Tennis-Inspired Activewear Brand Full Court is Staying Niche — For Now

Marguerite Wade is slowly expanding her cool, sport-meets-street women's apparel, but hopes to one day be on par with Nike and Adidas.
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Full Court's 2016 collection. Photo: Tina Tyrell

Full Court's 2016 collection. Photo: Tina Tyrell

When Marguerite Wade came up with the idea of launching her own activewear line nearly three years ago, she was constantly being told to design for a sport that she really had no interest in. "I got totally overwhelmed and people tried to drag me into the yoga world," remembers Wade. "There's nothing wrong it with but it's not my vibe." Rather than being bunched with a slew of new brands in a billion-dollar market that's already on the brink of oversaturation, Wade stuck to her guns and, in 2014, debuted Full Court, a niche line of active apparel inspired by tennis. Though the pieces can easily skew between sportswear and streetwear.

Since Wade launched Full Court, it has been a one-woman show; she self-funds every collection (three total so far) with her savings and earnings from a small batch of retailers — Opening Ceremony, Urban Outfitters and, most recently, Style Runner — that have so far bought into her line. "It's risky but it's definitely possible," says Wade on investing in her own label. In June, she launched e-commerce so visitors can shop the label's latest collection, along with a few staple items like racerback tanks for $55 and sports bras for $45.

Full Court's 2016 collection. Photo: Tina Tyrell

Full Court's 2016 collection. Photo: Tina Tyrell

Full Court is more than a side hustle for Wade, who still has a career doing set and production design for fashion and advertising clients. But a lot of her day job actually helps her label. "[I'm] constantly on the hunt finding the best things to facilitate these big ideas and dreams," explains Wade. She took that sensibility and brought it to Full Court, researching where things are done well, especially when it comes to activewear. Wade's findings brought her from New York City, where she's currently based, to Portland, Oregon.

Determined to maintain manufacturing in the U.S., Wade first scoured her hometown's Garment District for a factory, but it was “slim pickings” when it came to activewear. Portland was a shoo-in: the city is home to two of the biggest active brands in the world — Nike and Adidas. Soon enough, Wade partnered with a factory that works on NCAA college uniforms to do the first small run of Full Court.

Full Court's 2016 collection. Photo: Tina Tyrell

Full Court's 2016 collection. Photo: Tina Tyrell

With each season, Wade continues to streamline Full Court's aesthetic, keeping its silhouettes the same but experimenting with fabrics (moisture-wicking, antimicrobial and water-repellent) and a more minimal color palette. The current collection, which ranges in price from $60 to $285, comes in blue, white and dusty rose. A hooded windbreaker, the only piece that's bright green, is a newly introduced style for Full Court. 

"I was looking for something more functional that I could transition into my daily life a little more seamlessly," explains Wade about how different the activewear market was only a few years ago. "There was no sort of powerful or cool gear for women. I was constantly shopping in the men's department for sports clothes and I know a lot of people were doing the same."

With that in mind, Wade's intrigued by the idea of designing more unisex apparel for her forthcoming collections. "It's definitely an interesting challenge," she says, adding that Full Court already boasts a number of male clients. She'd also like to see her activewear apparel in a major sports retailer like Paragon Sports, though not exclusively. (Being in fashion boutiques has its perks, too.) But a long-term goal for Wade is that Full Court garners enough attention to be in the mix with Nike and Adidas. So far, she’s off to a good start.

Click through the gallery below to view Full Court's 2016 collection.

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