An interview with Wilson’s ace tennis designer Claire Ortiz.
Wilson has just released its third full tennis fashion collection, since its revitalization. "Future Modern," as it's called, will be worn by the 18 players now wearing Wilson on tour. Anne Keothavong, Alex Kusnetsov, Jarkko Nieminen and those pictured here are just a handful.
What aspects of designing for tennis do you enjoy most? I love the beginning stages, the research that goes into the colors and designs. I hit trade shows, auto shows, fashion shows all over the world and spend a lot of time researching fabrics and colors. It's 3 to 4 months before designs are put to paper.
Where do you pull inspiration from? I pull trends from all over the world. I love looking at what designers like Alexander McQueen and Chanel do, for example. Their crafting, detailing, pleats, turn of a cuff, or use of color is always wonderful. I'm a stickler for beautifully crafted products.
Isn't it hard to incorporate these kinds of fashion details into performance products? It's challenging. Yes, we want our garments to be beautiful but the technical component to the pieces is critical. I want an athlete to put something on and never have to adjust it, no matter how hard they are working. A detail can be lovely but if it's going to irritate in any way it cannot be incorporated. I want my garments to feel as if they are not there.
Has fabric technology changed the design process? I spend a lot of time choosing materials and do exhaustive fit testing. I'm always looking for new fabrics that will make the athlete more comfortable and the options are growing. New to our 2012 lines are liquid stretch and 3 color burnout which translates to ease of movement and seamless construction. When added to an already lightweight and breathable fabrication the technology makes a big difference to the athlete.
Do your athletes get to offer their input? Absolutely, and there are some that have more opinions than others. Philipp Kohlshreiber has some very specific ideas about what's cool and trendy and Melanie Oudin lends a young freshness to what we put together.
Do you see big differences worldwide in what recreational players wear on court? Color is viewed differently in different regions. Latin America loves color as does Spain, Italy and France. In the US, color is accepted; women enjoy it and it's growing on men. Car colors have always been most comfortable with American guys but as auto manufacturers move into brighter hues, so do US men.
Fit is a little different worldwide. US men tend to like their clothing looser than their European counterparts. Women are really the most progressive gender and have a broader acceptance within the women's range worldwide.
What about age? How do you design for the wide variety of ages playing tennis?10 -15 years ago the perception was that women were not young at age 35. That notion is gone and women are working harder to stay fit and they want to feel good about themselves. They want fashionable and fun and choose what feels and looks good no matter the style.
Check out the collection as it rolls out soon at tennis retailers worldwide including Tennis-Warehouse. Me? I'm getting that Sweet Spot set no question.