Fashion From the Edge - Fred Perry Polo Shirt
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Fashion From the Edge – Fred Perry Polo Shirt

Launching first into red, then in an all-black-and-white color-way meant to mock the classic Wimbledon black kit, Fred Perry has grown into a major sporting icon in the UK. His colourful clothing and attitude have endeared him not only to the British public but also to the world. He has entertained royalty, dignitaries, sports celebrities, film stars and everyone in between. No matter where you are in the world, you can always be sure of seeing a Fred Perry quiz.

British polo players have been emulating Fred Perry since their days at school. The “pervy” Brits have been dressing like a British royalty for as long as there have been golf shirts. But as well as their suits and neckties, they have also been sporting the same polo shirts that their tennis stars wear.

The birth of the “heavy Fred Perry” brand dates back almost 50 years. It all began in September 1963 when William Farley took up a project as a salesman for J.P. Tranter’s Polo Ltd., which was the official supplier of the British Army’s dress uniforms. Having the same logo as his much-loved tennis star mother, Tranter saw an opportunity for a marketing partnership and became the first official sponsor of Perry’s brand.

The success of the campaign led to other prominent British brands following suit and emulating the “heavy Fred Perry” look. Britain’s most famous stock broker Lord Woolworth became a big fan of the brand and even hosted a number of charity matches on his yacht, while Sir Roger Clark became a regular on the Fred Perry circuit. Other top class figures such as Sir Paul McCartney and James Bond’s old roadblock-man, Micky Mulcahy have also donned the bright red polo shirt and matched them with classy sports attire. It wasn’t long before other major corporations and celebrities joined in the fashion bandwagon and released their own versions of the polo shirts.

The fad had taken such a big hit by the time the Beatles were playing out their last song with their band that they made it into the pop charts. Their song, “I Want To Hold Your Hand”, reached number one in the UK and was an incredible achievement for any artist to have in that day. The next big British brand to adopt the fad was comedy group Seaweed, with their song, “haircut”. The brand, which was run by none other than comedian John Cleese, went on to sell over twenty million copies of that single, making it one of the biggest-selling comedy albums of all time. All of this has made “fred Perry” a global brand and although he hasn’t released an album in the States since he retired, it is still a major hit in his home country of Australia.

A similar situation happened with the British band Oasis when their band’s logo was changed to a flame with the words “Live’s Love Los Angeles” emblazoned across it. This was a very subtle change and there weren’t too many complaints. This led to their album, “ottonmouth” being sold even more widely and in the process their image was redone multiple times in a short period of time. Many in the fashions industry and in the general public alike, thought that Oasis had completely destroyed their original image and branded themselves as “tacky”, posers and rather boring.

The far-right skinhead movement in England didn’t quite make a big impact until the late eighties. This was actually a good thing because as this far-right fringe group gained popularity, major record labels began to give the far-right skinheads plenty of airplay and eventually their music and lyrics spread all over the world. The English rock band Bauhaus was also very popular amongst the English far-right skinhead community and their guitarist was well-known for his extreme skinhead/neoclassicism style of music and his refusal to sign a non-skinhead singles deal with major label. He was very popular with the English far-right scene.

Today, it seems as if the fashions and styles of the eighties and nineties are taking a modernizes approach. The days of biker t-shirts and ratty haircuts are gone and instead new trends are arising. Fred Perry has made a conscious effort to launch a modern line of clothing and show a bit of his street smartness and sense of humour. He is also doing a lot to publicize his brand. Recently he released his own perfume and also teamed up with an Italian designer, Mario Moretti, who designed the famous Moncler sandals.

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