Fashion has held a significant influence on sport for several years. Fans in the early 1970s became pioneers in terrace-style fashion by wearing luxury brands such as Stone Island, Burberry, Fila etc. Footballers soon followed with casually walking around in bootcut jeans, baggy t-shirts and trucker hats. Players like Arsenal defender Hector Bellerin has led from the front with a new wave in luxury football fashion by being a fashion week regular alongside modelling for high-end brands. The cultural change has leveraged a colossal number of collaborations, partnerships and opportunities between the two sectors. This blog will discover how this propelling relationship began, the impact its made within football and how much potential the current football fashion has to continue revolutionising sports culture.
Football and fashion have always been teammates on and off the pitch. However, their relationship has immersed into a new dimension of sub-culture that also embeds music and art, evolving the football landscape into a global entertainment enterprise. It’s no longer taboo for non-sporting audiences to wear football shirts outside of the game. The trend has significantly propelled amongst UK rap music where artists like Santan Dave, AJ Tracey, Wiley and many more not only promote football kits through their music but they also actively reference the sport in their songs. This has been a groundbreaking moment for football to unlock a rapidly growing audience, Gen Z.
Coincidentally, rap music and luxury fashion have built an unorthodox bond which has prospered rap artists to become fashions new royalty. The growth of the genre has pounced into mainstream media where artists have frequently championed luxury fashion to entrench a feeling of success to inspire their audience via materialistic success. Football reacted to this theme by proactively getting rap artists and influencers involved in the sport to create commercial opportunity.
Clubs started inspiring their kit design to attract more Gen Z rap music demographics and rappers increased their association in promoting the sport by starring in football campaigns. Examples include Dutchavelli and Aitch promote Manchester United’s 20/21 Third Kit, AJ Tracey promoting Spurs’ merchandise through music video, False 9 and Wretch 32 musically narrating the 18/19 Champions League competition ahead of the final. The Nigerian football team has become recent pioneers in snazzy urban-style football kits. The futuristically inspired kit became so popular worldwide it sold out with over three million shirts purchased online.
Parisian giants PSG were soon to follow as they’ve become cultural leaders across pop culture on and off the pitch. The signings of global stars like MBappe and Neymar culminated strong brand awareness not only because of their footballing ability but their fashionable, urban and cultural presence. In due course, the club was ambitious enough to sign a partnership with urban sportswear success, Air Jordan. This collaboration skyrocketed PSG into pop culture monsters which have seen their brand endorsed by multiple high-profile celebrities including Kendall Jenner, Rihanna and Gigi Hadid. PSG continued to diversify their business by ensuring their merchandise wasn’t exclusive to audiences of the game. Instead, the club began designing surfboards, trucker jackets (collaborated with Levi), an exclusive Hublot watch and Air Jordan sneakers. PSG’s audience continued to rise when former player Thiago Silva promoted a track that AJ Tracey and Santan Dave made about him.
Luxury fashion monsters Balenciaga has also taken their sports strategy seriously as they’ve established a collection called Balenciaga FC. The initiative saw the brand drop multiple football products for their autumn collection, aroused by traditional football wear and high-end fashion. A remarkably popular item in the collection consists of their football boots worth over £400. The extortionate prices on their items have been a popular topic within rap and pop culture which has boosted their profile to a broader market where they’ve chosen to captivate that growth in the football industry.
Many ‘fashionable football’ partnerships have initiated during this era, including UK-based retailer Belstaff becoming the official outfitter for French club OGG Nice. Spurs signed an exclusive deal with Hugo Boss and Manchester City collaborated with DSquared2 not long ago. These collaborations welcome a new strategy for classy designer outfitters to influence the style and image of today’s beautiful game. Essentially, rap culture has influenced a modern style into the football industry by utilising luxury fashion to pivot the sector into a global entertainment business.