Roger Federer Reportedly Leaves Nike for Uniqlo (and Stacks of Cash)

Cam Wolf
GQ

The most stylish man in tennis is reportedly getting a brand new on-court wardrobe. Roger Federer is said to be leaving his longtime sponsor Nike for a new deal at Uniqlo that will pay him $300 million over 10 years. Federer has been with Nike since 1994; his most recent 10-year deal reportedly paid him somewhere in the ballpark of $10 million annually. That’s still do-whatever-you-want money, but the potential deal with Uniqlo would net Fed $30 million every year—his total earnings last year were barely double that, according to Forbes. What’s most interesting about the deal, though, is that while Federer is still playing like one of the world’s best players (he’s currently ranked second, just after Rafael Nadal), the 36-year-old will be pushing past his mid-40s when this deal expires—and, presumably, well past his playing days. So what’s in it for Uniqlo to give the tennis great this sort of deal?

The Japanese brand actually seems to be taking a page out of Nike’s playbook. In recent years, the Swoosh has made a practice of signing the best players to long-term deals that extend beyond their playing days. The Beaverton-based brand is still releasing shoes for retired Los Angeles Laker great Kobe Bryant and it’s inked lifetime deals with the likes of Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and Cristiano Ronaldo. Uniqlo, in the same way, is hoping to squeeze value out of Federer—as beloved a tennis player as has ever existed—even after he’s done playing. Once the ink is dry on this deal, we wouldn’t be surprised if walking into a Uniqlo store felt like walking into Fed’s family home, with images of him plastered everywhere.

And despite the high price tag, the deal makes plenty of sense for Uniqlo. The Japanese brand has long tried to get into tennis: it signed Novak Djokovic in 2012 before letting him walk for Lacoste last year, and currently has a deal with Kei Nishikori. The brand clearly cares about making headway into tennis—perhaps the sport where on-court outfits are most like what regular folks wear off-court—and there’s no better way than signing the sport’s most beloved player. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s widely considered one of the most stylish guys in the world.

Scroll to continue with content
Ad

There are, however, two funny wrinkles around this deal. For one: Nike owns the RF logo associated with Federer’s brand, shoes, and clothes. That’s not going with him to Uniqlo. Second: Uniqlo doesn’t make shoes, so Federer will have to sign a separate deal for his on-court gear. ESPN footwear reporter Nick DePaula says that Adidas is the most likely landing spot. Still, Uniqlo prides itself on its technical fabrics—like “Heattech” and “Airism”—and a deal with Federer gives the brand a chance to get the word out. Federer loves to make a statement with his uniform, and nowhere is wardrobe more important than Wimbledon, the next major tourney on the schedule, where players wear all white. So when he shows up in London next month, keep your eyes peeled for the legend’s Uniqlo fit.

Watch Now:

Issa Rae: Don’t Be “That Guy”

See the video.

What to Read Next