INTRODUCING THE ARTHUR ASHE BRAND
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”
Introducing Arthur Ashe, a new tennis and lifestyle brand dedicated to the legacy of legendary tennis player, civil rights champion, AIDS activist, youth advocate, and American hero Arthur Ashe. The brand is the result of a partnership between Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe and the Arthur Ashe estate; Rowing Blazers Creative Director and founder Jack Carlson; and Kith alum Karl-Raphael Blanchard.
Carlson explains: “You have Fred Perry, a British tennis lifestyle brand named after Fred Perry. And Lacoste, a French brand dedicated to the legacy of René Lacoste. But there hasn’t been an American equivalent. Who better to represent the United States than Arthur Ashe? He’s been a hero of mine for a long time. His icy cool demeanor, effortless style, scholarly approach to sport, will to win and determination to stand up for social justice all resonate with me deeply. The opportunity to work to create this brand has been a dream come true.”
Blanchard, Brand Director of Arthur Ashe, adds: “I’m so grateful to Jeanne for trusting in us, and to all the organizations involved. This brand is here to commemorate one of our Black heroes who encapsulated style and grace on and off the court. This is the beginning of something very special.”
“WHO BETTER TO REPRESENT THE UNITED STATES THAN ARTHUR ASHE? HE’S BEEN A HERO OF MINE FOR A LONG TIME. HIS ICY COOL DEMEANOR, EFFORTLESS STYLE, SCHOLARLY APPROACH TO SPORT, WILL TO WIN AND DETERMINATION TO STAND UP FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE ALL RESONATE WITH ME DEEPLY. THE OPPORTUNITY TO WORK TO CREATE THIS BRAND HAS BEEN A DREAM COME TRUE.”
Arthur Ashe was a tennis champion, making his way from small hometown courts and scholastic tournaments to the sport’s upper echelons. He dominated the field in the 1960s and 70s, winning historic singles titles at the U.S. Open, the Australian Open and Wimbledon. But he was so much more than an athlete. A product of the segregated South, he broke numerous racial barriers during his ascent; he was a passionate activist; he was a thoughtful and dedicated scholar; he was an advocate for numerous health-related initiatives; and, through it all, he effortlessly exuded grace and courage; composure and compassion; humility and style. His towering legacy continues to inspire.
Both on and off the court, Arthur Ashe harnessed fashion’s power to subvert, empower, and express the inexpressible. From the more collegiate aesthetic of his early years — pairing his signature shades with clean-cut, sporty pieces — to his more subversive and edgy style later on, Ashe effortlessly combined elegance and edginess, becoming a fashion icon without ever sacrificing his impeccability.
The Arthur Ashe brand takes inspiration from these myriad on- and off-court looks — including reproductions of some iconic pieces, like his signature U.S. Davis Cup team warm-up suit , pointedly worn during the 1975 Wimbledon prize-giving after his legendary victory over rival Jimmy Connors. The debut collection also includes a mix of athletic apparel and leisurewear inspired by Ashe, including sweats, tees, polo shirts, tennis skirts, rugby jerseys, caps, croquet sweaters, accessories and more - all of which celebrate Ashe’s clean, bold and empowering aesthetic style.
While the Arthur Ashe brand is, on one hand, a celebration of Ashe’s aesthetic style, its other main pillar is more closely aligned with Ashe’s main ambition: giving back to the world. To that end, Arthur Ashe is proud to have formed long-term partnerships with two important philanthropic organizations: UCLA’s Arthur Ashe Legacy Fund and Social Change Fund United. A portion of proceeds from all purchases will benefit the two organizations.
“THIS BRAND IS HERE TO COMMEMORATE ONE OF OUR BLACK HEROES WHO ENCAPSULATED STYLE AND GRACE ON AND OFF THE COURT. THIS IS THE BEGINNING OF SOMETHING VERY SPECIAL.”
The Arthur Ashe Legacy Fund, based at Ashe’s alma mater of UCLA, seeks to amplify Ashe’s unwavering commitment to social, political and health-related causes through education, engagement and empowerment. The non-profit began as a comprehensive multimedia archive aiming to, through preservation, promote the values embodied by Ashe’s life work, and has since grown to encompass a broader educational focus.
Social Change Fund United was created by philanthropists, entrepreneurs, and NBA superstars Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade to support critical and timely issues impacting the Black community. Their mission is to invest in and support organizations that are working to liberate Black people and advocate for indigenous people and communities of color through the lens of policy solutions, community representation and narrative change - issues to which Arthur Ashe was passionately devoted throughout his life.
The Arthur Ashe brand is now live at both arthurashe.com and rowingblazers.com; items are also available to purchase at both the Arthur Ashe pop-up (2 Rivington Street, New York; open through September 5) and, in the shadow of the stadium that bears his name, the Arthur Ashe Legacy Fund pop-up at the 2022 US Open in Flushing, Queens (which features US Open-exclusive pieces). A launch party is scheduled at the Rivington pop-up on the night of the official launch: Friday, August 26, 2022, from 6:00pm-9:00pm.