Unless you have been hiding away under a rock with your head buried in the sand recently, you may have noticed that a small football tournament known as the World Cup is about to begin. With brands as diverse as Sky, Mars, Nivea and Pringles jumping on the World Cup bandwagon – TV, radio and newspapers and magazines have recently been inundated with World Cup and football themes. Although I am not a huge football fan myself, during big international tournaments on the World stage, you can’t help but get swept up in the patriotic drama of it all and feel a sense of pride for your country. I understand the desire to show your devotion and support for your country’s team, but why not do it in a more stylish and individual way rather than following the crowd and opting for the traditional England football shirt which will be ten-a-penny over the next few weeks. In this article I want to take a brief look at the integration of sportswear into fashionwear, and the possibility of showing patriotism and supporting your country without compromising your stylish reputation or individuality.
Designerwear and Activewear used to be two very separate entities. Designerwear was designed to look attractive on catwalks and to appeal to fashionistas worldwide, whereas activewear was designed simply for the functionality and practicality of sport. However, within the past 10 years or so, these boundaries have been blurred due to various collaborations between large sports brands and high fashion designers – often with very interesting and popular results. In addition, famous sportsmen and women regularly appear on best-dressed lists, and have been snapped up by designers to feature in modelling campaigns for new collections. David Beckham and Freddie Ljungberg have both fronted underwear campaigns for Emporio Armani and Calvin Klein respectively – and Serena Williams has fronted and been involved with a clothing range for Nike as well as developing her own fashion line called Aneres. In addition, Dolce & Gabbana have used both the Italian Rugby team and Italian Swimming team, and more recently – to coincide with the World Cup – members of the Italian Football team, to front their underwear campaigns. The previously separate worlds of fashion and sport are integrating and the boundaries between the two are becoming less defined.
Back in 1998, Puma collaborated with Jil Sander to create a range of footwear which was both stylish, and yet still suitable for sports. This seemed to have started a trend for Puma who have since collaborated with Alexander McQueen to create their successful ‘ManCat’ range of stylish sports footwear, and also a collaboration with Philippe Starck for the ‘Starck Naked Puma’ collection which contains 15 types of bodywear for both men and women. Sports giant Adidas have also successfully collaborated with various designers including Stella McCartney and American designer, Jeremy Scott – but their most successful collaboration to date has been with Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto to create the Y-3 collection. Initially the collaboration began in 2002 and has turned into a regular annual collaboration due to it’s popularity and success amongst both critics and customers. The Y-3 collection has revolutionised the sports-fashion hybrid and resulted in a collection which perfectly blends sports functionality with Yohji Yamamoto’s signature sense of style and traditional Japanese tailoring. In the words of Hermann Deininger (Chief Marketing Officer for Adidas): “Y-3 is unique in the market and not comparable to any other design cooperation or brand. Y-3 has created its own niche.” The Y-3 range has refashioned sportswear to be viewed in a new, contemporary light.
The official England football strip for the World Cup 2010 has been designed by Umbro – but over the next month or so during the World Cup, this strip will be commonplace amongst England fans all over the country. I think it would be great to locate a few alternatives to the standard England shirt which still show patriotism for your country and support for the England team but still remain stylish and stand out from the crowd.
Especially for the World Cup, Nike have commissioned 6 artists to design contemporary, more personal alternatives to the traditional versions of their national kit. England, France, the USA, Brazil, the Netherlands and South Africa have all been given the alternative Nike treatment with individual artists from each of these countries putting their individual twist on the World Cup theme. For England, the illustrator James Jarvis has designed a traditional red polo shirt detailed with a cartoon-version one of the three lions grinning out toothily. Similarly, the shirt for the USA contains the archetypal American Eagle, and for France there is a beret-wearing, moustached Frenchman. These shirts are great as they put a witty, individualistic spin on the traditional football shirt – but also retain a sense of patriotism and national pride.
In fact, the polo shirt seems to be a popular alternative for several designers. Fred Perry have created a series of polo shirts in different colours corresponding to different countries with a small country-logo detail. These are limited edition polo tees and as each country’s team is knocked out, the corresponding shirt will also be dropped. Paul Smith have also released a range of polo shirts specifically for the World Cup, and Hugo Boss Green have also designed a range of smart polo shirts embroidered with respective country flags [check product picks at the end for where to purchase].
The high street have also bucked the World Cup trend and there are lots of football-themed options out there which offer an alternative to the Umbro shirt and still demonstrate support for your country. 55DSL have collaborated with the artist and illustrator Iain MacArthur to create a patriotic alternative to the traditional English strip. A tee which features a contemporary twist on the traditional three lions in classic red and white. MacArthur has also created similar designs for other high-profile countries involved in the World Cup detailing the colours and images traditionally associated with individual countries.
Accessories are also a great way of showing your support for your team. Italian Watch manufacturer Toywatch have been inspired to create a small range of World Cup watches which contain country flags on the display face. And famed flip flop giant Havianas have also created a range of flag-themed flip flops so you can purchase summer footwear with your preferred country’s colours to show your support.
Clearly there are a lot of alternative options to the standard and traditional football shirt – so rather than following the crowd like a proverbial sheep and opting for the safe and common option – why not be an individual and choose a stylish alternative. Supporting your country during the next month does not mean you need to compromise or sacrifice your individual style.
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