Fashion Court: Opelka Explains Why A Clear Identity Is Key In Fashion & Tennis
Reilly Opelka works hard on his craft, and that helped him to a career-high No. 23 in the FedEx ATP Rankings earlier this month. But off court, you are far more likely to find the 24-year-old discussing fashion than tennis.
Ahead of the US Open — and New York Fashion Week (8-12 September) — ATPTour.com spoke to the American about his fashion inspirations, the time he spent with a designer earlier this year and why having a clear identity is important in both fashion and tennis.
Who is your biggest fashion influence?
The people I look up to are or were in the sport. I look up to Venus Williams a lot. She’s been a great mentor-figure for me. I’ve learned a lot from her. John Isner, he’s been similar. Just good people, really good people.
If you’re going out for a night with friends, what’s your go-to outfit?
Most of the time, I wear a lot of all-black. It depends on the occasion. I wear a lot of Rick Owens and it’s just all solids, there aren’t many prints. There’s a girl Paria Farzaneh, who I’m a really big fan of right now. I love her brand, it’s perfect for Florida because it’s all nylon and it’s technical fabric. When it starts pouring, a lot of her stuff is waterproof and almost built for Florida, but she’s from London. It makes sense, it rains a lot there. I’m really high on her right now.
She’s someone you can say I look up to outside of tennis. She won the LVMH Award, which is the equivalent of winning the Next Gen ATP Finals. It means you’re legit, and she’s done it on her own, which is so rare. Everything she makes comes from her and two or three others on her team. She’s really cool and a total badass. I like her philosophy.
We hung out in London before Wimbledon and I’m super high on her. I like her brand, I like seeing how she lives her brand. It’s people like that who I look up to outside of tennis. I’ve gotten a lot of inspiration from her and was stoked to hang out with her and see how she goes about her business and her thoughts on the fashion industry.
We’re kind of on the same page with things, but she’s very futuristic thinking with wanting everything to be timeless. She wants all her pieces to be passed down and everything has a purpose, it’s not just to look good.
How did you come across her?
I follow Fashion Week and she had a great show in Paris a couple years ago and then I followed her brand and we just got in touch. We got to link up this year for the first time in London.
She took me around where she is from, Brockley. In between tournaments I was able to leave the bubble, which was super refreshing. She took me around her little town in Brockley, South London. [Paria] and her boyfriend — who is a photographer and a really nice guy — came to all my matches at Queen’s Club, they came to Wimbledon. They brought some friends and made it fun. They showed me their hometown and made me feel comfortable.
I honestly can’t wait to go back and hang out and explore some more with them. It really left a mark on me, I don’t even know if she realises it. We just hung out for a day, but I was really impressed with her and just how she went about things.
Opelka wore a pink tie-dye shirt earlier this year. Photo Credit: Casey Sykes/Getty Images.
How nice is it to get to know people in these different industries?
I was a fan of her brand. I didn’t know what to expect out of her. But I didn’t know she was going to be that cool. She is a badass, that’s how I’d say it. She has a clear identity of what her brand is. She’s so certain on what she likes and that resonated well with me.
It’s similar to tennis in some ways. It’s just having a clear identity for how you want to be as a tennis player, how you want to go about your matches and practices. You can find some correlation and I think that’s pretty special.
What’s the biggest fashion mistake you’ve made?
Now things I buy are much more timeless and they’re less trendy. So many things go into trend and they go out quickly. It just defeats the purpose.
Sustainable fashion is something everyone tries to promote now... Everyone has to claim it now to be in fashion, they have to claim to be sustainable. They’re making cheesy prints that just aren’t timeless. They’re going to be outdated in two months. Whatever piece of clothing you bought just goes to waste, goes to shreds because you only wear it once. When I’m buying, I’m always looking to see if I can make sure I can wear it in 10, 15 years.
I’m an all-black guy. I wear all-black.
What’s something you’d never wear?
I don’t like leather too much on jackets. I’m not a big leather jacket guy. That’s definitely a no-go for me. Also those Balenciaga shoes that a lot of people wear, that are real big. Also Off-White. I’ll never wear Off-White, it’s a little cringy to me. Philipp Plein, very cringy, will never wear. Those are my top two no-goes.