Interview | NikeCourt x Roger Federer presented by NikeLab

Interview | NikeCourt x Roger Federer presented by NikeLab

Fusing stylistic elements on the court alongside daily happenings off it, the NikeLab collection with Roger Federer is as much about tennis as it is a lifestyle. We speak to the 17 time Grand Slam champion about this connection and also his input on the process as a whole.

NikeCourt x Roger Federer by NikeLab design process


What was that turning point for you where you really became interested in style?

RF: I was thrown into it because when I was younger, I had to go to some awards ceremonies where you have to look good on the red carpet. I realized I only had one suit and I felt uncomfortable in it. So I started wearing more and more suits. At first, it was uncomfortable. But eventually, I started to enjoy it. And I think it’s the same across the board in fashion. Whatever you do, you have to be comfortable in your clothes. For me, that applies on the court or off the court.

Does your personal style say something about you? If so, what do you think it says?

RF: Yeah, I think so. It could be color, a graphic design, or a cut. I’m quite particular in how I like my cuts. In tennis we went really baggy for a while, which I enjoyed, because it reflected the basketball influence of the era that I grew up with. But eventually I liked it more tailored. I thought we could bring some nice style to tennis, which could then translate into street wear.

NikeCourt x Roger Federer Nike Lab design process

Why is fit so important to you?

RF: You’ve got to like what you wear. For me personally, I can tell from my previous experiences which materials I prefer and which ones I don’t. The same applies for the cut, the length, the zippers, buttons and so forth. There are so many things you can do in an outfit, which I find fascinating.

Fortunately enough, Nike has asked me to collaborate and pass on my ideas. So it’s still a bit of a beginning for me, trying to completely understand how we go about it. But there is such a wonderful team and so many unbelievably creative minds there that they’re really helping me to get it right.

Why are you investing so much time in this project?

RF: Well, really, I’ve been asked by Nike. It’s not something that you go and tell them, “I want to do this right now, so let’s do this.” They have a lot of projects on their hands. There are so many highlights in sports and so many athletes they should celebrate. I just feel really fortunate that after all of these years, I get an opportunity to collaborate and innovate with Nike on such an intimate level. Honestly, it’s a dream come true.

NikeCourt x Roger Federer by NikeLab design process choosing Fabrics

A common design theme in your summer collection is the five dots, which appear on hangtags, as well as the shoes and one of the shirts. What do those five dots represent?

RF: When I was younger, I would practice with my dad and my attitude was always very temperamental. My dad would get frustrated. He would say, “I don’t enjoy playing with you like that.” This is something he had told me a million times before. One day, he got so fed up that he just took a five Swiss Franc coin and put it on the side of the bench. I still remember the bench. It was a white bench. He put it there and said, “I’ll see you at home. I can’t take it anymore.” And he left.

I waited there for a half an hour. I thought he was going to come back because he had never left me like that. I walked to the parking lot of the tennis club I was in and realized his car wasn’t there anymore.

NikeCourt x Roger Federer Grey RF NikeLab top

RF: Now, home wasn’t just around the corner. I would have to take a full tram ride and bus ride, which would take me about 45 minutes. When I finally got home, he was still upset and I felt genuinely bad. So the five Franc story is a really significant piece of the puzzle in my career. It stressed the importance of sportsmanship.

Throughout this design journey, you have been very open with the Nike design team. For example, you invited members of the Nike team to your house to see how you live and what you wear. Why have you opened up your world to Nike in such an intimate way?

RF: It’s important Nike knows who I am – not just my personality, but how I live and how I dress. It’s important that they fully understand my style – from watches to cars to interior design to materials and so forth. I didn’t hold back because I trust that they’re going to tell the world about how I live in a fair and authentic way. This is a bit of a change for me, as we’re very private about these things in Switzerland.

NikeCourt x Roger Federer by NikeLab Tennis

How much input did you have on the creation of the logo?

RF: I’ve always had a lot of input into the RF logo, even well before this project. I always thought that it would be really cool to have something personal because, in tennis, we don’t really have the name on the back, like a soccer player, or a number that somebody can relate to, like in hockey. So I thought it would be nice to have something, such as your initials, that fans could wear and feel like they’re connecting to you.

For this collection, we’re making the RF logo smaller and placing it within a circle. It’s very premium. It’s also smaller, which seems to be the trend in fashion. It doesn’t scream out at you, which makes you focus more on the details. My collection on the court with Nike has always been about details, so it’s fitting that this collection is about them as well.



Federer’s  insights – ranging from material, colour and silhouette preferences to personal stories have shaped the collection’s design.



NikeLab NikeCourt x Roger Federer collection

Why is important for you to include distinctively Nike innovation in this collection?

RF: I have to utilize that. Nike is the best in the business and they can innovate so much that it would be unfortunate or a pity if you didn’t use it. To have so many different materials, zippers, vents, etc. that you can choose from is amazing. They bring it to the table and I have the beautiful situation where I can choose what I would like. It’s a dream for me.

Where do you see yourself wearing this collection, or your fans wearing this collection?

RF: I want the fans to have something they can wear every day almost everywhere they go. It really is about being able to wear it in the street and feel like this isn’t just another sportswear piece. It needs to be a bit something more, but at the same time, feel like it’s rooted in tennis.



True to Federer are graphics and zippers that connect to his personal history ad off-court style, while movement-conscious construction finished with grosgrain detailing reflects the 17-time Grand Slam champion’s appreciation of premium craftsmanship.



What were you looking for in the feel of the garments?

RF: The feel of the garments are really, really important to me. No matter the color, I wanted to use innovative Nike fabrics that are super comfortable to wear.

There’s really an acute sense of craftsmanship in this collection. Why is that important to you?

RF: I really enjoy the craftsmanship of Nike design. The team was proud to show me so many different ways of bringing that craftsmanship onto a T-shirt. At one point, it was almost a bit too much to be quite honest. But at the same time, now that I’ve wrapped my mind around it, I can’t wait to get more into it. It’s like a watchmaker. Nike is incredibly detailed in everything they design and I think the collection reflects that.



The NikeCourt x Roger Federer by NikeLab collection will be available exclusively at NikeLab 1948 London from the 23rd June 2016, and online at from the 30th June.


NikeCourt x Roger Federer NikeLab White blazer

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