With the US Open coming to a close this past weekend, I thought I would share an exciting recent Barrel website launch for a new apparel brand honoring the legacy of Arthur Ashe.
Arthur Ashe was a pro tennis player with an incredible career and an impeccable sense of style. Ashe won three Grand Slam singles titles, was the first black player selected to the US Davis Cup team and is the only black man to win the singles title at Wimbledon, the US Open, and the Australian Open. Throughout his career, Ashe was also an activist and civil rights champion. Many know him today by the tennis stadium in Queens at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, Arthur Ashe Stadium, where tennis matches in this year's US Open took place.
The Arthur Ashe brand launch comes from the founder of clothing brand Rowing Blazers, Jack Carlson, with whom we have collaborated for several years, redesigning websites for Rowing Blazers, Gyles & George, and Warm & Wonderful. Carlson partnered with Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, the Arthur Ashe estate, and Kith alum Karl-Raphael Blanchard to bring the new brand to life.
In an interview with Women's Wear Daily, Carlson talks about his connection to Ashe and the brand's origin:
“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] has been a hero of mine for a long time. His icy cool demeanor, effortless style, scholarly approach to sport, his 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.”
I didn't know much about Arthur Ashe before we learned about the project. All it took was a quick Google search to understand how important Ashe is to the story of tennis, later emphasized by Carlson's passion for Ashe's career during our project kickoff.
In preparation for the project, I read Levels of the Game by John McPhee, a short book documenting a tennis match between Arthur Ashe and Clark Graebner in 1968. McPhee uses the tennis match as a basis for detailing the early days of Ashe's career (he began playing at age six!) and his unique technique (like using a wooden racket long after aluminum entered the scene). As someone who grew up coloring outside the lines, I found Ashe's story of drive, originality, and passion for the game inspiring.
Overall, I am proud of our work on the new website and honored to play a small role in bringing Ashe's legacy to the forefront. I also had a lot of fun jumping back into a Creative Director role, working with our Senior Designer, Isaac, to develop a design system that acts like a gallery wall for the apparel and archival imagery.
Explore the Arthur Ashe legacy and collection at arthurashe.com