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Q&A with Nikolaj Hansson of Palmes

Spring/Summer '23

Palmes, or Palmes Tennis Society, to give it its full name, is our latest Basement addition: a menswear collection with roots in tennis culture, designed for wearing on and off the court. In the spirit of its inspiration, Rob serves some questions and founder Nikolaj Hansson volleys (or does he lob?) the answers.

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Palmes has its aesthetic deeply rooted in tennis culture. What was the plan at the start with the label?

Palmes came from an idea of showing tennis as a sport and culture in a more progressive and forward-looking perspective. Coming from skateboarding myself, I had this idea of tennis being quite elitist and conservative, mainly because that's just how it's always been presented in popular culture, media and fashion. And I think many people don't play tennis for that reason, because they can't relate to its surrounding culture. With Palmes, we seek to hint towards whatever we find ourselves into at any given moment, be it from the spheres of art, architecture, design, skateboarding, music or the like, bringing these elements into tennis for a more open and relatable feeling which we hope will essentially get more people out there on the tennis courts.

A Los Angeles Day photographed by Sean Murray for Palmes

Tennis labels have always crossed over into working class mainstream fashion in the UK, particularly with brands like Fila and Ellesse. Did these serve as inspiration to you when you started Palmes?

Being an outsider to tennis when I first started playing myself, I found myself gravitating more towards things from the outside world and taking these into the world of tennis, rather than looking at what was already there.

The game in the UK has always been slightly tinged with overtones of elitism. Would it be fair to say this is the case in Denmark?

To a large extent, yes. An example is Copenhagen, where we're based. There are only private tennis clubs and no public courts, meaning that you have to be a member of a club to play. Most of the clubs have year-long waitlists, meaning that it's kinda impossible to play if you're not a member. Down the line, this is something that we want to shake up too.

Scenes of Tennis in Tokyo (1964-2021) by Jun Iwasaki for Palmes

How do you feel attitudes are changing on the court with what players are wearing? Could we see Palmes at Wimbledon or Flushing Meadow soon?

I think there's always been a yearning for individuality on the tennis court, all the way back to McEnroe, Agassi and the likes. Today, we're seeing players such as Francis Tiafoe, Nick Kyrgios and more bringing their own sense of style and charisma into the game. To me, they embody what we are forever pushing at Palmes: That tennis as a sport and culture can and should be for the many, not the few.

Finally, you are allowed to watch one classic match from the past; what would it be and why?

Undoubtedly the 1980 Wimbledon final of Borg and McEnroe with the iconic tie-break and everything.

 

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