Q&A | Death to Tennis

by Ottavia Brey

Photo courtesy of the brand.

Photo courtesy of the brand.

Death to Tennis is classic menswear with a modern twist. Founded in 2012 by William Watson and Vincent Oshin, the brand is a multifaceted, ever-evolving microcosm. The duo’s first runway show marked the creation of an immersive, alternative universe - an amalgamation of music, theater, and conceptual art. This layered experience continues through the brand’s videos - vignettes frequently published on their website that serve to highlight their singular sartorial point of view.

Flaunt recently caught up with Watson to discuss the brand’s origins, sources of inspiration, and upcoming summer collection. Make sure to check out the interview below.

How did the brand first come to be?

The brand’s origins go way back to 2008, when I started doing some exclusive graphic T’s. In 2012, the name and the brand were revived during a chance meeting with former partner Vincent on a shoot for my namesake brand, William Watson (currently on hiatus). At that time, sharing similar goals in menswear, Death to Tennis started out with 3 outerwear pieces, landing in two of the leading boutiques in NYC, Oden and CHCM, in the first season.

Where did the name Death to Tennis come from?

It all started with a little sketch. I created a little logo one day in a notebook around 2008 - it was a little skull and crossed tennis rackets (we are introducing that very logo for Fall 2019 for the first time)...The name followed shortly after that. The name has developed so much like the brand, with “Tennis” being a metaphor for your struggles/fears and “Death” the killer of all fears.

What drew you to menswear?

Growing up in the north of England from a working class family, options were limited, other than the military. I learned to draw from my stepfather, never thinking it would lead to Art school; it showed me how to use my skills in the world of fashion. I was drawn to menswear because I always wanted to dress myself better. Given my background and no means to financially do it, learning to do it for myself changed the game and I have never looked back.

You take inspiration from a variety of sources. Could you speak to what specific influences shape your work?

Movies have always been a huge influence on me. I go through phases. I never have a favorite. I just like to consume, and now I find myself immersed in Manga / Anime, lost in the fantasy of an alternative world. I also love meeting artists and working together with them to help inform the line. Vintage clothes, small details hidden on a piece nobody would look at sometimes can inform a whole season. And I constantly sketch day and night, whenever or whatever most of the time with no idea of what will land on the page...Letting the universe guide my hand…

Photo courtesy of the brand.

Photo courtesy of the brand.

How would you describe the brand’s aesthetic?

Adult Streetwear. We have always been cautious using that phrase, but I believe it best describes what we are up to here. “Adult” is a reference to a mindset, not an age.

In addition to your collections, you regularly publish a series of short video vignettes. How did the idea come to create these, and how do they work to showcase your designs?

We work with multiple directors and new artists, developing ideas together. I believe that nobody wants to watch a 3-minute movie about people standing wearing clothes. We work with the concept that story is first, and our clothes are merely props to enhance the feel of the movie. Working from this standpoint means that the stories are interesting and compelling viewing.

How do you feel that your artistry is challenging mainstream conceptions of menswear?

The menswear market today is growing fast. Men are waking up to the realities of how they look and dress. We offer a product that is designed to make men and women feel confident (Women often wear our clothes, loving the fit).

Death to Tennis does this on its own terms. We don’t compromise when it comes to design and quality. We add details upon details to our garments so that when the wearer finds it, maybe not the first time they wear it or maybe not even the 5th time, one notice makes them that much more happy with their purchase, bringing us loyal customers who always want more.

Your latest summer collection drops in June. What can you tell us about it?

Color. Lots of color. Summers on the beach in England, sucking on a rocket ice lolly, fish and chips, windy beaches, memories of home.

Death to Tennis’ new summer drop debuts exclusively online mid June.

Photographed by Louis Brown