Soccer = football. However, football is what the sport is. Yet, football + fashion?! Hmm… Today starts the quadrennial FIFA Football World Cup. Held in Russia this year amidst “unprecedented security“, the world’s single most watched event is a major geopolitical, cultural and economic
clusterfuck platform. Oh, and guys play ball. So what’s a fashion blogger to do at the stadium? I’m a die-hard fan of the game. I’m also passionate about fashion as a social medium. The intersection of football and fashion is one I’ve been curious to explore for a long time.
Goal: The People
There are easy targets such as captain of Team Portugal, one Cristiano Ronaldo, who runs his own CR7 fashion empire worth an estimated gazillion dollars in addition to endorsement deals aimed at his bajillion followers on Instagram. He has more social media clout than Kim Kardashian. Let that sink in. Cristiano regularly makes sports history offline while Kim is a full-time creature of the Internet. And yet, and yet. As teams recruit more and more international players, the modeling and role-modeling become part of the game. Literally.
GOAL: The Clothing
There are the team uniforms. It’s notable that the thirty-two countries tournament is equipped by just four global brands: Adidas, Nike, Puma and New Balance! Denmark is the only nation with a national kit purveyor, Hummel. That’s not just “globalization” for ya; such vertical consolidation of creativity suggests precarious long-term impact. Now, the question of national pride is also challenged when heritage brands like Le Coq Sportif in France and Umbro in the UK are left out of the process for the first time. Meanwhile, citizens of the Internetdom have already proclaimed Team Nigeria as the Most Stylish among the 2018 World Cup hopefuls. And my oh my… Yes, #SoarSuperEagles the African Fashion Renaissance is here. It. Is. Here.
GOAL: The Community
Last, but not least, there is the overall dynamic relationship between football and fashion as potent forces that (re)shape life of an individual and a community. Brands and teams are moving into the curated lifestyle territory that mergers the line between consumers and fans. It’s no longer about winning “games”. Identity is the new slogan. Belonging is the new sales pitch. It can be as problematic in its execution as it is inspiring in its potential. For its centennial season, CF Valencia (my home team in Spain) has signed a partnership with BLU Products. Their dramatic ad captures this fascinating inter-industry zeitgeist: the transformation is radical, presumably consensual and evidently irreversible. Oh, and there is nudity. Score!!!
As the World Cup gets going, I will track & report its fashion developments.
The brilliant cover image is from Marca, the Spanish sports daily newspaper.