Fred Perry: A British Icon - new exhibition photography.
Celebrating 70 years of the Fred Perry polo shirt, discover the legacy of Britain’s most enduring sportswear brand in a free exhibition opening 10 June 2022 at the Design Museum.
From the company’s tennis beginnings to its contemporary designs, discover how the cultural significance of the Fred Perry polo shirt has evolved, resonating globally.
Explore 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.
Images: Felix Speller for the Design Museum
This summer, in collaboration with Fred Perry, the Design Museum presents Fred Perry: A British Icon - an exhibition celebrating the stories of the eponymous brand, the global communities who wear it, and the tennis champion who inspired it all. Opening on 10 June 2022, the exhibition invites visitors to follow the story of the brand's sporting founder and its importance to subcultures through a new installation of original objects, design process and specially commissioned films.
Visitors will explore the company’s beginnings in 1950s Britain and through rare archival material and early prototypes will get to know its founder, three-times Wimbledon champion Fred Perry. Explore the intricacies of Perry’s identity and learn how his legacy continues to influence the brand’s character.
The exhibition continues with a deep dive into Fred Perry’s quintessential garment: the polo shirt. See early prototypes, the evolution of the laurel wreath logo, typography and rare pieces from years of collaborations with designers and musicians. From mods to skinheads, and spanning artists, musicians, film-makers and sports stars, the following section reflects the global communities that adopted the Fred Perry polo shirt as their uniform.
Exploring politics and community as realised through fashion, gain insight into the brand’s international significance, and the values that have been embedded in the style over time. Among the brand’s devotees are stars of British music, such as Amy Winehouse, Gorillaz and Sam Fender.
The exhibition showcases Fred Perry’s unique relationship with live music. Inspired by the brand’s programming of Global music events, which platforms artists at the cutting edge of underground music, visitors will find themselves immersed in the music that has been the soundtrack of the brand’s 70-year history.
The exhibition will be free for visitors and opens in the Design Museum’s Huth Gallery between 10 June – 19 June 2022.
About Fred Perry
Fred Perry was the son of a Stockport cotton spinner, who went on to become world table tennis champion at 19, before switching to lawn tennis and winning Wimbledon three times with a killer forehand. He honed his self-taught shots at his local public courts in West London, going on to be a successful Davis Cup captain, winner of 10 majors and the first player to win a Career Grand Slam – Fred remains the only British player ever to achieve this.
Fred designed his first pique tennis shirt in 1952. With a focus on lightweight functionality, he wanted to design something that was practical enough for tennis, but stylish enough to wear off-court. The Fred Perry Shirt became part of the British subcultural uniform, first adopted by the ‘60s mods for being casual enough for the day and smart enough to wear all night.
What inspired Fred went on to inspire a generation of tennis players, rebels, musicians, film-makers and full-circle back to sports stars. Today, the Laurel Wreath remains a signature of both individuality and of belonging, from elite sportsmen to fringe subcultures.
About the Design Museum
The Design Museum is the world’s leading museum devoted to contemporary architecture and design. Its work encompasses all elements of design, including fashion, product and graphic design. Since it opened its doors in 1989 the museum has displayed everything from an AK-47 to high heels designed by Christian Louboutin. It has staged over 100 exhibitions, welcomed over seven million visitors and showcased the work of some of the world’s most celebrated designers and architects including Paul Smith, Zaha Hadid, Jonathan Ive, Frank Gehry, Eileen Gray and Dieter Rams. On 24 November 2016, The Design Museum relocated to Kensington, west London. John Pawson has converted the interior of a 1960s modernist building to create a new home for the Design Museum giving it three times more space in which to show a wider range of exhibitions and significantly extend its learning programme.