UNIQLO announced that tennis star Roger Federer has signed with the Japanese apparel label as its global brand ambassador, after Federer ditched his long-running agreement with Nike in March. It is expected that Federer will wear UNIQLO on-court at all tournaments this year, starting with Wimbledon 2018.
This year marks Federer’s 20th consecutive year playing singles at Wimbledon. For the first time since he signed his initial contract with Nike in 1994, Federer stepped out in UNIQLO’s outfit rather than Nike clothing.
Federer’s on-court wear was designed at the UNIQLO research and development center in Paris, which is led by the label’s artistic director, Christophe Lemaire. The new designs move away from traditional polo shirtband crewneck for a short stand-up collar with subtle red detailing.
Ties are not broken between Federer and Nike. Since UNIQLO does not make tennis shoes and Nike still owns the “RF” logo, Federer will continue to wear Nike sneakers on-court for now.
However, Federer believes the “RF” logo will make a powerful comeback as part of the UNIQLO collection."The RF logo is with Nike at the moment, but it will come to me at some point. I hope rather sooner than later, that Nike can be nice and helpful in the process to bring it over to me. It's also something that was very important for me, for the fans really.”
Tadashi Yanai, UNIQLO Founder and Chairman, said “Mr Federer is one of the greatest champions in history, my respect for him goes beyond sport.”
"Our partnership will be about innovation on and off court. We share a goal of making positive change in the world, and I hope together we can bring the highest quality of life to the greatest number of people. Uniqlo will help Mr Federer continue taking tennis to new places, while exploring innovations in a number of areas including technology and design with him." Yanai added.
The new endorsement deal is reportedly worth US$300 million over the next 10 years, yet no official announcement has been made regarding specific numbers.
UNIQLO has not done many athlete endorsements as it is a fast-fashion brand rather than a sport apparel brand. However, the small handful of athletes signing the brand were all in tennis or golf. After the brand lost famous tennis player Novak Djokovic to Lacoste last year, Federer is a massive upgrade of global face for the brand.
Federer is also almost certainly one of the few athletes who will continue to be marketable past the time when he retires from his sport. UNIQLO can use Federer in brand advertising even when he is no longer playing on the court.
Federer said "I am deeply committed to tennis and to winning Championships. But like UNIQLO, I also have a great love for life, culture and humanity. We share a strong passion to have a positive impact on the world around us and looking forward to combining our creative endeavors."