Here’s what he sent back:
Hmmm, a uniform museum. Is there such a thing out there? I’m not talking one sport, because of course you can go to the whatever hall of fame and see plenty of unis for that sport. But where does it all come together under one roof? The uniqueness of each sport’s uniform, each sport’s shoes, each sport’s clothing timeline, and maybe even uniforms of sports beyond the big four here in the U.S.
Maybe a better question is, is it feasible? Is a jersey and shoe museum something the public would even care about? Yes, there are plenty of jersey and shoe buffs out there that would surely come check it out (like that like-minded weirdo who recently visited my house), but are there ENOUGH of them?
Also: If such a museum existed, would it need to be in New York or Los Angeles? Maybe Portland, due to the Nike connection?
As I ponder such a project, these are the questions I think about the most. I’m interested in what the Uni Watch audience thinks. Not interested in generic comments like, “I guess it depends on how much work/money you’d want to put into it” — give me some specifics.
So there you go. Wanna offer feedback to Scott? Feel free to contact him here.
At least I remembered to feed the cats: Crazy afternoon yesterday. About halfway through my live web chat over on that other web site, the phone rang. Although it was hard to tear myself away from compelling questions like “Are there any new NFL uni changes this year?” and “Have you seen that new OKC logo yet?,” I somehow forced myself to pick up the receiver. It was the Bengals PR office, informing me that they’d decided to let Chad Johnson wear “Ocho Cinco” on his jersey.
This was kinda fun, because it allowed me to break the news right there in the middle of the chat — “You heard it here first!” and all that. But I knew I’d have to rewrite the first portion of yesterday’s ESPN column as soon as the chat was over, since the column had just gone live a few hours before the Bengals’ announcement.
Then, about 45 seconds after sending that rewrite off to my editors, I got word that Idaho had decided to scrap that butt logo that had caused so much controversy over the past few days, which meant I had to rewrite another part of the column. And then, just as I was sending that in, someone informed me that the Niners had announced their throwback dates, so I figured we might as well add that to the column as well, because nothing makes my editors happier than when I keep sending them revisions late in the day.
So: Then a quick bike ride, during which I got a flat, then off to Manhattan for a friend’s gallery opening (awesome show — highly recommended to all NYCers), then back home to Brooklyn, where I was relieved not to find anything else in my in-box that would require a rewrite. It occurred to me that I hadn’t given any thought to dinner, so I sautéed some tomatoes from my garden. As I sat down to eat them, I suddenly realized I’d missed the first half of the Giants/’Skins game.
So how was your day?
Uni Watch News Ticker: FIFA has put a new patch on Italy’s soccer jersey. “The Squadra Azzurra are the first national team to receive this badge, which from now on will be awarded after every FIFA World Cup finals competition,” writes Jeremy Brahm. “The reigning world champions will be able to wear the badge until the next FIFA World Cup.” Details and additional pics here. … Yesterday I mentioned a great video clip of a h.s. football team “earning” its helmet decals. But in a really brilliant move, I forgot to include the link until now (with apologies to Steve Johnston). … When I say that companies like Nike and Reebok are ruining sports, I obviously don’t know what I’m talking about. … Best commentary yet on the new OKC logo (courtesy of John Lesnik). … Latest problem for the Cool Base jerseys: The gussets appear to be yellowing as the season wears on (thanks to Jeff Scott). … The Canucks are going to retire Trevor Linden’s number. … Good interview here with the Blackhawks’ equipment manager (with thanks to Rick Welker). … I don’t mean to mention Sarah Palin every day, honest, but it’s worth noting that the only photo I’ve seen of her daughter’s husband-to-be shows him wearing a hockey uniform. … David Pegram notes that prior to 1975, the “5” used by the Steelers looked like this, but then it changed to this. “Sometimes after the older 5 would reappear, as with Terry Hanratty in SB X,” he adds. “Hanratty would have an old 5 on the chest and back and a new 5 on the shoulders.” … Did you know motorcycle daredevils used to wear leather football helmets? It’s true (great find by Ryan Rice). … Subtle. … Well, that didn’t take long. … Even if you don’t care about the CFL (I certainly don’t), you should check out this Q&A with Edmonton Eskimos wide receiver Kamau Peterson, in which he talks about his uniform and the detail that goes into it on game day. Good stuff (with thanks to Glenn Cook). … Reprinted from last night’s comments: There was a decal malfunction for the ages during a high school game last night (ace screen-grab work by Doug Keklak). … Does this look like something you’d wanna wear? Yeah, me neither. Fortunately, we don’t play for the Rays (with thanks to Brinke Guthrie). … Yesterday’s mention of that NFL/Sears bedsheet that I scored in an upstate Salvo led Scott Mason to break out his old, faded blanket of similar vintage. The fadedness enhances the nostalgic effect, and I really like how the logos overlap. … Surely there’s a foam-finger joke just waiting to be made here. … I love the color green — but I don’t know if I love it this much. … You’d think Joe Skiba would have been out celebrating after last night’s Giants win, but instead he was e-mailing to tell me that Chris Cooley’s new helmet is the latest version of the Riddell Revolution, the Revolution Speed. … Really great post here about the evolution of brand logos (big thanks to Mike Etheridge). … While looking for something else, I came across this — nice. … Mike Cooperman has posted photos of his pennant collection. … As for today’s headline, I was referring, of course, to Jen’s shoplifting mug shot.