"We were a little bit envious of our horticultural colleagues. The precision, the attention to detail, the ownership and the pride they took in their 'product'"
Why? Well, we were a little bit envious of our horticultural colleagues. The precision, the attention to detail, the ownership and the pride they took in their ‘product’. So, since imitation is still the sincerest form of flattery, we took a long hard look at our range of over 400 products. And we asked ourselves; “How many demonstrate the level of attention to detail used by our Groundstaff?” The answer was “Not enough”. The collection was attractive and there were some lines which met our new criteria. We also had great products supplied by our partners at Ralph Lauren, Christy Towels and Babolat for rackets, bags and shoes. But we could do more.
We started with Wimbledon apparel and the humble t-shirt, specifically the iconic ‘crossed rackets’ Tee. It’s just a shirt, right? They are all basically the same. A back, a front, a neck, two armholes and made of cotton, or a synthetic or both. Not true. Not to us anyway, because the new Wimbledon retail team had lots of experience of apparel, mainly at the medium and premium levels of the fashion industry. We began by scrutinising what ‘Event Apparel’ looked like elsewhere and knew there was a different way to go. In most cases, apparel for singular or seasonal events is produced and supplied through third parties, but we wanted total control. We wanted to be in at the start, to choose and buy the fabric for our Tees. We wanted to make our own patterns and then work directly with a manufacturer, to first make swatches for material, weave and colour choices. We wanted to move to a prototype, then a sample, then a production sample, before overseeing bulk production and delivery. We wanted to decide how many stitches, the length and cut of the neck, the size of the armholes, the weight of the fabric, the wash and care aspects. We wanted to fit the garments at every stage, and we wanted to design neck labels, swing tags and packaging.