Melbourne’s summer weather drives fashion at the Australian Open. With tennis companies pulling out all the technology they can muster to help athletes beat the heat, newfangled cooling elements will be coupled with summer colors for both modern and classic designs throughout the tournament.
Let’s walk through what we’ll see at this year’s Australian Open:
With a mix of athletes, from the fashion-solidified Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams to the youthful, fashion-forward Genie Bouchard and Nick Kyrgios, Nike has a mix of looks for this tournament, but all with a consistent theme: colors and stripes inspired by Melbourne.
Joe Serino, NikeCourt vice president of apparel, says that the first order of design was dealing with the weather. “The elements impact athlete performance, so we try to mitigate that as best we can with our apparel design,” he says. “The Australian Open is famous for its heat, so our looks for the tournament incorporate material innovations that help keep athletes cool and dry.”
A first for tennis, Nadal’s crew shirt includes AeroReact technology, a “smart fabric that reacts to the individual athlete’s condition.” The more Nadal sweats, the more the yarn opens for breathability. Elsewhere in the tennis line expect new Dri-Fit mesh in Bouchard’s dress.
No matter the technology, Nike has opted for primary colors with plenty of stripes. Serino says Melbourne’s love of sport goes beyond tennis and Nike wanted to celebrate that with a design inspired by classic sport apparel and uniforms. “By combining traditional aesthetic elements with modern silhouettes, we’re creating a healthy tension between the past and the future,” he says.
For the bigger names, Serena will wear a two-piece with a modern crop top and micro-pleated skirt to accentuate her personal style, Maria Sharapova returns to her traditional dress and Federer will be in a polo with a new style of collar that reduces the weight of the shirt in the heat, but still has the sophistication he’s known for.
“There is a classic elegance to Roger’s style of play that we try to match with our apparel,” Serino says. But Federer still wants to have fun, which is why Nike has started adding in more neon, bright shades that Federer wore early in his career.
But not every player has a classic reverence in their style, whether it's in Nadal's colorful kits, the variegated stripes of Bouchard’s dress or the wildness of Kyrgios, who's look was inspired by the beach culture of his native country. “You see tanks everywhere this time of year in Australia,” Serino says. “They’re young, edgy and ideal for the heat of summer.”
Caroline Wozniacki will lead off the adidas by Stella McCartney line with shades of pink, while the Ana Ivanovic-led Australian Open Collection—also worn by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Simona Halep and Jack Sock—offers up bright colors.
Wozniacki will go light orange in her new Stella-designed Boost Primeknit shoe for lightweight cushioning. The pink hued dress includes ClimaCool and mesh. “I need to be able to rely on my outfit to enhance my performance,” she says. “Keeping cool on the court is an absolute must.”
The bright color scheme of the brand’s mainline, inspired by the German Bauhaus art style, includes stacked graphics with letters subliminally spelling “TENNIS.” Ivanovic will wear a new three-in-one dress with integrated sports bra and shorts, while Halep will go with a pleated skirt with tank. Expect Sock in a hand-printed orange and yellow shirt with black, surfboard-style shorts. Tsonga will stick to an aqua-green polo and black Bermuda shorts.
“We wanted to create a range that embodies the Australian Open tournament, with bold summer colors and clean, functional looks,” says Lotta Jurica, adidas design director.
While Nike’s Australian Open fashion will stay in Australia, offering new styles from Grand Slam to Grand Slam, adidas will carry its design theme throughout the year.
Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, sneakers and design for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.