Friday 29th March

| BY Helena Fletcher

The Scores Are In – Football and Fashion Are A Match Made In Heaven

The relationship between fashion and football has gone a long way since David Beckham first stripped off and oiled up to front the Emporio Armani underwear campaign in 2007. Dubbed ‘the patron of soccer style’, last year the football icon was appointed as the British Fashion Council’s ambassadorial president; a new role created to raise the profile of British fashion talent internationally. Beckham is also the part-owner of contemporary menswear brand Kent & Curwen and the husband of fashion designer and icon Victoria Beckham. Fashion is no stranger to borrowing from football with the likes of Han Kjøbenhavn, Palace, Koché and Iceberg all giving football kits and merch their contemporary spin. With footballers sitting FROW and some of our favourite brands designing team kits, it seems like football is (finally) getting more fashionable.

Earlier this month Giorgio Armani announced that the designer had signed a four year contract with the Italian Football Federation FIGC (Federazione Italiana Gioco Calcio) as its “Fashion & Luxury Outfitter”. Armani is no stranger to a sporty collab, having previously designed the Italian team’s national uniform for the 2012 and 2016 Olympics as well as having turned his hand to the official uniform for the English National team as well as for Premier League clubs including Chelsea and Bayern Munich. For the FIGC he will be designing the formal (off the pitch) wardrobe for the men’s, women’s and under 21s national teams. The team’s uniform will comprise of an Emporio Armani suit, shirt and overcoat, belt, backpack and small leather goods. All featuring the FIGC shield of course.

“This agreement makes me particularly happy: I am returning to football after my experience with Chelsea and Bayern, and once again I am dressing the Italian national team, as I did for the 1994 World Cup,” explains Giorgio Armani. “I am proud to partner with the FIGC and to offer our athletes my idea of soft formality and elegant practicality. I have created a wardrobe that is consistent with my vision, designed for athletes who are constantly on the move. It is another way to communicate Italy’s sense of style to the world,” he adds.

Across the Med, for FC Barcelona’s 2018/2019 portrait, Luis Suárez, Gerard Piqué and Lionel Messi and team ditched their burgundy and blue stripped kit for a Thom Browne suit. Shot by fashion photographer Phil Poynter against a white colourama backdrop at Cirutat Esportiva the team’s training ground in Sant Joan Despí, the players wore Browne’s hand-tailored fully canvased 3-roll-2 grey flannel jackets and trousers paired with washed point oxford collar shirts, cardigan vests. The suits are finished with a multitude of Browne’s signature details; more complex than explaining the offside rule, including a grey and white varsity stripe silk lining, grosgrain heel guard at the cuffs, brown horn buttons and matching suiting fabric ties. “It’s rigorous tailoring off the pitch for a club that exhibits rigorous perfection on it,” explains the press release. Hugo Boss has also renewed partnerships with multiple teams including Paris Saint-Germain, AS Roma, Real Madrid, Tottenham Hotspur and FC Bayern.

For the debut of the Nike x Off-White football collaboration last June, Virgil Abloh enrolled his old high school’s soccer team the Titans as the models. The checkerboard Bolan Catholic school in Illinois’ strip was given an Abloh update with the addition of a Nike tick and cursive Off-White logo across the chest (a nod to how European teams have their sponsors printed on their shirts), as well as the team’s juggling lion crest. Also creating a second option of a white long sleeve, complete with logos and with the addition of a Yves-Klein blue circle.

Kim Jones was simultaneously tapped by the brand to provide his take on a footballing kit, which resulted in a navy kit inspired by the DIY tailoring of the punk era, realised in sports tech fabrics and finished with an iridescent smiley Nike logo. Whilst Martine Rose’s first collaborative capsule with Nike, released in January, featured football jerseys on a baggy basketball player scale, following on from her AW18 the red and black striped shirts with Carlsberg-esque logo.

Preceding the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France this summer, Nike recently revealed its focus in 2019 will be on women. The sportswear titans showcased their new home and away kits for 14 national teams partaking in a blockbuster launch presentation that was inescapable on social media, at the beginning of March. This time around the kits were actually made for women rather than just adapted derivations of men’s uniform, which will be the first time since Nike started working with The Women’s World Cup in 1995. Plus each kit is made of up to 12 recycled bottles, so they’re better fitting, more stylish and sustainable.

Arsenal and Spain International player Héctor Bellerín was a firm fixture on the front row and parties at London Fashion Week Men’s in January and profiled in the April issue of British Vogue. With a self-confessed penchant for Prada, the 24-year-old defender is also a big supporter of Liam Hodges, Christopher Shannon and Craig Green and regularly shops at Machine-A. Bellerín is currently completing a course in styling and branding and not afraid of turning heads with his looks. Suave German goalie Kevin Trapp sat between fellow PSG player Neymar (fresh from his Man About Town cover) and Beckham for Kim Jones’s final Louis Vuitton show last year. Whilst Chelsea’s striker, currently on loan to Crystal Palace Michu Batshuyai, PSG’s Timothy Weah, Man United’s Jesse Linguard and Marcus Rashford are also known for being on the ball with their streetwear style. Both on and off the pitch, it’s fantasy fashion league.