Mars One, the astounding interplanetary project founded by Dutch entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp, plans to establish human life on Mars by the year 2026. To do so, Lansdorp has whittled down applications from all over the world to 100 candidates, each willing to leave everything behind in the name of science and the future of mankind to live the rest of their lives on the red planet.
The Mars One project was the inspiration for one of the zanier sportswear releases in recent times, as Bjorn Borg showcased its Spring-Summer 2016 collection on the opening night of Stockholm Fashion Week in August. Sharing space on the mock-up Martian desert stage with the silver-boots-and- shorts combinations, daring swimwear and nu-age gym gear on display were more familiar sights – a trim-fitting tennis dress, well-tailored all-white shorts, and headband after headband.
As a brand, Bjorn Borg is on its own mission to Mars. Founded in 1984, a year after the Swede officially announced his retirement at the age of just 26, the fashion label has evolved into an exciting brand that blurs the boundaries between sportswear and high fashion with a reputation for its loud-and-proud underwear. While Borg the man was a notoriously private enigma, Borg the brand is unapologetically funky.
Sport and fashion intersect for all manner of budgets and tastes; Bjorn Borg aims to inhabit that small pocket of fashion, function and fun – clothing designed to make you look and feel active and attractive. Underwear has been the mainstay during the brand’s return to prominence, prompting Bjorn Borg to launch in the UK in 2012. But in 2016, for the first time in its 31-year history, the collection has been built around its sportswear, with tennis sharing top billing alongside gym and running gear.
Tennis has always been an intrinsic part of the Bjorn Borg brand – given its founder, how could it not be – but this year, the Swedish design house believes it has made a breakthrough.
“I feel like we’re really starting to define what sports fashion means for Bjorn Borg,” said Lee. “My favourite piece has to be one-piece tennis suits. They’re really amazing. And also I really like the wool rib pieces.” The upcoming Bjorn Borg tennis collection celebrates the company’s heritage with a retro tennis inspiration interpreted in a modern style. Mesh detailing and glued seams add a touch of modern comfort to the women’s line, while retro sweaters, shorts and polos in innovative functional materials, detailed with tennis court line- inspired touches, are a recurring theme on the men’s side.
When circling the clay-coated catwalk in Stockholm, the clean whites were all the more striking against the more leftfield Mars-inspired designs taking their cues from the space race and dreams of interplanetary colonies of the 1970s and 1980s, yet without jarring. Perhaps, in part, that owes something to the man whose name adorns the models’ waistbands – after all, that was the era of Borg’s seven-year dominance of the tennis world before the Swede retired in 1983.
And it’s not just catwalk fodder. Bjorn Borg tennis gear can currently be seen on a select band of sponsored players, including Great Britain’s Tara Moore, David Rice, Harriet Dart, Ed Corrie, Dan Cox and Scott Clayton. And while they will not be wearing the leftfield stylings committed to the catwalk in Stockholm over the summer, the thread of Lee’s vision is ingrained in Bjorn Borg’s bold change in direction.
“My thought about Mars One is that this could be a step in the evolution of mankind,” he said. “It’s kind of epic. “We have shown the world how to train for Mars, and hope that our tribute can inspire to epic adventures. Fashion-interested explorers will be able to find our show collection in a limited edition as of January 19 next year.”
It may be one small step in comparison, but the thought of seeing Bjorn Borg on Centre Court again one day, if only in name, would be another frontier conquered by the Ice Man.