Prince has long held a place in tennis history royalty. And as the brand reignites both on the court and off the court, David Grutman, creative director of Prince, continues to push forward the Prince Off Court collection, now with the release of lifestyle footwear tied to the archives of the 1970-born brand.
The new collection, highlighted by a remake of the FST838 and a pick from two slide models, offers an extension of how the brand sees itself fitting into the current marketplace, Grutman says. “The company’s legacy is in tennis and athletics, but so much of what it did back then looks and feels right for today—whether on or off the court,” he adds. “Tapping into its heritage feels very natural.”
Grutman started with the FST838 in multiple colorways, a chance to bring back and update a performance court sneaker and broaden its appeal. “After looking through the archives, we decided that the FST838 was the best fit,” Grutman says. “This model is an original Prince design from 1985, and it translated perfectly to what we’ve done, and where we’re going, with the Off Court collection.”
Dubbed as a “total throwback” but modernized in materials and build, the look of the 2022 model is quite close to the original 1985 FST838. Originally designed for on-court competition, Grutman says that while now a heritage lifestyle design, it still has some of the features of a performance tennis shoe, such as a lace-locking system for support and a graded rubber outsole for traction. And it is all done using vegan napa leather, terry cloth lining, heritage woven labels and plenty of neon colors.
The two slide models part of this first footwear release “are meant to be easygoing, and the look is bright and vibrant.”
Grutman, the founder of LIV at Fontainebleau, one of the top-grossing nightclubs in the country, and his Groot Hospitality operates clubs and restaurants around Miami, helping propel him into the music and entertainment industry. He added his role at Prince Off Court with a spring 2019 UNKNWN collaboration. Since that time, we’ve seen him create his own collections or collaborate with the likes of Sean Wotherspoon, Braindead, Childsplay Clothing and Yacht Club.
The creative director has used the power of 1980s and 1990s Prince, owned by Authentic Brands Group since 2012, to help revitalize the fashion side of the brand, even as the performance side has seen recent gains, especially with a complete overhaul and upgrade of its rackets. Women’s World No. 1 Iga Swiatek, now under a sponsorship agreement with Tecnifibre that includes a signature frame, used a Prince model when winning the 2020 French Open. American John Isner currently plays with a Prince model. Prince history includes the likes of Andre Agassi, Michael Chang, Maria Sharapova, Jennifer Capriati and doubles stars the Bryan brothers.
Prince Off Court has played off the brand’s rich history with tracksuits and nostalgia across its Off Court collections and the foray into lifestyle footwear with the FST838 fits that theme. Grutman says to expect new introductions in the Prince Off Court footwear space later in the year and the upcoming styles will have various color and material change ups.
As Prince On Court and Prince Off Court stay relatively separate, Grutman knows there’s always opportunity to bring the two together. “We’re looking at it,” he says. “Never say never.”