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We Explore The Connection Between Streetwear & Football

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The streetwear football connection has become big stuff over the last few years on and off the pitch. We take a look at where it all started and how it has evolved.

This summer, the world’s eyes will turn to Russia as the 2018 FIFA World Cup kicks off. But before the teams take to the pitch, designers of streetwear are dropping collections with sports brands to celebrate the tournament.

Football gear – like kits, tracksuits, and runners – have become staples in streetwear. But for a long time, football gear took a backseat to skating brands like Supreme and Palace. GQ noted a shift in trends, earlier this year when it asked “Is Soccer Replacing Skateboarding as Fashion’s Bandwagon of the Moment?”

While the headline incensed members of the creative football subculture who have been flexing in the 1998 blue France kit or retro PSG shirts for years, there’s undoubtedly been an awakening among headlining brands of incorporating football into their collections.

And with the World Cup on the horizon, these brands are teaming up with sportswear brands to drop some inspired pieces of football gear meant to be worn off the pitch.

Last year, PSG teamed up with French brand Koché to release a line that included suits and camp shirts sporting the PSG logo. The pieces received a mixed reaction on social media but it’s hard to argue that the pieces weren’t original and taking football culture in new directions.

Gosha Rubchinskiy SS18

Other notable collaborations include adidas Football and Russian-designer Gosha Rubchinskiy, Palace and adidas Originals, and Virgil Abloh’s Off-White and Nike.

Gosha’s latest collection includes a few inspired pieces, including baggy adidas kits adorned with Cyrillic fonts across the chest that plays on the nostalgia of the early 90s and post-Soviet style. Other items include shorts, tank tops, and a selection of Copa and Nemeziz shoes that would stand out in a 5-a-side match or on a night out.

Palace recently came out with a Princess Diana themed football scarf and an adidas football – a rare piece for fashion brands. Palace has a long history of merging football and skating culture and last year teamed up with A$AP Ferg’s brand Trap Lord and Adidas Originals to create a sartorial white kit with thin red stripes.

Palace Spring 2017

Off White’s founder Virgil Abloh was in London in February to drop his latest collaboration with Nike. The black and white checkered piece is inspired by some fan favorites of the past – including Dutch national team motifs. He also took the opportunity to unveil a pair of orange Off White x Nike Mercurial VaporMax XII 360 boots. The streetwear giant is expected to drop more items before the launch of the tournament in June.

Umbro, the original football culture brand, is also making a play before the World Cup with a collaboration with Dutch-brand Patta. The collaboration is based on the designs of Amsterdam-powerhouse club Ajax’s shirts in the 1990-91 season.

Patta x Umbro football shirts

In addition to these pieces, a number of brands have come out with a piece playing on a football terrace staple – the supporter scarf. The Wall Street Journal noted this trend earlier this year, interviewing confused football fans who couldn’t seem to understand why high fashion would want to pair what are often low-graphic, low-quality, acrylic scarves with sleek trench coats and designer jeans. But football scarves’ use, much like that of kits, evolved beyond the terraces long before their appropriation on the runway. Even less celebrated, more economical brands like ASOS have featured their own iteration of the club football scarf.

The result is a burgeoning creative football culture. And outside the mainstream fashion world, a grassroots, design-focused community is emerging with football-inspired gear too. Major brands like adidas, Hummel, Umbro and others are teaming up with these entities to release lines of gear just in time for kickoff this summer.

adidas and Chinatown Soccer Club, a football club founded in New York in 2002, teamed up to release the White Noise Kit earlier this year. The static motif also features on France’s white World Cup kit with Nike.

Danish sportswear brand Hummel teamed up with UK-based football culture magazine Mundial to release a “Weekend Tracksuit” that recalls casual culture. According to the press release, the outfit is supposed to say “mate look at me and how much I don’t care about fashion, however damn I look good. Come and look at how good I look and how much I don’t care.”

Football streetwear umbro x alife

Croatian designer Damir Doma and Italian brand Lotto collaborated on a capsule in February, while Umbro dropped a kit with legendary New York streetwear brand A-Life.

As the World Cup approaches, more drops can be expected from the grassroots to the runway. And come June, the line up of kits, scarves, and more will range from national team staples to bespoke original pieces.

In other similar type features you can also check our interview with Neal Heard from 2017.

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Justin Olivier Salhani
Justin Olivier Salhani

Justin Olivier Salhani is a writer, journalist, creative and amateur footballer based in Milan, Italy. He's the founder of Guerrilla FC; a creative collective/streetwear brand inspired by football and the creative director at lowsocks creative, and managing editor of Latterly Magazine. He's particularly into the intersection of where streetwear and football meet and how the two cultures inspire one another. He was previously based in Washington, DC and Beirut, Lebanon.

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