It was at the end of the 1940s that Fred Perry was approached by Tibby Wegner, a former Austrian footballer, with an idea for marketing a sweatband bearing the Fred Perry name. Fred had previously used gauze wrapped around his wrist to protect the racquet handle from perspiration. The original sweatband was made from bath towel material and "weighed a ton", according to Fred in his autobiography. The redesigned prototype, made in Leicester, was light, soft and pliable. From that moment they were in business. They marketed the sweatbands by giving them away to the top players at the best tournaments, persuading them to wear them on court; the players did, and Fred Perry Sportswear was launched.
Fred Perry soon developed the business with Wegner by making Fred Perry polo shirts. The Fred Perry logo was skillfully merchandised by offering these polo shirts to BBC cameramen, whilst Fred Perry and Dan Maskell both wore them when commentating. They gave polos to all the leading players; it was the era of Hoad, Rosewell and the young Australians, who were only too keen to get their hands on these new items of clothing, since they looked better than the baggy, ill-fitting alternatives.
It was a clever and successful marketing initiative. People became aware of the Fred Perry logo and associated it with Wimbledon, the world's premier tennis tournament, and the world's finest tennis players. The Fred Perry polo shirt hit the jackpot. It was a good product; customers saw it, liked it and bought it. The construction of the cotton piqué shirt, with its open honeycomb stitch and great fit, made it perfect as performance wear for tennis and soon became the shirt of choice for several subcultures throughout the world.
Being very popular among youth again, Fred Perry once was the shirt of choice for several distinctive groups of teenagers throughout the '60s and '70s. Although those days are long gone, the Fred Perry laurel logo (usually found on the left chest of the polo shirts) has remained an important staple in the style of today's generation. Especially popular in the indie subculture, the signature fit of the Fred Perry shirt has proven to bridge the gaps of diverse demographics.