For anyone that isn’t a big tennis aficionado: Rafael Nadal is the world’s top player with the weird/Eurotrashy clothing selections.
You’ll often see him sporting long hair held back with a colorful bandanna, sleeveless tank top/t-shirts, and his go-to just-past-the-knee, tight-fitting capri pants.
I wouldn’t give the dude a hard time for any of this because 1.) he’s got the muscles to show off (“he must work out”), 2.) the top ranking in the world, 3.) and tons of sponsorship money. Plus 4.) he’s European (Spanish), so what would you expect?
But the big wigs over at Nike aren’t taking too kindly to their top tennis pitchman’s wardrobe choices. As the US Open unfolds, the American audience is getting a good look at all the clothes worn during the matches. And the sport of tennis has a much more affluent and participatory audience compared to many of the other major televised athletic events. Bad news for Nike.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Nike announced Nadal will be wearing some more conservative polo shirts and looser, more traditional shorts for the US Open. They referred to it as him ‘growing up’.
But everyone’s favorite CNBC sports business reporter, Darren Rovell, has the other, darker side of the story:
Although Nadal’s public relations person told The Wall Street Journal before the tournament that this was the Spaniard’s choice, I knew from the start it couldn’t have been. It was Nike’s choice. Why? Because just like Puma couldn’t sell Serena catsuits, Nike can’t sell cutoffs and tight capris to the average tennis player. Not only does the average tennis player not have the guns to showcase, but try wearing the cutoffs at a country club. And those pants? I’ve never seen one average Joe wearing those.
We know the story by now. Nadal said he couldn’t get used to the attire in time and has worn his muscle T’s and capris throughout the Open. Bottom line is it’s a great look for Nadal and adds to his personality, but his clothing choice is admittedly bad for Nike’s business.
Nike just can’t seem to catch a break this summer. First they got called out hardcore for snubbing adidas’ Dwight Howard in the Team USA promo photos and then they announced that they officially sucked at making swimsuits compared to Speedo. What they need to do is just chill out and wait for Tiger Woods to come back. Then all will be right in the world.
Let us know in the comments section if you would buy and wear Nadal’s questionable wardrobe. Better yet, maybe you should just keep that kind of stuff to yourself. Football/Futbol season starts soon!
CNBC: Nadal, Nike & The Open: The Hidden Uniform Agenda?, September 2, 2008
WSJ: Refining Tennis’s Rebel King, August 25, 2008