With mere weeks until the most style- and celeb-centric tennis event in the world rolls out its Pimms Wagon, it’s fitting timing for wildly popular Australian sport luxe brand THE UPSIDE to drop its new tennis-inspired Spring/Summer 2018 collection.
The womenswear range, called Make a Racquet, was inspired by Wimbledon and features the label’s signature blend of high performance pieces in bold prints with more style-oriented ones clearly intended to double as an off-duty urban uniform for the millennial set.
Though much of the collection is tinged with fun ’70s-inspired design accents like terry toweling, vintage raglan-sleeve flocked tees, skinny track pants, tennis shorts stamped with a cactus print, modern elements like camo-print compression tights and a koi-motif Paddlesuit that is pure commercial gold remind us that THE UPSIDE (despite its high glam reputation) is a legitmate performance-wear entity.
We spoke to the brand’s Sydney-based founder and womenswear designer – entrapeneur and former model Jodhi Meares – about the new range which drops today, its vintage tennis influences and where she goes to find peace away from it all.
Credit: Jez Smith
OVER ALMOST ALL OTHER SPORTS, TENNIS HAS A WHIMSICAL, ROMANTIC AND ALMOST POETIC FEEL, PARTICULARLY IN THAT ’70S ERA. WHY DO YOU THINK THAT IS? AND HOW HAVE YOU CHANNELLED THAT FEELING INTO THIS COLLECTION? As you’ve said tennis conjures such beautiful imagery, from classic British green lawns and crisp whites, to the more risqué, back-lit imagery in the ‘70s, the variations on red, white and navy from vintage sports brands and that sexier French feel. All of that imagery was front of mind when we designed the collection. We also wanted to honour the enfants terribles that make the game so interesting and pushed the game forward stylistically. For those guys and girls, we included camoflage prints and subtle references to wild beasts.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE PIECE IN THIS NEW COLLECTION AND WHY? The Camo anorak and the Pique polo top. For the women’s collection in particular we spent a lot of time feminising traditional shapes. I also love the Beast tee because I love beasts.
Have you been to Wimbledon and if so, how would you describe that experience? Yes, many, many years ago and I loved it. Wimbledon is the quintessential British experience – we literally ate strawberries and cream. The collection is perfect to wear to Wimbledon.
Credit: Jez Smith
What tennis star would you love to see wearing this range during a match? It’s hard to choose just one, but I’d have to say Evonne Goolagong-Cawley for what she achieved as a woman in sport during the ‘70s. Otherwise, dressing either Venus or Serena Williams would be a pinch-myself moment. They’re true athletes in every sense of the word.
Amongst other fabrics, this collection features terry cotton. Do you have memories of wearing terry towelling as a child (the quintessential Aussie ‘70s and ‘80s childhood staple)? Terry conjures up so many fond memories of my childhood. Just as we’ve played with velvet leisure suits for winter, Terry has that similar nostalgic feel of long, hot Australian summers. THE UPSIDE as a brand is relaxed and has a sense of humour, so it is really fun to bring back these fabrics, but give them a modern update.
IT ALSO INCLUDES A KOI FISH PRINT. DID ITS SYMBOLIC MEANING (REPRESENTING AMONGST OTHER THINGS PROSPERITY, STRONG CHARACTER AND THE ABILITY TO ATTAIN THE HIGHEST GOALS, GIVEN AMONGST OTHER THINGS, THE KOI CAN FAMOUSLY SWIM UP WATERFALLS) PLAY A DEEPER PART IN WHY IT WAS PICKED FOR YOUR SPORTSWEAR – OR DO YOU JUST LOVE THE LOOK OF IT AS A PRINT? Truthfully it was both. With our prints, we always want to push the boundaries and move forward each season. The Koi print works for us in so many ways: it’s symbolism is deep and layered, but the vibrancy and tones of the print is also really flattering and eye-catching for swimwear. It really was a double win.
DO YOU STILL SPEND A LARGE PART OF YOUR TIME IN HAWAII? Since launching THE UPSIDE I don’t get to spend as much time as I initially did. As our brand is based in Sydney, it’s where I’m needed most, but Hawaii is my second home and it’s where I’m at peace.
HOW IS IT SIMILAR OR, CONVERSELY, VERY DIFFERENT TO SYDNEY’S BEACH LIFESTYLE? There are similarities in the laid-back beach vibe, particularly in Sydney during summer. Hawaiian is a very kind and loving society; when you say ‘Aloha’ or ‘Hi’ to people you are actually saying ‘Love’. Hawaiians have a saying, “Live Pono”, which means to respect everyone and everything. It’s a sentiment that really resonates with me.
GIVEN YOUR AFFINITY FOR THE OCEAN AND SUP, IS IT FAIR TO SAY SWIMWEAR – AND YOUR ICONIC, BEST-SELLING PADDLESUIT – WILL ALWAYS BE CENTRAL TO THE UPSIDE AND YOUR COLLECTIONS? The beach and swimwear are my first loves. As much as it is about sport and fashion I see THE UPSIDE as a lifestyle business, it’s about living a life that is full of what you love. For me the ultimate lifestyle is being close to the beach, so there will always be elements of the collection that honour that way of living.
The SS18 Make a Racquet collection launches today in stores and online.
Credit: Jez Smith