18 May was the 104th birthday of Fred Perry. As someone who'd generally rather poorly play any sport than watch others, no matter how good, this occasion in and of itself didn't mean much to me. Fred Perry was, I've read, a great tennis player but I reckon his name conjures up images of tennis shirts rather than tennis players. And for anyone remotely aware of youth subcultures, Fred Perry shirts have been part of many style tribes' uniforms. In fact, Fred Perry was so popular with a Mancunian tribe that arose in the late 1970s that they came to be known as "Perry Boys."
A BRIEF HISTORY OF TENNIS SHIRTS
Lacoste (left) and Perry (right) in their creations (image source: Modern Gentleman Magazine)
The tennis shirt was invented in 1929 by French tennis star Jean René Lacoste but Fred Perry introduced several innovations to the article of clothing. As with Lacoste, Fred Perry shirts only came in white when they were introduced in 1952. The now signature twin-tipping was reportedly introduced to placate the demands of West Ham United football fans. When members of the Mod subculture adopted the shirt, more colors were added to cater to their tastes. (Fred Perry also invented the modern wrist sweatband although there's no excuse for wearing those off the court).