It's been 70 years since the Fred Perry polo shirt made its debut. Little did its founder know just how much his sportswear would leave such an enduring legacy. The former world number one's clothing range has had such influence that it's now the focus of a new exhibition at London's Design Museum this summer.
Fred Perry: A British Icon opens on 10 June, just in time for Wimbledon, where you can discover the story behind one of the world's most successful sportswear brands and explore everything from the company's humble tennis beginnings to its contemporary designs as well as its importance to subcultures from mods and skinheads to musicians, artists, and sports stars. Through original objects, design processes and specially commissioned films, you'll be able to see how the cultural significance of the Fred Perry polo shirt has evolved over seven decades and inspired the world.
But this isn't just for fashion appreciators. You'll also see how sporting and musical collaborations helped shape the brand's identity, including collaborations and work from Amy Winehouse, Charles Jeffrey, Gorillaz, Comme des Garçons, Nicholas Daley, Raf Simons and The Specials.
The exhibition begins with a closer look at the company's beginnings in 1950s Britain with rare archival material and early prototypes revealing a little more about its founder, the three-times Wimbledon champion Fred Perry. You'll then understand the intricacies of Perry's identity and learn how his legacy continues to influence the brand's character.
There's also a deep dive into Fred Perry's quintessential garment: the polo shirt with a look at early prototypes, the evolution of the laurel wreath logo, typography and rare pieces from years of collaborations with designers and musicians. And you'll see how various global communities have adopted the Fred Perry polo shirt as their uniform.
What may surprise some, the exhibition even showcases Fred Perry's unique relationship with live music. Inspired by the brand's programming of global music events, which pitches artists at the cutting edge of underground music, you will find yourself immersed in the music that has been the soundtrack of the brand's 70-year history.
Made in collaboration with Fred Perry, Fred Perry: A British Icon celebrates the stories of the eponymous brand, the people who wear it, and the tennis champion who inspired it all. It's free for everyone and opens in the Design Museum's Huth Gallery between 10 June – 20 June 2022.