Marguerite Wade launched her tennis line, Full Court, in April 2014. Her second collection is due out this April. We had a chat with Marguerite about her rookie year taking on the world of athletic wear.
That’s not to say that I think players shouldn’t wear skirts; it’s just at times I think the power game is at odds with the dres
Can you tell me a little about your own tennis background? How long have you been playing? Do you take lessons? Were you on your school team?
I played tennis when I was younger. I went to tennis camp and took lessons from two guys that came up through a city program. They were tough!I loved it but had a difficult time with the mental toughness required as a player out there all alone on a court. As I got older I gravitated towards team sports in which I excelled. I was an all star field hockey player (another sport with skirts?!) I went to Bard College which isn’t much of a sports school, but I would hit around with the tennis “team” during the Fall and Spring. I really enjoy hitting, but I also love of the game as a longtime spectator. It’s a great sport to follow and I’ve gotten a number of people into the game. It’s also a life long sport! There are not many games you can play well into your older age…I’m often hitting next to old timers.
Do you have a doubles partner?
Doubles is so fun to play. Lots of high fives. I don’t have a regular doubles partner at the moment but I’m hoping to play more this summer. It helps with those quick reflexes.
Who are some of the important fashion icons in tennis for you?
Remember the ubiquitous Sergio Tacchini sweat suits?! Before my time, but I remember that was the look of a tennis player (mens, more so). Chrissy Evert back in the day had some great looks. Of course I have to mention the Williams sisters– my generation, and though there were some missteps along the way (denim tennis moment from Serena) the fashion was aligned with an energy and a spirit of the changing game. Agassi was like that a bit. It’s hard not to think about the fashion in reference to the way they play. For example, I love the class the Federer brings onto the court, fashion and otherwise.
What makes tennis apparel unique among sportswear?
For starters in women’s it’s unique to play a modern day sport in a short skirt. The traditional women’s ‘uniform’ has stayed the same even though the style of play has changed dramatically. That’s not to say that I think players shouldn’t wear skirts; it’s just at times I think the power game is at odds with the dress. But obviously I like the look! I have tennis skirts in my collection and also did a tennis dress.
You’re quite a polymath; how does fashion design integrate with the other aspects of your professional life?
Before starting Full Court my role in fashion was as a Set & Production Designer. I worked with some amazing photographers and clients including Annie Leibovitz, Mark Seliger, Vogue, Vanity Fair, etc. In addition to being a visually demanding job, it also requires a lot of resourcefulness– the ability to find and make anything– it was in that spirit that I tackled Full Court. I started researching activewear like I would any other project. Where is activewear mainly done? Where is NIKE based?… Portland Oregon! That brought me to Portland to source fabrics, and the resources were all there. The rest is history.
Tennis shoes have a long and storied history. Which ones would you pair with a Full Court?
Well there’s style and then there’s function! For years I bought boys shoes because the colors were better–cooler. Now they have great color ways for women too. I think anything with a little bit of street cool always works with Full Court.
How has the cultural significance of tennis changed since, say, 1980 when it figured so predominantly as a style in the Preppy Handbook?
I remember watching as a young girl and there were so few players of color on the court. I had a poster of Michael Chang on the back of my bedroom door I think partially because, well, he had won, but also because he represented something new in tennis. I remember Malivia Washington (not just for the great name) Zina Garrison was a bit before my time but I knew she was important. Then the Williams sisters came onto the scene. So much changed with them in my mind. And outside them being black, sisters playing each other as the best in the game is just so exciting.
Any tips for those of us working on our backhands?
I use a two handed backhand. The backhand is my favorite stroke. I’ve always been able to strike it hard on the backhand side.
Use your legs!