Roger Federer is one of the greatest tennis players we’ll ever see. The 20-time Grand Slam winner continues to be one of the game’s most dominant players at 37 years old. Things have changed for Federer recently, though. He left Nike, where he had been for over 20 years, to sign to Uniqlo and he recently partnered with German luxury suitcase maker Rimowa for the brand’s first ever global integrated campaign. One of the biggest things people have been wondering, though: When is he going to get his RF logo back?
“I think down the road, hopefully soon, as soon as possible, hopefully in the next year or so,” Federer says.
And we may it see it down the road on a suitcase or t-shirt, as Federer tells it.
Rimowa, which has been around since 1898, has become increasingly popular as of late. The brand has collaborated with Supreme, Off-White, and Fendi in the past year, and now working with Federer is only going to make the company more visible in pop culture. We had the opportunity to talk to Federer about his involvement with Rimowa, but also if we’ll see his legendary RF logo pop up on a suitcase or piece of Uniqlo clothing in the future as well, as his best traveling advice and what it’s like to rub elbows with Virgil Abloh.
(This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.)
How does it feel to have the campaign with Rimowa?
I love being associated with Rimowa. I have been traveling for so, so long, so bags and packing and unpacking and organizing have been part of my life for so long that I feel like it is a very natural fit. I love their designs and very proud to be their ambassador. [It’s one of the most] iconic brands as well, and I feel like there’s still a lot of potential. They’ve had collaborations with Fendi, Off-White, and even Supreme. They are showing that they are very creative, and a lot is happening at the brand right now, which is very exciting and I'm glad to be a part of that.
Virgil Abloh had a collaboration with Rimowa and you wore his sneakers at the U.S. Open last year. Have you met?
So actually we have met. Funny enough, we met in Miami. We were both there in the same city at the same time in April, and we had a drink together and just talked. It was very interesting. It was around the day before he announced to be the men's head designer for Louis Vuitton, so there was some exciting news he could share with me there. He thought it was very exciting that I wore his shoe as well. Of course, I love to wear his shoes, but we have not spoken about Rimowa. We also saw each other at an event for Moët & Chandon as well in Paris, which he attended. We tend to bump into each other from time to time, which is great.
How many pairs of sneakers do you take when you travel, do you stuff in more pairs that can fit?
When I go on a trip I probably need three tennis shoes, and then I have four sneakers that I take along. Then probably two dress shoes, so that's it. With the shoes that my wife brings as well, we share a Rimowa bag and suitcase. We probably have one that is all shoes.
What happens if you miss the flight? Do they hold the plane?
A little bit of everything to be honest. I have missed a couple of flights in my life. When you are flying private and you are late, you are just late and then they are going to wait [for you]. Missing a [commercial] flight can be very nerve-racking, but that is part of the experience and you know maybe next time you have to leave sooner or check the connection better. Nowadays I try to avoid transit as much as possible, not only because you lose luggage along the way, but I'm lucky to fly in the jet, the private jet, quite often. I think that helps to keep me more injury-free, especially with the family, [it] makes traveling as comfortable and easy as possible.
What’s it been like being with Uniqlo now after leaving Nike?
It’s been a great big change for me after being with Nike for a bit over 20 years, finding a partner in Uniqlo, who believes in me as a player and as a person so much. It was a beautiful thing and I can't wait to get to Tokyo. I'm going to be traveling to Japan in the next three weeks or so. I have not met the guys yet, but I hear they are in Brooklyn. We are going to get together and go see some art and architecture together. I was already speaking with John Jay [the brand’s president of global creative] to just see the inspiration, and they get to know me as quick as possible. I love what Uniqlo does, and it's a lifewear company. John Jay said at one point when I retire from tennis I will not retire from life. I think it is a good fit for me now.
Did you guys have any overlap when he was at Wieden and Kennedy when you were at Nike?
No actually not, I only got to know him through Uniqlo.
Can we expect the RF logo to pop up on anything whether, it be a suitcase of Uniqlo clothing?
I think down the road, hopefully soon, as soon as possible, hopefully in the next year or so. The agreement still stands that Nike can sell off the RF things, the clothes, which is part of the agreement. I think it is important to maintain that relationship, you know, because we play by the rules. That's what we do, but down the road, yes, I can't wait for the RF to come back, and then we can see what we can do [with it]. Even if it is with Rimowa or not. They would want me to design a suitcase or not. I mean, of course, I would love to, but at the same time they have other, better people to do it.
What's like the best travel advice that you could give someone that you have learned over the years?
I think don't overpack, don't pack too much stuff. It's nice to not have too many suitcases so you want to be convenient, you want to be fast. I think avoiding transit. Having slept enough and eaten well before a flight is good, not panicked. Stuff always happens when you travel, you know bad things or cool experiences, so just be ready for it and don't sweat it. It's part of the journey, and I think once you get to a new time zone try to adjust as quick as possible with eating and sleeping habits. Get into that time zone, almost forget about what time it is at home or the place you left. I always look at the time zone where I am, and I actually forget what time it is at home, so I think that is very helpful for me.