Prince has long held a place in the royalty of tennis history. And as the brand reignites on and off the court, Prince Creative Director David Grutman continues to drive the Prince Off Court collection forward, now with the release of lifestyle footwear tied to the brand’s 1970-born archives.
The new collection, highlighted by a remake of the FST838 and a choice of two slide designs, offers an extension of how the brand sees itself fitting into today’s market, Grutman says. “The company’s heritage is in tennis and athletics, but much of what it did back then looks and feels great today, whether on and off the court. “, he adds. “Taking into his heritage feels very natural.”
Grutman started with the FST838 in multiple colorways, a chance to bring back and update a performance sneaker and expand its appeal. “After scouring the archives, we decided the FST838 was the best fit,” says Grutman. “This model is an original Prince design from 1985, and it fits perfectly with what we have done, and where we are going, with the Off Court collection.”
Dubbed a “total throwback” but modernized in materials and construction, the look of the 2022 model is fairly close to the original 1985 FST838. Originally designed for field competition, Grutman says that although it Now a heritage lifestyle, it still has some of the hallmarks of a performance tennis shoe, like a lace-lock system for support and a graduated rubber outsole for traction. And it’s all made with vegan napa leather, terrycloth lining, historic woven labels, and lots of neon colors.
The two zipper designs that are part of this early shoe release “are meant to be easygoing, and the look is bright and vibrant.”
Grutman, the founder of LIV in Fontainebleau, one of the country’s most profitable nightclubs, and his Groot Hospitality operate clubs and restaurants around Miami, helping him propel himself into the music industry and entertainment. He added his role to Prince Off Court with an UNKNWN collaboration in the spring of 2019. Since then, we’ve seen him create his own collections or collaborate with Sean Wotherspoon, Braindead, Childsplay Clothing and Yacht Club.
The creative director used the power of 1980s and 1990s Prince, owned by Authentic Brands Group since 2012, to help revitalize the fashion side of the brand, although the performance side has seen recent gains, particularly with a complete overhaul and upgrade of his racquets. Women’s World No. 1 Iga Swiatek, now on a sponsorship deal with Tecnifibre which includes a signature frame, used a Prince model when winning the 2020 French Open. American John Isner currently plays with a Prince model . Prince’s story includes Andre Agassi, Michael Chang, Maria Sharapova, Jennifer Capriati and doubles the Bryan brothers.
Prince Off Court has played on the brand’s rich history with tracksuits and nostalgia in its Off Court collections and the foray into lifestyle footwear with the FST838 fits this theme. Grutman says he expects new introductions to the Prince Off Court shoe space later in the year and upcoming styles will have various color and material changes.
As Prince On Court and Prince Off Court remain relatively separate, Grutman knows there is always the possibility of bringing the two together. “We’re looking at it,” he says. “Never say never.”