LCF Class of 2022: Calista Effendi re-imagines tennis wear
As we approach the LCF Class of 2022 showcase and celebration from 13 July 2022, we take a look at some of the work created by this year's graduating cohort. We interviewed graduate, Calista Britania Effendi from BA (Hons) Fashion Sportwear on her final collection, 'Re-Imaging Tennis', a Spring/Summer 2023 Tennis Wear collection for women. Calista talks us through the processes, inspirations and key highlights she’s had whilst working on her culminating and reforming pieces, breaking through traditional boundaries of Tennis Wear.
For my final graduate collection, 'Re-Imaging Tennis', I designed a tennis collection. Half of the collection were active sportswear for tennis, and the other half were casual tennis inspired garments. The research for my collection came from several areas; tennis itself—including its garments, court and movement, as well as things outside the sport such as trends, my consumer target, and ballet and figure skating garments. The aim of this collection is to re-imagine the typical classic all-white and boring silhouette of tennis outfits and provide more options for women to wear.
When I was young, my grandfather and my father often watched Grand Slams on television. Federer and Djokovic were my grandfather’s favourite and my dad's, Nadal. I would sometimes just sit there and watch it with them. This was when I had noticed that some of clothing were very similar, but Serena’s outfit always stood out. I also noticed how it is hard to find tennis garments in stores, especially during Autumn/Winter. The selections they have are very limited, which makes a lot of sense why athletes wear similar clothes. This was the main reason why I then decided to choose Tennis-wear for my Graduate Collection.
To create the collection, I firstly researched through books and online resources. I looked at what tennis players wore throughout history, and then identified the different features from each decade; taking notes of things that I like from each and fuse them to create a new look. For instance, before the 20th century, the garments were more voluminous; long skirts, long sleeves, with lots of ruffles and pleats. However, the silhouette became more minimalistic afterwards, which then turned into the current tennis clothing we see worn by tennis players. I also researched by interviewing a female Tennis coach —Suzie Chapman and gave out questionnaires to focused groups which then helped me with my final decision.
For the material research, I ordered some samples/swatches from online fabric stores and visited a lot of stores in person to see what kind of fabrics were available on the market. In hindsight, in my material decision making, I put too much weight on the colours and aesthetics factor rather than the functionality of the materials, which now I regret. Although the materials I chose are comfortable enough to be worn for running around in the court, I should have tested it even further because after all, it is a sportswear collection.
When I was in kindergarten, I took a ballet course for around a year, and if I’m being honest, the reason why I was ever interested in joining was simply because of its garments. I love the tutu skirts that ballerinas wear, and even after I quit ballet, I still keep my ballet dress/skirts in my closet. This is the reason why I decided to create a hybrid ballet-tennis wear that could be worn on court. Although some people may be sceptical whether it functions well on court, I have tested it and it is just as comfortable enough for you to run around.
Moreover, from my research I noticed that my primary consumers (which are recreational players) often don't even have a dedicated tennis garment in their closet. Tennis players tend to wear just anything that is comfortable enough for them. I figured that this is because they don't find any necessity in purchasing a garment that is not physically attractive and comfortability takes more of a win. Thus, by creating something that is more interesting but at the same time comfortable, creates a higher chance that the customer will be tempted to buy it for its aesthetics.
When creating my collection, I encountered a few difficulties. The first one struck when I was toiling my first look; an all-in-one tennis catsuit with skirts attached. Creating the perfectly perfect fit was quite hard to achieve. I had to re-make up to five toiles for just the top part of the garment (the top itself). It was because it was not tight enough, and the area around the underarm also had too much excess fabric. Another difficulty I came across was the areas around the neckline where I had bagged it out with the advice from my tutor who had suggested a clean finishing instead of using binding. However, the bagging needed some trials and practice because of the curved build, making it harder to stay in shape.
Attaching the top, the skirt and shorts underneath was another struggle. The skirt itself is made of nets which isn’t stretchy, having to then work with the rest of the garment which is made of four-way stretch Lycra that is extensible was a troublesome combination to work with. The way you wear the outfit is by getting your whole body from the top whilst still maintaining the skirt stitching, so it doesn’t break even if you stretch it out. A few tests were made, and thankfully in the end it all worked out well.
For the second look, the trousers were pretty much fine, but another problem occurred when I was creating the top. Because it is not cut on the grainline and the fabric has strong elasticity, the fabric kept stretching up making it hard to make the desired look that I wanted. Sampling could have solved the problem, however, the fabric that I wanted is expensive and it is not easy to find a similar one with an affordable price. I ended up risking it and made a really small pattern where it stretches itself when it is worn - so in the end it worked out well, as seen in the picture below.
Lastly, the final look. I know it seems so simple, I also thought that I could finish the top in less than 3 days. Nonetheless, turns out, it is really hard to make. A lot of thinking had to be done to figure out the steps of creating the top. With lots of layers and bagging out, not to mention how annoying it is to work with Lycra (trust me, all the machines at uni hate this fabric), this fabric took ages to sew. Figuring out how to make it clean in and out and hide all of the stitches caused me, my tutors and my technicians a headache. The frills on the armhole had to be hand-sewn because the sewing machines refused to work with the fabric. The turtleneck was also a hassle, it was either too loose or didn’t fit in the head. In the end, I had to fix the turtleneck around 3 times after my submission.
I really enjoyed the time I spent studying BA (Hons) Fashion Sportwear at LCF. The biggest takeaway was how we get a lot of opportunities to connect with people in the industry, and how the tutors really know and remember your work, your strengths, your progress and everything. Being a small course, we also got the chance to know everyone, even those who are not in our year, which is really nice because we were able to help each other and build potential future connections. After graduation, I am hoping that I could find a job in the industry and learn even more from the real world.