Introducing: Palmes

Palmes was inspired by founder Nikolaj Hansson’s experience playing a round of tennis at a local club in a small town in the Pyrenees. Upon removing his shirt to cope with the heat, he was told by the club’s president that shirts must be worn at all times. At their core, tennis’ foundations are rooted in sophisticated dress code. Tennis attire has long since conveyed a sense of sartorial elegance – an undertone Palmes explores with finely tailored clothing designed for on and off the court. However the Copenhagen-based label’s meaning runs much deeper than this premise. Hansson was originally a skater and subtly references his admiration of skate clothing, and its innate individuality, by finding a perfect sweet spot between classic tennis apparel and contemporary pieces. Palmes’ ready-to-wear offers a progressive interpretation of modern clothing through the lens of tennis. In the way of interesting silhouettes, beautiful graphics and embroideries, as well as usage of fine eco-friendly materials, Palmes is remoulding perceptions of tennis style and inspiring a new audience to immerse themselves within an evolving culture.

In conjunction with our first collection from Palmes at HIP, we spoke to founder Nikolaj Hansson to talk about the brand’s origin story, all things tennis and more.

Firstly, please introduce yourself and your role within Palmes?

My name is Nikolaj and I’m the founder of Palmes.

Can you tell us about the beginnings of Palmes and how it started?

Palmes came from an idea of showing tennis as a sport and culture through a more progressive scope. I think so many people feel like tennis isn’t for them because they can’t identify with the current image of tennis in popular culture. At Palmes, we love all the things that tennis is often shown as; the inherent traditions, white clothes, unwritten rules, the formality in how referees address the players on court and so on. But we want to show that tennis can be so much more than that and, most importantly, that you shouldn’t change who you are according to what tennis is. Instead, you should change tennis into whatever you like on an individual level.

What do you admire about tennis style – both past and present?

There are so many things but often in different ends of the spectrum. I love how insanely well-dressed the referees at Wimbledon have been since the beginning of time; how the players there wore dress shirts and chinos on-court in the 1930s. I love how Agassi said fuck it and wore a wig and denim shorts with pink tights underneath at the final of the 1990 French Open. I love Yannick Noah’s tiny shorts. I love the sweater vests of Boris Becker.

Where does Palmes’ style sit in terms of this divide between vintage tennis gear and the functional performance gear we see now?

I don’t see us as being in the vintage space but more so in a realm of contemporary menswear with roots in tennis culture for wearing on and off court. We do tennis shorts with pockets that fit 4 tennis balls each and an added fabric panel that provides freedom of movement while on court. They’re great for playing in but I’m also wearing them at our office right now as of writing this. We do polo shirts with armpits fitted with room that allows for serving and smashing, but it also just looks great and is created to be worn daily too. Alongside these items are everyday pieces from tees and hoodies over shirting and tailoring to trousers and knitwear, made for daily wear yet with the feelings of tennis flowing throughout.

How has your background as a skater informed Palmes?

I think this idea of approaching tennis from an individualistic perspective and making it your own but also a feeling of learning the ropes yourself. When you start out skating, there’s no class or teachers or practice; you just go to the skate park, meet other skaters and maybe someone might give you a tip on how to learn an ollie. But you learn everything, unwritten rules included, on your own accord as you go. With Palmes, we want to take that same approach and show that you just have to involve yourself in tennis and its culture simply because you think it’s fun and rewarding and the rest will come naturally from there.

What is the tennis scene like in Copenhagen?

Kinda closed, I’d say. We don’t have any public courts, so you need to be a member of a club to play, paying an annual membership etc. And since tennis has been on the come-up, a lot of the clubs now have +12 month waitlist to get in. I’m often pondering about this when I’m biking to the office in the morning: How come there are so many skateparks (which I love, don’t get me wrong!), football pitches and basketball courts that are free for everyone to use but no tennis courts? It’s literally just building a hard court surface that requires close to no maintenance and slapping a net on it. It’s something I hope that we can make a change to some years into the future; building public courts that are open to everyone.

You recently collaborated with popular podcast How Long Gone, how did that partnership form?

We have some of friends in common who introduced us to one another and we quickly connected over a shared love for everything tennis, so it grew naturally from there.

What’s next for Palmes and where do you see the future of tennis going?

We’re working on more projects that will see us fusing the feelings of tennis with other subcultures to bridge the gap between tennis and the outside world, broadening its scope and driving the culture forward in a progressive, positive way.

Keep up to date with Palmes here.

New to HIP for AW22 – Palmes. Online now.