Where Does Roger Federer’s US Open Uniqlo Outfit Rank Among His All-Time Best?
The Swissman's ever-popular "Darth Federer" getup is back at Flushing in 2019
Roger Federer has come stumbling out of the blocks at the US Open this year, dropping the first set in both of his first two matches — first to qualifier Sumit Nagal in the first round on Monday, and then again to world no. 99 Damir Džumhur on Wednesday. Today he faces British journeyman Dan Evans, and if his pedestrian form continues, there’s honestly no telling who will come out on top.
But there is one title that Federer tends to claim at every tournament, regardless of where he finishes in the actual competition: that of the most stylish and impeccably dressed racquet-wielder on the face of the earth.
GQ‘s Most Stylish Man of 2016 tends to save his best kits for the year’s final major, and this year is no different. Now in his second season on Uniqlo’s tennis roster after spending nearly a quarter-century with Nike, Federer arrived in Flushing with two variations on a squeaky-clean monochrome kit: a white with black trim for daytime matches, and a black with white trim for night matches. The latter, of course, is the cake-taker here, and keeps with the Swissman’s preference for all-black outfits at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center — one that has earned him the nickname of “Darth Federer” from fans over the years.
It is also, notably, the first great outfit that Federer’s collaboration with Uniqlo has birthed. Below, we take a look at 10 of his greatest getups over the years, and try to figure out where the new one ranks among them.
10. Indian Wells, 2012
This one makes the list on the strength of one of the single greatest garments in Federer’s oeuvre, a blue colorblocked polo that paired impeccably with white shorts and royal-blue wrist and headbands.
9. Australian Open, 2013
Federer has always been a “real men wear pink” kind of guy, and in 2013 he pulled it off with aplomb in Melbourne. Good rule for wearing pink, as evidenced here: always in moderation, and it often works best as an accent next to a more conservative base like black, grey or both.
8. Australian Open, 2015
Sometimes to beat the tennis ball, one must become the tennis ball.
7. US Open, 2019
Look, Uniqlo is never going to be Nike, at least on the tennis court. But Federer’s latest collection is a step in the right direction after the UPS-delivery-man chic he broke out at Roland Garros. The red piping on the henley collar is a serious head-turner, even if those blocky red Uniqlo badges tend more into eyesore territory.
6. US Open, 2015
This year was exceptional for not one but two standout ensembles. The first is the one you see above: all white with traffic-stopping hot-pink accents (no one has done pink quite as well as Fed over the years). The second was a loud, baroque getup with about seven different colors and patterns that never should’ve worked, and yet somehow, in Federer’s hands, did.
5. US Open, 2014
The year that Federer wore Jordans was notable not just for that well-deployed marketing stunt (he only wore the Jordans during the first couple rounds), but also for yet another example of his signature all-black US Open kit, this time punched up with grey trim up top and some hot-pink accents on the shoes that he broke out in the later rounds.
4. US Open, 2005
Federer’s vestiary sensibility didn’t enter its golden age until around 2012, when tennis apparel at large sort of woke up to everyday menswear trends and began to list toward slimmer cuts, shorter sleeves and more thoughtful color schemes. But even in the dark ages of 9″ inseams and billowy polos, Federer was still a cut above the competition. Never was that more evident than with this crispy getup, which paired yellow accents with a slate gray shirt, white shorts and black sneakers.
3. Australian Open, 2016
In a vacuum, this is quite possibly the sharpest Federer kit of all. The color palette — gradient greens and blues over a white canvas — is stunning, and the details are even better: the green piping around the hem of the shorts might be the single greatest detail I’ve seen to date on a piece of tennis garb.
2. Wimbledon, 2015
It’s difficult to stand out at the All England Club by dint of the fact that the place requires all players to dress themselves cap-à-pie in white. The effect is, of course, very genteel and nice to look at, but it is also a fairly large obstacle to personal expression. Players have nonetheless tried to push the boundaries over the years, from Federer’s own contrived attempts at blazers and chunky cardigans to the era when Rafael Nadal was still trying to make tennis pirate happen. Of course, any truly stylish man will tell you that dressing to stand out works best when it’s a function of nuance, which Federer achieved in 2015 with a henley-style shirt emblazoned with his signature RF logo on the sleeves and his other sartorial hallmarks — the perfectly pulled crew socks, the meticulously rolled headband — all in attendance.
1. US Open, 2007
The all-black kit that started it all. At the height of his dominance and just having captured a fifth-straight Wimbledon title in the compulsory all-whites of the All England Club, Federer arrived in Flushing with that outfit’s diametric opposite: black from head to toe, with only a series of Nike Swooshes in white and silver and a glossy tuxedo stripe on the shorts breaking things up. It’s a look that has only grown more iconic since, with not only Federer but a stable of his rivals (including Rafael Nadal) doing their best Johnny Cash impression at the Open each year. Have there been sharper all-black outfits in the years since? Probably. But every one of those uniforms owes their existence to this one, and for that, it will always be remembered as Federer’s most devastating.