Local athletic apparel brands serve fresh looks to hit the court — or the town
SAVANNAH’S RELATIONSHIP with tennis is no passing fling. In addition to dozens of leagues, programs, senior teams and the Savannah Challenger — a United States Tennis Association tournament happening April 27–May 3 — there’s an opportunity for every level of tennis enthusiast, from spectator to semi-pro. Its widespread appeal has also resulted in apparel brands embracing the sport here at home.
Tail Activewear, based in both Savannah and Miami, has been in the women’s active apparel business since 1975. “Our goal in the very beginning — and even today — was to offer women a fashionable alternative to what was on the market,” says Lauren Maddox, the brand’s marketing manager. Tail has helped expand the utility and preconceptions of athleticwear, offering customers garments that are functional both on and off the court. Leggings equipped with ball pockets (they can also stash iPhones and keys) pull double-duty while running errands, and Tail’s Core Active collection provides wearers with basic layering pieces as appropriate for a match as they are for lunch downtown.
“We have some customers who have been wearing Tail Activewear for all 45 years that we’ve been in business,” Maddox says. “It’s ageless.”
Tail’s longevity has also helped set the stage for new, local tennis apparel brands, like 40 Lime, founded by Kathryn Hayes as a way to reflect all facets of the sport. “About a year after I started playing, I was helping our team look for a new skirt and found it was difficult to find the right prints, price points, sizing and stock,” Hayes says. “The number of brands out there was limited.”
Rather than accept the typical monochrome clothing she was so used to seeing, Hayes took the matter into her own hands. The transition from freelance painter to clothing designer came naturally, given Hayes’ background in fine art. After completing a modern art commission, she realized her work resembled fabric. “That’s what made me think, what if I printed my own art?”
Hayes turned to the Lowcountry for inspiration, hand-painting each 40 Lime pattern in punchy pinks, bright greens and deep, ocean blues. All of the brand’s apparel, including its signature printed tennis skirts, plus tanks, tees, zip-up jackets and accessories, is offered in children’s sizes 4 through 10 and women’s sizes XXS to 2XL, ensuring everyone feels comfortable on the court.
L?d? Tennis, yet another Savannah-based brand, is built on the idea of inner power. The brand’s tagline, “Sport Confidence,” is a way of life for owner and founder Bridget Lipman. As one of more than 500 women in the Savannah Tennis League, Lipman has seen firsthand the difference feeling good about yourself can make during a match. “So many different types of women come and play every week,” she says. “It’s a magical community.” With graphic prints, sleek silhouettes and an emphasis on functionality (stay-in-place bloomers are a hallmark of the brand), L?d? Tennis ensures that players everywhere feel both strong and supported.
For Savannahians, tennis is just another part of life, much like oyster roasts and hurricane parties. “You’re there to play, but afterward, you socialize,” Lipman says. And thanks to these three brands, you can look great while doing both.