One of the cool things about writing this blog is stumbling across great new finds on the internet. The latest is O.C.-based clothing line Stick It Wear?! (TSF normally eschews punctuation-as-branding — think macy*s and Guess? — but in this case it works).
SIW’s bread and butter are stick figures inspired by Olympics pictograms from the 60s and 70s. Creator and owner Joe Durica designed these logos based on tennis pros with trademark looks. We’re talking Sharapova‘s fist pump, Henin‘s backhand, Clijsters‘ splits, Rafa‘s “Vamos!” pose, and — one of my personal faves — Lleyton‘s cobra). I guess you could call Joe the Nole of tennis fashion.
We recently talked to him over e-mail about tennis, entrepreneurship, and the highs and lows of designing clothing for the sport.
First the basics: Do you play tennis? How often? How do you rate your game? Singles or doubles? What’s your favorite shot to play?
I play tennis between 3-5 times a week. I would self rate at a 4.5 level. I play both singles and doubles. My favorite shot is my lefty serve and forehand. Still trying to bring my volleys up to that level.
Rafa’s pirate pants: yea or nay?
Yea. He’s got a look. Keep him unique! Tennis needs more of that. [His outfit] makes you look at his arms… for those who are interested.
Who is the most well-dressed tennis player on the ATP? WTA?
ATP best: It’s gotta be Fed. The all-black thing at the US Open was beautiful and elegant. Even off court his fashion spreads look great. Clothes hang on him well. Feliciano Lopez is also good with fashion and rocks stock Nike gear pretty well. I also loved Fabrice Santoro‘s striped Lacoste shirt from this season!
ATP worst: [A tie between] Mardy Fish and Juan Ignacio Chela. It looks like the clothes they pick are too big for them.
WTA best: Tatiana Golovin ends up looking real cute all the time. I love the Stella stuff from Adidas that [Ana] Ivanovic and [Anna] Chakvetadze wear. Jankovic‘s body will make anything look good and Masha is always garbed very nicely for the Slams.
WTA worst: I really don’t like Venus‘ new EleVen line. Except for the short shorts, it looks average. And she has a lean body good for fashion.
What was your inspiration to start this line?
My direct inspiration came from the Olympic pictograms from the 60s and 70s. I have always been attracted to their quiet quality. Also, I am such a big fan of tennis that I was looking to wear tennis related stuff off court without looking like I just came from the court. Something that was more sophisticated.
Stick It Wear?! relives the 1981 Wimbledon final in its Classic Match series.
On the website, it says the line was “inspired by local heroes as well as the classic- and modern-era touring pros.” Who did you consider your tennis heroes (and why)?” Who are your local heroes?
I grew up loving McEnroe. I thought it was so dramatic that he would have a verbal blow out and then put the lightest feather touch on a drop volley. It was from one extreme to another. Fire and Ice stuff.
Currently, I love watching Roger play. He seems to play from a source that is infinite. He embodies what being in the present is about.
As per the local heroes, I am always in awe of players that I come across that have a shot leaves your mouth agape. Sometimes it is as simple as a redirection of a volley.
Stick it wear?! is a brilliant play on words. How did you come up with the name? Aside from wanting to pay tribute to your heroes, what made you decide to start the line when you did?
The etymology was obvious. Stick figures + clothing wear! Actually, I was conducting a focus group with my tennis friends and one of the girls just blurted it out. I stopped everything and knew that’s what it had to be called.
The company has been around for about a year and what made me want to start it was when the ‘Russian Meltdown‘ [aka Marat Safin] graphic hit me. It is the logo of the guy about to smash his racket on the ground. I thought it was funny and when I showed it to others, the feeling was horrifically mutual. And being a designer/artist I am always interested in developing ideas from my personal and philosophical interests.
Right now, I have this obsession with tennis. I am rekindling my high school days when I was playing in my black/gray Mac Attack mid shoes, playing with my Wilson Ultra 2 which I received after I sold my Chicago ProStaff which I got from my aunt who worked at Wilson. Can u [sic] tell, I am a tennis geek!
How did you decide on stick figures? Were there other ideas you were toying with?
I didn’t have any other ideas. The “Russian Meltdown” hit me and then the others kept flowing. I have a whole lineup of other players already developed. It is just a matter of marketing them.
In a fashion world dominated by Nike, adidas, Reebok, etc. — what are the obstacles you face as a start-up (and independent) retailer? What is your angle for marketing these clothes? What has been the response?
As an independent in anything you face an uphill journey. I am finding out about the power that Nike has on the sports industry… In my focus groups, I get a lot of opinions, and it is remarkable how people subconsciously ask me to convert my shirts into something Nike has already made!
Other than that, the response I have been getting is great. There has been a lot of consumer involvement in guessing the players and asking about other sports which is already in development.
Tell us a little more about your art. [Here's a gallery of his work.]
I love to create from questions I develop about living. Currently I am exploring the idea of “being in the present”. Since we are animals, our bodies are always in the present vs. our minds. Sports is one of the ways to become more in the present. We can find states of euphoria from being “in the zone” through play. And ‘play’ is the unattachment to a fixed outcome. When we engage in play our resources become limitless. This is why I believe Roger Federer is so far beyond the rest of the field. He seems to surrender to “play”.
Tennis is a symbol of this existence for me. I am also exploring this idea in human sexuality but that is for another time and possibly another blog.
And of course we have to ask you about your favorite stick figure.
That is like asking a parent, ‘Which one of your children do you like more?’ All of them, of course!
Buy: You can check out all Stick It Wear?! goods via the company’s website, www.stickitwear.com. Joe sells hoodies, t-shirts, polo shirts, tanks, and shorts (ranging in price from $42.00-$18.00).